A welcoming atmosphere for transgender students: Changing display names

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UConn Information Technology Services. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut Information and Technology Services (ITS) fully released a display name tool on November 14, 2018 with expanded functionality that enables faculty, staff and students to set a name that is different from their legal name in select UConn directories.

With the display name tool, individuals can enter a preferred first, middle and last name on the UConn Phonebook, Outlook Global Address List and UConn AnyWare, according to ITS Help Center website. They can also choose the format for their display name on the University Information and Technology Services NetID website.

Ashley Mattingly, the communications writer for ITS, said the list will expand as more systems begin to show display names. She added that other services such as Husky One Card will start using preferred names in the future.

ITS Team Lead Dylan Marquis said in an email that by adding this new function, individuals can enjoy a more comfortable atmosphere at UConn.

“Names can be an important aspect of how individuals relate to their peers and the university community,” Marquis said. “In allowing our community to update their display name as easily as possible, we hope that it allows individuals to be as comfortable as possible, living, working and learning at the university.”

There are 5,719 users across the university have display names which differ from their legal names, Marquis said. He added that since December 1 last year, 80 individuals have modified their display name using the tool.

Kelsey O’Neil, the director of the Rainbow Center, said that adding this tool is an excellent step in affirming the identity of transgender, gender nonconforming and non-binary students. In the past, ITS had some options for these students, faculty and staff who had not undergone a legal name change to their display name, but the options were limited, O’Neil said.

“In October 2018, after collaborating largely with Julia Anderson, the Rainbow Center Program Coordinator, ITS created (this) new tool that allows users to easily update their display name from a legal name to a chosen name,” O’Neil said. “I am encouraged that departments on campus are taking proactive initiatives to recognize and allow trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary students to use their chosen names.”

O’Neil added that UConn allows individuals’ chosen name to be on their diploma. They can also put their preferred names on the back of the Husky One Card, O’Neil said.

O’Neil encourages students to go to the Rainbow Center’s website to see more detailed information about the process of changing their display name pertaining to health insurance, housing, class and grade roster, payroll system and more. Information can be found under the “Transgender @ UConn tab”.

Marquis said ITS recommends display names be utilized by IT applications that do not explicitly require legal names. 

O’Neil emphasized that legal name changes are not always an option for LGBTQ folks and can be unattainable depending on access. 

“They (legal name changes) cost money and involve probate court,” O’Neil said. “We know that the most marginalized within the trans, gender nonconforming and non-binary community are often those who suffer and do not have access to such systems. Our mission is to re-think structures, to envision who we are leaving out and to center our work on providing resources and working with that community.”

O’Neil said student employees at the Rainbow Center will run an event on Feb. 27 titled “Legally and Medically Trans”, in which a medical professional from UConn Health will talk about the process of changing legal names. The professional will also discuss health care regarding people who believe their identity journey involves medical care to make a medical transition.


Yuanyuan Cao is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at yuanyuan.cao@uconn.edu.

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