UC San Diego (UCSD) students can submit preferred names and pronouns they wish to be referred to by the university for use in most campus records systems starting this quarter. All undergraduate and graduate students can indicate their preferred name or pronouns on My TritonLink, under the Social Identities Tool.
UCSD defines preferred names as any lived names or names in use chosen for a variety of reasons, such as a reflection of cultural, personal, or religious identity, nicknames, and names that accurately reflect a person’s gender identity; in practice, it is any name a student goes by that is different from their legal name. Preferred names will display on systems such as the Virtual Advising Center (VAC), Find-a-Student, Class Lists, eGrades, and commencement-related documents by late April 2019.
Personal pronouns are institutionally defined as an indicated set of pronouns a person wishes to be addressed by. UCSD students can now choose from a list of He/Him, She/Her, They/Them, Ze/Hir, Per/Per, the Preferred Name, or Other. The pronouns will display on the VAC, Class Lists, and Find-A-Student, but not eGrades or commencement material. Administrators and faculty that already have access to these systems will continue to be able to access these systems after the update. Adding a preferred name or pronouns into these systems is entirely optional.
Graduate students who teach will not be able to request a preferred name or pronoun when teaching classes at this time, due to the fact that the system update does not yet have an option for those who use systems as staff or faculty. The university reserves the right to “remove or deny a preferred name or personal pronoun submission” if they believe the student is using the tool “inappropriately.”
UCSD’s decision follows in the footsteps of other UC campuses. UCLA allowed preferred names on student ID cards in 2017 and has accepted preferred names on students’ online paperwork since 2015. UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside, and over 200 universities across the nation also allow preferred names on course rosters, waitlists, and ID cards. While UCSD doesn’t currently allow students to get new ID cards with their preferred names, it notes that it plans to in the future.
“Our campus will continue to fully embrace our diverse members through implementing preferred names and personal pronouns,” says a statement released by the Office of the Chancellor last Wednesday. “This level of inclusion ensures all students can access UC San Diego and fully participate in the life of our institution.”
In October 2017, the California Gender Recognition Act was passed, allowing transgender people living in California to request name changes on certain identity documents, such as birth certificates and driver’s licenses. It also requires all systems that store and use gender to have a nonbinary option. The bill went into effect on January 1, 2019.
According to a 2018 statement from UCSD’s Steering Committee, which was in charge of compliance with the act, “full implementation [was] expected by January 2019.”
In February 2019, the UC Student Association gave a presentation on preferred names and pronouns, in which they claimed that many campuses, including UCSD, are noncompliant with the act.
The Social Identities Tool on MyTritonLink already allows students the option to input their gender identity, sex assigned at birth, sexual orientation, and gender expression. According to the tool’s description, this data is used as guidance in determining university decisions, such as the allocation of resources, support of students, and development of programs, “as part of the university’s ongoing commitment to ensure our campus is welcoming and inclusive” for the LGBTQIA community on campus.
However, UCSD will still use legal names on official university documents, such as official transcripts, diplomas, tax documents, and financial aid documents. In addition, students cannot request a new UCSD ID card or One Card with their preferred names at this time.
“This [lack of preferred name on student ID] could pose a conflict in classes that check your ID to verify your identity when turning in quizzes or other exams if the student would otherwise be known under their preferred name,” said third-year transgender student Jay Noonan. “A student shouldn’t have to out themselves, or misgender themself, just by showing their ID. Still, I appreciate the effort and hope that we can work toward more progress.”
Anabel King is the Assistant Managing Editor of The Triton. You can follow her at @anabelkingg.