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IUB To Allow Preferred Names On Transgender Students' IDs

Indiana University president Michael McRobbie says the strategic plan is intended to set the university "on the course for greatness."

Updated Dec. 11, 2014, 1:47 p.m. 

Students at Indiana University's Bloomington campus will be able to apply to use a preferred name, instead of a legal name, on their university-issued identification cards beginning this week, the university announced Monday.

The university says the change is an effort to accommodate and support transgender students who go by a name different than their legal name.

“All of our students should feel at home on this campus,” Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel says in a statement. “It is powerful and inspirational to see this change arise from students who want to create a welcoming, inclusive environment for their classmates.”

Doug Bauder, coordinator of the university's GLBT Student Support Services and a member of a transgender advocacy group says the change is at least two years in the making.

He says IU is one of a growing number of universities adding this option for students and that it's another step in opening up a dialogue about transgender issues.

Ethan Jackson, a member of the university's transgender advocacy group says the change alleviates some anxiety.

"Every time that I purchased something from a C store on campus with my ID card, or every time I use it for an exam, or every time I even use it just to open my door, I would always be very conscientious of where my picture and name were facing and who could see it," Jackson says. "And now that's something I don't really have to worry about. I don't have to worry about being called out for cheating on exams because I don't have an ID card that reflects my name."

Jackson says he thinks the university should also incorporate an educational component to accompany these changes.

"It might be good to educate people on part of the reason why and talk about trans issues within their department, so issues don't happen with how they handle it now," Jackson says.

The university says IT staff have already implemented an upgrade to the student information software, enabling the use of preferred names in systems previously unable to use them, and Bauder says he expects the change to take effect with relative ease.

Students who make approved name changes, including international students who go by an Anglicized name or students who go by their middle name, can also have their preferred name on their ID card.

A charge of $9 will apply to students, faculty and staff changing a current card for an ID with a preferred name.

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