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City College now has chosen name policy

by Alex Madison

Pau Crego Walters. Photo: Courtesy Google
Pau Crego Walters. Photo: Courtesy Google  

Transgender students at City College of San Francisco are now able to have their preferred names appear on class rosters, emails, online courses, and hopefully, in the future, student ID cards thanks to a new Chosen Name policy.

The policy was officially implemented in February by the city's Office of Transgender Initiatives, which collaborated with City College students, staff, and its chancellor, Mark Rocha.

"I hope this will reduce barriers even more for gender nonconforming and trans students at City College," said Pau Crego Walters, a trans man who is director of policy for the Office of Transgender Initiatives. "I know that going to school and fighting to be recognized everyday can be stressful and demoralizing."

Crego Walters, who previously was a student at City College, said in order to have a preferred name recognized by other students and staff, a transgender person would essentially have to out themselves as being transgender, something that can increase their chances of being bullied or harassed.

"This is the next step in improving the educational experience for trans students who are extremely vulnerable to harassment in educational spaces," Crego Walters said.

The policy also helps protect immigrants, victims of domestic and other forms of violence, and international students whose experience in the classroom and on campus would be "more comfortable" by having their preferred names recognized.

Students must fill out a "Preferred Name Change Form" at the Office of Admissions and Records at City College's Ocean Campus, 50 Phelan Avenue, to have their preferred name reflected throughout the college's administrative systems. Legal first names of students are still required to be used on documentation regarding payroll and financial aid.

Some students have already been positively impacted. Zel Komula, 24, studies sexual health education at City College and is president of the college's Gender Diversity Project, a student-led LGBT advocacy group.

Komula, who prefers gender-neutral pronouns, said before the policy they would have to approach their professor on the first day of class and ask their preferred name be used, not knowing whether or not the professor would comply. However, all of Komula's professors did comply.

"I wave my transgender flag pretty hard, but it's still incredibly exhausting to have to tell your professors that you are trans in every class," said Komula, who identifies as agender.

Although the policy marks an improvement in creating a safer environment for all students, including the LGBT community, Komula said they are disappointed student ID cards have not yet been included in the policy. At the California Institute of Integral Studies, where Komula is also a student, preferred names are allowed on student ID cards.

Crego Walters said not having student IDs included in the policy is "concerning" and he is unsure if the college plans to include it in the future, although administrators of the college are supportive of allowing preferred names on student ID cards.

"When student IDs don't reflect students' chosen names, it outs them as trans, which may place them at further risk of harassment," Crego Walters wrote in an email to the Bay Area Reporter. "Not including chosen names on student IDs would undermine the goal of City College's chosen name policy."

The Gender Diversity Project and other students and staff have also been advocating for single-stall bathrooms on campus to be converted to gender-neutral restrooms. Crego Walters said the signs for gender-neutral restroom doors have been ordered. California Assembly Bill 1732, which was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2016, requires that all single-stalled bathrooms in business, government, and public places be gender-neutral.

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