Dead Names on Diplomas

New bill changes game for transgender students

Jax Harrell, Staff Writer

Nearly two percent of students in school identify as transgender. Among these students, along with other kids who might simply go by a different name, several students go by a different name than the one they were assigned at birth.

On Oct. 6, Governor Newsom signed California Assembly Bill 245, which, if approved by all three branches of government (or a veto by the president is overridden), would cause public universities to be prohibited from using a student “deadname,” a name assigned at birth to a transgender person that they no longer use, on diplomas and any academic records.

Originally, students have had to pay $435 dollars, minimum, to change their name on their diploma, which the person would have to go through court to do. If the bill is approved and turns into a signed law, they can simply say the word and have their preferred name on their academic records.

“While it is uncertain if these changes will launch efforts for a bill that will directly address K-12 schools in California, AB245 is currently directing public colleges and universities to permit name changes on former students’ documents,” Principal Richard Nash said.

“I was talking to my parents about changing my name legally and it’s 500 dollars, my parents can’t afford that,” said freshman Ali Dannels. “It’ll show me and other students that we can be whoever we choose.”

Schools have been updating their way of doing things as times go on, accommodating as many students as they can, this is another evolution, allowing students with a different name to have what they go by on their records, at least for school. Teachers can change a students name in certain systems, but that doesn’t change what ends up on legal documents. “We have a district policy process that allows students to change their names,” said Nash. “However, all legal documents still hold the student’s non-preferred name. Any student wishing to make a name change meets with me to understand the legal limits and options for future implications.”

“Being able to change your name in the school system, and have your proper name on your diploma means so much more to the transgender kids in our school,” senior and President of Gender Sexuality Alliance Club (GSA) said. “It dims the spotlight that is usually blasted onto transgender people, that alone is so helpful.”