- Associated Press - Thursday, December 11, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Buying food on campus. Unlocking doors in his residence hall. Whenever Ethan Jackson used his Indiana University ID card, he wouldn’t look at it.

His legal name made him anxious and didn’t match his identity. So Jackson, an IU senior, made small labels with Ethan printed on them to cover his legal name and reduce potential problems.

“It never got to be problematic,” he said of the labels. “But the name under the label was incredibly problematic.”

But now, Jackson has a new student ID with his preferred first name: Ethan.

Thanks to changes made this week, students on the IU Bloomington campus can apply to have their preferred name on their university ID. It’s the ID that students use for dining, libraries, buses, workout centers, the Health Center, in classes and more.

But that’s just the most tangible example of a campuswide software update that allows students to use their preferred name everywhere on campus and not just in some places, IU spokesman Mark Land told The Herald-Times (https://bit.ly/1BAyQUL ).

Having the preferred name option was in the works for several years as a way to support and welcome transgender students like Jackson. It was already an option on other IU campuses, and IU Bloomington staff and faculty will also soon be able request a preferred name - likely by spring semester.

The update to the IU system means preferred name consistency for students who use initials or a middle name, international students who go by an Anglicized name and for transgender students.

Some people think it’s not a big deal, but it is a big deal for someone who is transitioning, said Doug Bauder, coordinator of the GLBT Student Support Services Office.

He said it’s similar to the difference between being called Jim and being called James.

“What a person wants to be called is important,” Bauder said. “Defending your identity can be waning on a person to do.”

Before this change, it was always a tossup if Jackson would be called by his preferred name or the legal name he didn’t use. And that left him worried and anxious.

He said his former legal name - he has since changed his name legally to Ethan - was called out in waiting rooms multiple times. Once it was for a mock job interview at the Kelley School of Business. Other times it was called out in classes.

There was even a time that he was accused of cheating because his ID didn’t match the preferred name he was using in class.

Jackson said he would complain to various university offices about the lack of consistency in using preferred names.

“I wanted IU to be a different place when I left it,” he said.

Several student government associations also advanced the idea of having an option.

Bauder said some universities put two names on the IDs of transgender students, but that can lead to harassment and violence toward those students.

“I’m really, really happy that IU changed its policy,” Jackson said.

However, he said that policy change needs to include education of IU staff who make that preferred name change or who work with transgender students in general.

“Policy needs education, too,” Jackson said.


Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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