Fordham to Offer Chosen Name Policy

protesters+in+the+outdoor+plaza+at+Fordham+Lincoln+Center.+The+sign+being+held+reads+%22Dear+Fordham%2C+dignity+of+the+human+person+is+gender+inclusive%22

ZOEY LIU

Students protest on the Outdoor Plaza at a rally for transgender rights in October 2018. Prior to the Aug. 31 announcement, student groups had advocated for a chosen name policy for years.

By KAT EHRING

Fordham will now offer a Chosen Name Policy, which states that Fordham students can have their preferred name on Fordham documents, transcripts, ID cards and Blackboard without having to legally change their name. 

According to an email from Chief Diversity Officer Rafael Zapata on Aug. 31, students may now submit a request via their MyFordham account to use a name different from their legal one in places “where it is legally and operationally permissible.”

Zapata wrote: “The passage of this policy originated with students, and was made possible through the thoughtful and active engagement of students, faculty and staff throughout the University.”

Kiernan Westrick, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’21, talked about his first years at Fordham as a transgender student. He said he experienced discomfort to the point of not completing assignments when dealing with professors using Blackboard discussion boards because he did not want other students to know his deadname. 

With the creation of a policy where transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) students are able to choose what name appears on sites like Blackboard, future conflicts like Westrick’s can be avoided. Especially now that almost all of Fordham’s education is virtual, situations such as Westrick’s are likely to become even more pronounced. 

a transgender student holding their ID up for the camera while covering their dead name with their finger
Community members like Kassandra D’Aniello, FCLC ‘21, who is transgender, will be able to obtain new IDs. Student groups have advocated for a chosen name policy in the past few years prior to the Aug. 31 announcement. Such a policy was first planned to take effect starting in the fall 2019 semester. (ZOEY LIU)

Manon McCollum, FCLC ’24, said that all of his experiences with Zapata and other Fordham staff have been very positive and reassuring, but he said he wished there was more latitude for transgender students to be with roommates of the same gender identity, regardless of assigned sex.

McCollum said he believes that Fordham wants to create an inclusive and accommodating environment that would respect any student’s gender identity, but he feels that being placed in a single takes away from the “college experience” and would not be his first choice, especially as a first-year. 

Earlier this year, the Office of Residential Life announced that it would offer housing options for students based on their gender identity rather than biological sex, another policy which the aforementioned student groups have advocated for.

Before the housing policy change, Westrick roomed with women who were comfortable rooming with a man during his sophomore and junior years. He said this affected his college life because he often found himself lying to people about the gender of his roommates for fear it would be too hard to explain.

“There’s this odd dissonance that creates a daily stress where it’s like, consciously people are supporting me but the rules don’t seem to support me,” Westrick said. “I go home and my living situation doesn’t reflect my identity.”

As a senior, Westrick said he has seen the administration evolve and fluctuate in its policies and treatment of their TGNC students. He said he is relieved that no other student would have to go through this again because of the Chosen Name Policy.

This story was originally published as breaking news on Aug. 31. It was updated on Sep. 16 with more information.