Story by Abby Siegel, Contributing writer
The LGBT Programming Advisory Committee for the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion has created a continued recommendation to allow preferred first names to be used on RacerCard IDs.
The change would be a continuation of the current preferred first name policy that allows those affiliated with Murray State to “choose a preferred first name to appear on Canvas, course rosters viewable by faculty and on the people finder directory,” according to the Murray State website regarding LGBT Programming. The preferred first name is not listed on legal documents such as paychecks and transcripts.
The change can be made to the IDs because a RacerCard is not a legal form of identification. For example, it cannot be used as voter identification.
Students, faculty and staff would be impacted by this change, allowing individuals to choose the name on their RacerCard. This would benefit any student that goes by a name different than their legal name, including but not limited to transgender or gender non-conforming students and international students.
“When an individual is transitioning, anything in their daily life could ‘out’ them to their coworkers, students or professors,” said Katie Coats, student member of the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion from St. Louis.
She said if an individual goes by the name “Sally,” for example, but their RacerCard says their birth name, “Steve” they would automatically not be considered a woman. She said she believes it could greatly help anyone that is transitioning.
“It is a safety issue; it is a convenience that would deter any discrimination,” said Jo Bennett, student member of the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion from Murray.
Bennett is also the president of Alliance, a student organization for LGBT students and allies.
Other universities, such as the University of Louisville, University of Kentucky, Purdue, Bridgewater and Georgetown, have a preferred first name policy that includes identification cards.
“It would deter any questions, confusion and/or discrimination regarding a student’s identity when they present their RacerCard ID for entry into the Wellness Center, purchasing something from the T-Room or coffee shop on campus or at any office that requests to see their RacerCard ID,” Bennett said.
Jody Cofer Randall, LGBT program coordinator, said there is a growing number of people that identify as part of the LGBT spectrum, with the transgender community the least represented.
“Students can be mindful and always anticipate that within every group on this campus that an LGBT person of some sort is present,” she said. “That idea of ‘I am inclusive, but I do not really know any LGBT people.’ Well, let me tell you, I am pretty sure you do.”
Any individual with a RacerCard would have the opportunity to choose a preferred first name, not solely benefiting a single group on campus.
“It could also be beneficial for international students who would prefer to go by an ‘American’ name when they are studying in the United States, or students who go by a nickname,” Coats said.
Bennett described the impact a first name can have on the perception others have of you, only by a single word.
“It is often overlooked, but we read into a person’s name for quite a bit of information, gender being one of the first assumptions,” Bennett said.
“It can cause issues if someone reads the name on a student’s RacerCard ID assumes an identity and sees the student does not conform to their preconceived notions of gender identity and expression associate with that name,” they said.
Students wishing to switch to a preferred first name should fill out the form on the Murray State website under the “Preferred First Name” link and return the form to the Office of the Registrar, 113 Sparks Hall.