Through the developing discussion of trans issues at Georgetown, the university has reached a considerable benchmark in its history, with transgender students more welcomed on campus and issues that concern them gaining wider attention. More progress, however, can still be made, especially in the area of simple administrative policy.
Foremost is the progression of school protocol regarding transgender students who wish to use preferred names, rather than legal names, on GOCards. While recent conversations between GU Pride and the university registrar demonstrated amenability to changes in GOCard policy, progress needs to encompass more than mere amenability.
Currently, GOCards require indicators, such as parentheses or quotation marks, to signify when students’ displayed names are not their legal ones.
Transgender students, however, are right to continue to push for more discreet forms of these indicators — or none at all. The point of contention is that quotations and parentheses beget doubt of these students’ identities to anyone who looks at their GOCards, outing them in the process. Moreover, placing quotations around a name lends a sense of irreverence, as if it is simply a nickname, rather than an identity.
Because these aptly named Georgetown One Cards permeate many facets of student life, serving as a student’s wallet, key, identification, library card, meal ticket and more, inclusivity should be made a top priority. Singling out trans students by overtly acknowledging the difference between preferred and legal names is unwarranted and unnecessary.
The university is reluctant to depart from standards for official, legal identification. However, the purpose of a GOCard is for life within the front gates, not life outside of them. With all of a student’s vital biographical information stored on the card’s magnetic stripe, the need for a legal name that isn’t necessary for a student’s day-to-day interactions is hard to justify.
It is not infrequent that students and administrators come to temporary gridlocks on burgeoning issues; but with visibility and proper deliberation, many policies can be improved. If transgender students at Georgetown are to tip this scale in their favor, they will need a push from the rest of us as well.