At the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, UL GLASS (Giving Love, Acceptance, Safety and Support), a student organization on campus that promotes acceptance of those who identify as LGBT, has started a campaign called DON’T DEADNAME ME UL.
A deadname is the name that a transgender person was given at birth. Deadnaming refers to the process of calling someone by their birth name after they have transitioned.
An article on healthline.com explains why deadnaming can be so detrimental.
“It can cause them to feel like you don’t respect their identity, you don’t support their transition, or that you don’t wish to put forth the effort to make this necessary change,” the website says. “Not only can being outed cause stress, it can also subject that person to harassment and discrimination.”
The goal of UL GLASS’s campaign is to allow more transgender students to feel like they can be themselves on campus.
“DON'T DEADNAME ME UL is a campaign urging the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to implement a system where students are able to add a preferred name to their university account,” states the campaign form, “This will reduce the amount of outing of transgender individuals in class when instructors call students based on their rosters.”
The form itself exists for students to place their names to show the university this is a larger issue than previously believed.
Tyler Nguyen, the president of GLASS explains what spurred the campaign.
“(Incidents) more or so in the past,” Nguyen said. “It’s an issue that has been going on for like, I don’t want to say forever, but basically a really long time. More recently it’s been brought up, and I’ve always kind of heard about this, so this semester we decided to try to do something to combat it.”
Nguyen also summarized what the process is like for someone who needs to change their name.
“I really have no experience about that, but I have heard other people’s stories,” he said. “In the past, people have talked to Heidi Lindsey or someone in Student Engagement and tried to get their name changed and it didn’t turn out so well.”
In a statement to The Vermilion, Dean of Students Margarita Perez, Ph.D., wrote, “I met with representatives and leaders of GLASS last week about this concern. The university has a committee exploring options for a preferred or chosen name. We understand the importance and are in the process of determining how we can offer this option to our students across all areas and functions of campus. Currently students can complete a preferred/chosen name form which is available online at https://registrar.louisiana.edu/node/53. As we determine what we are able to provide students, and the policies concerning this initiative, we will implement their preferred/chosen name. We are also working on a manner to allow students to provide input and feedback to this initiative. I'm always happy to discuss concerns, ideas, and solutions with students.”
Nguyen also talked about what the administration has done thus far.
“When we talked to the administration and other people in that department, like Student Engagement, they actually said that they had been working on something since last September,” he said. “They’re trying to do everything, not just rosters, but it’s going to change maybe on Cajun Cards and stuff like that as well.”
He also explained, however, why the campaign is still necessary.
“So exactly for the reason of they’ve been working on this since September, and they want it to be ready for the fall,” he said. “They actually wanted it ready for this semester, but how everything is — such that they want to do everything; they want to prolong the roll-out of this new system, and we just want to expedite the process and just make other students aware.”