In February of 2020, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette GLASS organization started a campaign, “Don’t Deadname Me UL” in an effort to stop deadnaming on campus.
Cody Barbier, the UL GLASS president, said that deadnaming is the process by which a person who is transgender or non-binary is called by their birth name instead of their chosen name.
“Deadnaming is the practice of using, essentially, a name that somebody no longer wants to be referred to as. This is most prevalent for transgender people who will often feel their dysphoria or discomfort at hearing their name that they were given when they were born,” Barbier said. “It’s just been an ongoing process. I think some of it got a little halted because of COVID, but it is still an ongoing campaign until they implement this change.”
In February of 2020, the Dean of Students Margarita Perez released a statement to the Vermilion saying that the university is working to allow students to be able to change their name with the university.
“I met with representatives and leaders of GLASS last week about this concern,” Perez wrote. “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.”
Perez also added that they are looking into implementing more changes to be more inclusive to students. The university, as of Feb. 2020, was also looking for student input.
“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,” Perez said.
However, not all students and faculty believe that the university is doing enough to help in this process.
In a tweet by Associate Professor of English Shelley Ingram, she asks UL Lafayette directly about their slow response to this issue.
“Hey @ULLafayette , when are you going to stop deadnaming our students? ‘In 2 weeks’ was 2 years ago,” the tweet reads.
Ph.D. candidate at UL Lafayette Nonah Cagney Palmer replied to Ingram on Twitter saying that the university is being intentionally slow, and asking students to spend that much money to be called by a different name is unacceptable.
“‘It’s sooo hard, like, our computer system uses registrar information and there’s no way to institute a stop gap and rename without, like work. Work is haaard’,” Palmer tweeted. In another tweet, she followed up by saying “This is what I heard from them when I discussed it last spring. Am I being facetious and unfair? Ask me after I’m fingerprinted and down $325 for the parish to consider changing my name legally.”
Some students also believe that allowing students to register for housing and sign up for classes with a preferred name instead of just their legal name would make life at the university easier.
Avis Lawson, a student and member of GLASS, said that not everyone has the resources to change their name legally or the want to do so at this time.
“I have changed my chosen name so many times that I don’t want to change my legal name and then be like, I don’t want to use this name any more,” Lawson said.
They also commented on the legal and expense barriers to name changing.
“It’s very expensive, and even through the legal process I’ve seen people struggle to actually get their names legally changed,” they said.
However, there are organizations such as the Louisiana Trans Advocates that can help with the expense of getting one’s name changed. They also offer resources to finding transgender friendly healthcare providors and crisis support.
“We’re advancing the core human rights of self-determination and expression for all trans, nonbinary and gender nonconforming people in Louisiana,” the website reads.