Chosen names to appear on college diplomas, campus profiles
√ SUNY students able to select 'X' marker when asked to provide gender
√ Full implementation must occur by the start of fall 2023 semester
Gov. Kathy Hochul recently announced the State University of New York Board of Trustees directed all 64 SUNY campuses to update their policies regarding the use of a chosen name and pronouns to ensure that transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary students' identities are fully reflected and represented in campus systems. This change is the next step taken in SUNY's mission to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for students within the LGBTQIA+ community.
"Every person, regardless of their gender identity or the name they choose to go by, deserves to have identity documentation that reflects who they are," Hochul said. "This historic change by the SUNY system is a victory in our ongoing fight to ensure that New York is a place of love and belonging. My administration remains committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure equality and respect for the LGBTQIA+ community."
Campuses are required to have all operational systems reflect a student's chosen name and pronouns in any instance consistent with federal law where a student is comfortable sharing such information. The student's chosen name and pronouns will appear in campus portals, class rosters and student email addresses.
With Hochul's recent announcement that New Yorkers can select “X” as a gender marker on their driver's license, SUNY students are additionally able to select “X” when asked to provide gender by the college.
SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley said, "An inclusive chosen name and pronoun policy doesn't only help students feel safer on campus – it is also a matter of respect. This is the next concrete step toward ensuring SUNY's current and future transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary students feel embraced and uplifted. To those students and families who are seeing an unprecedented effort to roll back LGBTQIA+ rights and opportunities in other states, we want you to know that New York state and SUNY's 64 colleges and universities intend only to move forward."
According to Campus Pride, allowing students to use a chosen name is a best practice to support transgender and gender-nonconforming students. A 2018 study of 500 transgender college youth identified the top actions that the students valued to create an inclusive campus climate as the ability to use chosen names on campus records, gender-inclusive restrooms, and non-discrimination policies.
A press release noted, “In 2015, the SUNY Board of Trustees set a goal to be the most inclusive state university system in the country and passed a resolution in 2021 requiring SUNY state-operated campuses to designate all single-occupancy bathrooms as gender neutral. The chosen name and pronouns mandate expands on SUNY's 25-point diversity, equity, and inclusion plan to make campuses more inclusive for students within marginalized communities.”
Alfred University School of Ceramics Eliott Houghtelling (they/them) said, "Having the freedom to identify in the way which they desire is important for all people – especially for trans and genderqueer people. This mandate is a necessary step to promote and protect the right of queer students to their identity and autonomy. People should not have to worry about being dead-named within an institution they work so hard to attend. I hope that SUNY continues to make schools a safer, more inclusive space for queer people."
SUNY Empire State College student Em Wasserman (they/them) said, "As someone who's struggled to feel affirmed with my legal name and pronouns displayed in every other aspect of my life, I'm so incredibly happy SUNY campuses are adopting a more inclusive policy. ESC really listened to our feedback, and I call that a major win. I'm happy to present as myself without needing to explain to people why I ask that they use my chosen name and pronouns. That extra legwork is exhausting, harmful, and I've avoided it in so many areas of my life. At school, I can confidently be who I am – the me I'm happy to be. My name and pronouns are no longer beginning to feel 'optional.' "
Founder and Executive Director of Campus Pride Shane Windmeyer (they/he) said, "Campus Pride applauds the work of the entire SUNY system in creating a policy for including pronouns and chosen names – and fully begin to recognize all students including transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary identities. The Campus Pride Index was developed for this very reason to advocate on behalf of LGBTQIA+ students within higher education. We appreciate the ongoing relationships with the 64 colleges within the SUNY system and their LGBTQIA+ inclusive efforts. There is no better time to make history and foster greater inclusion than during Pride Month."
Full implementation of any necessary IT or operational changes to align with SUNY's chosen name policies must occur by the start of the fall 2023 semester; the “Gender X” policy must be implemented by the end of 2022.
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95% of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY's 64 colleges and universities. To learn more, visit https://www.suny.edu/.