I have been fighting an unspoken battle for almost a year now.
It’s not impossible, it's just another hill. I hold out all hope that the gravity will decrease as I get closer to the top of this mountain and things won’t be so heavy.
This is a call to action to begin to make this process better for all involved. This is not something I can do on my own.
I changed my name this past year.
This name is me; the other is not. And being addressed with it hurts me and chips me down. As I came out to my friends and family, the ones that left took pieces of myself with them. But the ones that stayed helped me collect new pieces, and now I am stronger than I ever thought I would be.
Even with all that strength, the systems at Alfred University are built in a way that makes it nearly impossible to change your name without facing roadblocks. When I first needed to change my name in the system, I contacted someone in the administrative staff for help. They responded with support and gave me a link to Alfred’s ‘Chosen Name Process.’ This states that once requested on a single Microsoft Form, your name will be changed on your Student ID, Canvas, MyAU, online directory, email, and Banner.
Not only does this list exclude other places your deadname appears, but it also does not actually fix your name in the places listed. I put this form in over summer break and the only places it changed my name was my university email (in the email directory) and MyAU. However, these changes did not happen until about three months after I had originally put in my form.
In the meantime, my mental health was strongly impacted. Before the three months had ended, I decided I couldn’t continue to be addressed incorrectly every time I needed to get food on the Get App. Also, since Powell at the time was set up so that whenever you ordered something they would yell the name on the receipt, it made it mentally difficult for me to get food.
I contacted someone in charge of food and they told me the only way to change my name on the app was to change my name on my ID. Luckily, they got me in touch with those in charge of the IDs and they were able to help me get a new one. Once that was handled it was a lot easier to use the Get App and eat. However, that was still not the end of the problem.
I next encountered it in the form of the library; their system only had the other name and was not registered with my name on my ID. As a result, the act of checking out a book required me to deadname myself in order to find my account in their system. Meanwhile, the only way for you to change your name on Canvas is to go into the settings on the account and change it manually. My name on the rosters for classes only changed after I figured out a way to correct it on my account.
My name in the residence life rosters is incorrect with no way to fix it until they can change their software.
My name in the almost bi-weekly bookstore advertisement emails is still incorrect with no way to fix it.
My name in Banner is incorrect with no way to fix it.
My name in the emails from the mailroom I am not sure can be changed in all honesty.
There are some things I know will not be changed unless I change my name legally. And I am understanding of the situations in which my deadname still must be used. But in Alfred, where so many people have accepted me for who I am and continue to, it makes no sense why I should receive automated emails under the wrong name and feel belittled and drained because of something so easy to get right.
If you are in my shoes, it gets better. And I know Alfred can do better. It just isn’t there yet.
For now, here is what I wish I knew when I started this process.
The Microsoft form only changes your name on MyAU and the email directory. It might take a ridiculous amount of time, but it gets there eventually. Here is the link: https://my.alfred.edu/student-policies/chosen-name-process.cfm
To change your name on Canvas, go into Settings, toProfile Settings, to Edit Username
Your Get App is connected to your ID, which can be changed by talking to and/or emailing dining staff. (New IDs might cost $15)
When at the library, opt to give your ID number to the librarian when you check out your books--it is an option even if they ask for your name with the intention to look it up.
If people are addressing you incorrectly, speak up if you can. It is very hard to find your voice in many situations so even if you let them know after the fact, they will most likely be appreciative.
Email! The only way I have been able to fix anything is by contacting people and letting them know of the mistake or searching for resources to fix problems (Also, who knows, maybe someone will see the email you wrote to the robot that keeps sending your name wrong every time.)
Give yourself breaks; this takes so much out of a person. It's all right to rest and perfectly fine not to try to fix it all at once.
It's ok to be scared. You are loved. It will all be all right. The future is brighter than you know, even if it feels so far away.
None of the above are permanent solutions. There should be an easier way to change a name. Please, Alfred University, fix your systems and provide better resources.