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In Calif., Student Records Must Be Updated to Honor Name Changes

January 3, 2022

A new California law, which took effect Jan. 1, requires the state’s public institutions to update records for students who have legally changed their names and allows graduates to request an updated copy of their diploma at no additional cost. Advocates say that could greatly benefit transgender and gender-nonconforming students. (This paragraph has been updated to clarify the cost to students.)

As part of their transition, some transgender and gender-nonconforming people change the name that was assigned to them at birth, which becomes known as a deadname. Among the students who have struggled to get their chosen name reflected in their college records is Jamie Marquis, a junior psychology major at the University of California, Davis, who identifies as nonbinary, according to Cal Matters.

“I wish that there was a way to really explain to cisgender people how being deadnamed feels,” Marquis told Cal Matters. “It’s humiliating. It makes you feel out of place and unwelcome, because of all the things about your identity, even your name is being ignored.”

California is the first state to enact such a law. And beginning with the 2023–24 graduating class, the legislation will require public institutions to allow students to choose their names on diplomas without legal documentation of a name or gender change. However, the legislation doesn’t require public institutions to allow students to self-identify on other educational records, such as transcripts or student schedules, without legally changing their name, nor does it affect how students are identified on other legal documents.

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