How to Inform your Teachers of your Preferred Name
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It means it’s almost Autumn and I can, eventually, venture outside without fainting from the humidity! Also, sweater weather.
As it also happens, the school year will be starting for so many of you. Some of you may be going to post-secondary, or back to high school. However, there will be a small population of you who, over the summer break, realized you are Trans and decided to change your name.
Congratulations! New name, new wardrobe and new pronouns! We at Harlot still love you all the same! On this quest of affirming the authentic you, you may eventually come across that little annoying legality of registering with your legal name. Urgh bureaucracy. And this can be tricky, depending on the (bullshit) requirements that have to be completed before the change of the gender marker and in some cases, name. While in Canada, this is a straightforward process, but it is also a costly and stressful one. As you have to apply for the name change, pay the fee, and then you have a 30-day window afterward to change E V E R Y T H I N G! In the United States, it’s different depending on the state you reside in. But in the end, it comes down to one thing: money. And sometimes you don’t have it.
But fear not! All is not lost, until you have the coin to change your name legally, you have options to make your education a little less scary. Yours truly has created a template for you to either email or slip to your teacher to make things less awkward and dangerous (you do not want the school bully to have your legal name if there is no need for it):
My name is [preferred name], and I will be attending your class [blank] on [days] at [time] this [term/year]. I am transgender and have not yet legally changed my name. On your roster is my legal name, [Legal name]. I would greatly appreciate it if you refer to me as [preferred name] and use [pronouns] when referring to me. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation, and I look forward to sitting in your class.
Just copy, paste, and fill in the blanks with the appropriate information and you are good to go! If you do have a very resistant professor or teacher who will not honor this request; you can drop the class and register in an adjacent class. If you are in high school, you can drop the course if that is a possibility, or be asked to take the course from another teacher. Or, in some cases, you can bypass the teachers entirely and go to the administration and have your preferred name on the roster, but this is to be taken with a grain of salt, sometimes they won't, but no harm in asking if you trust the person you are speaking to. I hope this helps you have a happy fall and a very productive 2018/2019 academic year.
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BETHANY KILLEN - RESIDENT ADVICE COLUMNIST & SEX THERAPIST
Bethany Killen (she/her), whose time spent finding ways to navigate through her own personal struggles led her to pursue a career in social work.