This fall, students at the Cégep de Sherbrooke in Quebec don’t have to use their legal name on school documents. A year and a half ago, the student association asked administrators to revamp the registration system to make life easier for transgender and gender-fluid students. “It was an important concern of ours,” says Martin Lambert, the school’s director of student services.
Previously, students had to use their legal name, which was included on the class list, student email, ID cards and class schedules. Gender-fluid and trans kids often choose a new name for their new identity, so the permanence of the class list was a problem. “Some students are still transitioning, so they haven’t legally changed their name yet,” Lambert notes.
A student would have to tell each teacher their preferred name. “I imagine that some teachers accepted it without question. Other teachers might require more information before accepting the demand,” says Lambert. Students may have been outed, which may have invaded their privacy and attracted unwanted attention.
The school customized its computer system by adding a box marked “customary name” to allow students to give the name they wanted rather than their birth name. “It wasn’t a difficult fix,” says Lambert, though it did take more than a year.
Quebec high school students register with SRAM (Service régional d’admission du Montréal métropolitain), which manages the applications of 35 CEGEPs and colleges. Upon acceptance, the file is transferred to the new school. Previously, students had to provide the school with proof of a legal name change. So far, four people have used the new system. “It’s not the quantity that’s important to us. We want to make sure students feel comfortable.”