Susana was not like other girls when she was younger. While others wanted to dress up as princesses, she wanted to be a prince. As she grew older, Susana realized that she was not actually Susana, but instead, Zack.
At times, a person can find out that their gender does not match up with their physical body. In those instances, many choose to transition socially, physically and psychologically.
One part of this transition is the change of an individual’s birth name, or deadname, to their preferred name. This change can be difficult as it is not a legal name change, unless the individual wants to go through that process.
School is a place where every student should feel safe and respected. A transgender student is no exception. Luckily, the school offers a way for those students to change their name in Powerschool and their school email.
Stephanie Hodgeman is a school counselor at BFA. For students seeking to transition, the process begins with her or another school counselor.
“I believe students can choose their preferred name to be called at school and that needs to be done through the verification sheet,” Hodgeman said.
The ”verification sheet” is a form that students and their legal guardians must fill out and sign in order for the name change to go through. The sheet is more for a student’s protection, rather than parental or guardian permission.
“The reason for the verification form isn’t so much about parental permission as it is the school wanting to protect the students from the school outing the student to the family…. Should mail go home with a different name on it than the legal name and the parent or guardian hadn’t consented to the preferred name change, and so what happens if a student’s family isn’t supportive of their name?” Hodgeman said.
In situations where a student does not obtain permission from their guardian for the change, or isn’t ready to come out to their family, there is a solution. This process does have it’s own obstacles though.
“We can individually notify faculty and staff of the preferred name. Unfortunately there will be failures in that system. So it wouldn’t be changed in Powerschool, and let’s say there’s a sub, there could be a failure where a student would be called by their deadname and that’s unfortunate,” Hodgeman said.
There will always be slip-ups in a complicated situation like that, but a quick notification to the faculty can be everything for a student who is discovering who they are.
Once the verification sheet has been passed back to guidance, the change goes into effect almost immediately. The student’s name is changed in Powerschool within a couple days. The school email takes about a week or two to be changed.
“Our secretaries actually make [the name change] in Powerschool for us, but IT does the gmail so it may take a bit longer because IT has to create that new gmail,” Hodgeman said.
Changing their dead name to their preferred name is a big step for transgender youth as it opens up a whole new world for them. This is also a vulnerable time for those individuals; they need all the support they can get.
BFA offers multiple ways for students to feel comfortable and safe during a difficult time of their lives. If anyone feels that they fall into a similar situation, the Mercury implores them to talk with their guidance counselor to discuss their options.
No one should be forced to go by a name that does not represent who they really are.