On January 1, California became the first state to require public institutions to update the records of students who have legally changed their names and gender.
Advocates say the legislation helps deter deadnaming, which is the act of referring to transgender or gender non-conforming people by their birth or former name without consent. Whether intentional or not, deadnaming is insensitive and can be harmful by contributing to mental health issues and violence, according to Medical News Today.
The new law, introduced in January 2021 by former Assembly Member David Chiu (D) and approved in October 2021 by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), allows former students to request free updated copies of their records and diplomas from the University of California, California State University, and California Community Colleges.
Gov @GavinNewsom signed our bill prevent deadnaming on college diplomas.
This is bittersweet because it is my last bill in the legislature, but I'm excited to be leaving on a high note & so proud of the work our team did for LGBTQ college students.https://t.co/AyNbtrpRZu
— David Chiu (@DavidChiu) October 6, 2021
“Transgender and non-binary students face many challenges, and this simple policy will ensure they have one less barrier to overcome,” Chiu told the San Francisco Chronicle last year.
Jamie Marquis, a non-binary student at the University of California, Davis, changed their name several years ago but struggled to get updated academic records, CalMatters reports.
“I wish that there was a way to really explain to cisgender people how being deadnamed feels,” Marquis told CalMatters. “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.”
Because the “bill imposes new duties on community college districts,” it also requires implementing a state-mandated local program. Starting with the Class of 2023-2024, the legislation allows students to select their preferred name on their diploma regardless of whether it’s legally changed.