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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Deadnames are continuously used in emails sent to UH community, students, faculty say

Some students are reporting being addressed as their deadname in University-wide emails, despite changing their preferred name in the UH system. | Christopher Charleston/The Cougar

Some UH students and faculty members have voiced their concerns about their deadnames being used in recent emails about mental health resources, sparking conversation about the University’s acknowledgement of preferred names. 

Media production junior Melle Matney, while being more accustomed to their deadname than other transgender individuals, understands how upsetting it can be to be referred to by your deadname.

In general, Matney’s preferred name has been used after they changed it in the system, but they have run into issues when receiving official emails and other documents.

“I saw the email from the president about the task force and stuff they were doing to help with mental health and then with Agnes Arnold Hall, and I don’t know what made it different that something just flagged my brain,” Matney said.

Matney also highlighted last semester’s visit from right-wing speaker Matt Walsh, whose presence led to a protest against him and in favor of transgender rights.

“Maybe that’s just my political view, but the line’s kind of drawn when this person is directly harming your community,” Matney said.

With a sibling who is a senior in high school, Matney doesn’t want their sibling to worry about their deadname if they choose to attend UH.

“I do not want them to have to interact with their deadname whatsoever while they’re here because I know that for them, it’s a lot more jarring,” Matney said.

Students are not the only ones being affected by this, however. Adjunct women’s, gender and sexuality studies lecturer Liam Stone and current Ph.D. candidate has dealt with an increased use of his deadname since becoming a faculty member, despite starting his master’s in 2014.

“For a long time, my deadname was used in students’ class rosters, meaning they would sign up for a class with someone with my deadname, and I would have to clear this up on the first day of class,” Stone said. “This had me outing myself to students, which isn’t a big deal now, as I am primarily an Intro to LGBT Studies instructor.”

Stone eventually got the issue resolved after multiple semesters of waiting and contacting the English department.

With frequent emails from the University about their mental health efforts, Stone notes the irony in deadnames being used in these messages.

“Continuing to use trans individuals’ deadnames does not promote their mental well-being,” Stone said.

That being said, Stone also notes that the University is not intentionally discriminating against transgender people and the issue of names sometimes defaulting to legal names is instead an IT problem.

“However, it is worth questioning why this continues to be the case and why something has yet to be done earlier, given my vast history of trying to get my preferred name consistent across the system,” Stone said. “Perhaps it is now time to fix this once and for all.”

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