A Diploma To Be Proud Of
On July 8, 2021, I launched a petition urging administrators to update the antiquated diploma policy at the University of Washington. This was, of course, after multiple emails and attempted phone calls over the past couple of years as my own graduation date approached. Currently, all students who graduate from UW must have their current legal names displayed on their diplomas...a policy that is harmful (even dangerous) for some trans/nonbinary students who use a different name in their day-to-day life than their current legal name. The petition reached 100 signatures within the first hour, then 2,500 signatures a week after launch, was covered by the UW Daily, has the support of the GPSS, and has been endorsed by UAW 4121 (the union of academic student workers and postdocs at UW).
Currently, over 31,000 individuals (many affiliated with UW, hopeful future students, or Washington residents) have signed on in support.
While transcripts must reflect legal names, there are multiple universities, including Yale, Miami University, the University of Missouri, and the University of Denver, that have policies making it simple for trans students to have diplomas reflecting chosen first names (regardless of whether a legal name change has been completed). Additionally, a new California state law ensures deadnames are not printed on diplomas of trans/nonbinary students at California public colleges. As of September 2021, UW administrators (the registrar and faculty senate chair) have assured me that the policy will be updated this fall quarter...but the change has not yet happened.
Though I won't hesitate to take whiteout or a post-it note to my own diploma when I graduate this spring, it is still incredibly disheartening to continue to hear stories from my own students, students across campus, and alumn about the deeply felt impact of the UW diploma policy.
Please join me in signing on to my petition in support of a swift change in UW policy to ensure trans/nonbinary students are able to proudly and safely display the diplomas we have worked so hard for.