Auckland University pays for transgender students' name changes

AUCKLAND UNI: The cost of a legal name change is a barrier for a number of transgender students, says Trudie McNaughton, ...
MICHAEL BRADLEY

AUCKLAND UNI: The cost of a legal name change is a barrier for a number of transgender students, says Trudie McNaughton, pro vice-chancellor of equity.

Auckland University is offering to cover the costs for transgender students choosing to legally change their names.

The decision comes after the university found that its administration system did not always support transgender students who chose to use their preferred names instead of their legal names.

This sometimes led to them being outed and harassed. 

Trudie McNaughton, pro vice-chancellor of equity, said the cost of a legal name change was a barrier for a number of transgender students, so the university decided to fund it for those who met specific criteria.

"We don't want cost to be a barrier for us to become an equitable and inclusive university," she said.

It costs $127.70 to change a birth name with additional fees to request a new birth certificate − all of which will be covered by the university.

The measure, believed to be a first for New Zealand universities, will be implemented while the administration system is updated to recognise preferred names. 

McNaughton said the present system meant a student's preferred name could not be used in all records, which caused issues such as students getting misgendered by administration or staff.

"Students reported that if the legal name was used rather than the preferred name this led to outing," she said.

"We noted that this was sometimes was accompanied by harassment or other negative behaviour."

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