Do better! Diplomas May Now Reflect Preferred Names

All Campus Message:
Diplomas May Now Reflect Preferred Names 

February, 17, 2022

Beginning with the Class of 2022, students will have the choice between having their legal name or their chosen name printed on their Carleton diploma and used in honors and commencement programs. This important change in college policy is in line with Carleton’s IDE goals by contributing to a more inclusive environment for our students.

The Registrar’s Office will send an email to all seniors shortly after spring registration asking them to verify the name they want used on their diploma and in the programs. Carleton is still required to list legal names on transcripts.

OAC’s Response: 
Do Better! Diplomas Should Have Included Chosen Names Long Ago

It took me a few days to notice that my diploma was written in a language I don’t speak. When I looked at it for the first time, stressed and sweating under the summer sun in a black shower curtain, I didn’t parse the Latin and only saw “Carleton College” and my name. Those are the two most important things on a diploma: the names of the institution and the student. Because my chosen name is a shortened version of my legal name, I benefited from Carleton’s previous policy to allow student nicknames on diplomas. I’m disappointed to learn of this double standard that cisgender students’ nicknames were allowed on diplomas long before transgender students’ chosen names. It shouldn’t have taken Carleton until 2022 to get this right for its transgender students who were not able to change their legal name before graduation, but we are grateful to keep moving forward now that it finally has. – Jackie Culotta ‘19, Out After Carleton Co-Chair

April 25, 2022
Dear President Byerly and Registrar Catarelli,

We appreciate that the college has cleared this bar but we also believe it was set low and wish to hold this institution to a higher standard. With that said there are two places where we believe the college could and should have done better. First, there are key differences in the terms ‘chosen’ and ‘preferred’ when referring to a person’s name. ‘Preferred’ implies a request to be called that name whereas ‘chosen’ respects the person’s ownership of their name, removing the opportunity to deny its use as a request or devaluing it as a matter of mere preference. Chosen and preferred are not synonyms when referring to people’s names and should not be used interchangeably. Ideally, there would be no need for a qualifying adjective before ‘name’ at all, but when one is necessary, we suggest only using ‘chosen’ moving forward. 

Second, we were disappointed the college did not take ownership of the harm caused by the previous diploma policy in the initial communication. The college’s historical refusal to acknowledge graduates for who they are at the basic level of their chosen name during this ultimate ceremony undercuts any recognition given by the institution. What is a diploma without this basic respect for and recognition of the graduating student as an individual? This diploma policy is but the most recent instance of a pattern of behavior that queer and transgender students experience throughout their time at Carleton. We believe that an acknowledgement of past and ongoing harm is an important part of the healing process for many trans alumni and current students. One opportunity for healing would be for the college to offer to mail interested alumni replacement diplomas that reflect their chosen names, since they did not benefit from the new policy. We have other outstanding matters to get right yet, for instance exploring whether legal names are required for unofficial transcripts as separate from official transcripts. When making inclusivity policy decisions for LGBTQIA+ Carls in the future, we hope that Out After Carleton and the Gender and Sexuality Center will be consulted. 

We are glad that current and future students will be given the chance to see their authentic selves reflected on their diplomas, and that the college is taking action to further its IDE goals. We are proud to be taking steps alongside Carleton to hold this institution and ourselves accountable.

The Out After Carleton Board

Further Reading
Why You Should Not Say ‘Preferred’ Gender Pronoun – Forbes
Let’s Get It Right: Using Correct Pronouns and Names – ADL

From April 21, 2022 Carleton Today News:
Chosen Names in Commencement and Honors Programs

Beginning with the Class of 2022, students will have the choice between having their legal name or their chosen name printed on their Carleton diploma and used in honors and commencement programs. This change affects not only graduating seniors but also students who are elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi and Mortar Board, and who receive other awards, honors and fellowships, as represented in Carleton’s Honors recognition program. If you expect to have your name published in the Honors program and would like to use a chosen name, please contact the Registrar’s Office by May 1.

June 2021 Pride Month Statement

Each year in June, LGBTQIA+ communities across the globe celebrate Pride Month. Festivals, gatherings, and parades of queer and transgender people from all intersections of life have become a staple at this time. We gather to be loud and proud about who we are, the struggles that we face, and to remember there is still work to be done. We show up to look into the faces of those with similar lived experiences – to remind each other that we are worthy, we matter, and we are loved.

It’s important to remember the origins of what we now know as LGBTQIA+ Pride today. Over 50 years ago, LGBTQIA+ communities faced overt discrimination, including enduring harassment from police for gathering and expressing themselves authentically. Transgender women of color like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, were at the forefront of those initial acts of resistance and helped cultivate an urgent call for LGBTQIA+ liberation.

The world has moved forward in extraordinary ways thanks to an awareness and expanding understanding of sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexuality. There have been some amazing milestones for LGBTQIA+ people over the past 50 years. Unfortunately, a renewed assault on transgender people is underway today. From anti-trans bathroom bills, anti-trans sports initiatives, and the blatant murder and violence against transgender women of color – this active attack targets the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our LGBTQIA+ community. The Gender & Sexuality Center and Out After Carleton Alumni Network encourage you to learn more about the more than 250 anti-LGBTQIA+ legislative efforts currently underway. They vary from state to state and aim to broadly affect the ways LGBTQIA+ people, specifically transgender youth, are able to participate in healthcare, sports, and other facets of life. 

We hope each of you takes a moment to celebrate Pride this year. Get out your rainbow attire, dance with reckless abandon, love each other – and remember that our collective liberation hinges our community’s actions to demand better. 
If you’d like to do something to help but are not not sure where to start, consider this list of suggested actions compiled by Out After Carleton and the Gender and Sexuality Center. Happy Pride!