Prospective SGA bill advocates for preferred names, legal changes at App State

Kale+Barns+poses+with+their+AppCard.+Barns+is+one+of+a+number+of+students+who+would+be+impacted+by+legislation+that+would+offer+the+use+of+preferred+names+on+AppCards.

Max Correa

Kale Barns poses with their AppCard. Barns is one of a number of students who would be impacted by legislation that would offer the use of preferred names on AppCards.

Xanayra Marin-Lopez, Multimedia Editor

Inspired by the Equality Act, freshman senators Ben Negin and Connor Ranes wanted to support the LGBTQ community at App State with a new SGA bill.

The bill ideally would allow for students to change their legal name to their preferred name and have the change shown in all areas of personal information within the university, but it is still in its writing process. Transgender students would benefit from the bill if they haven’t taken the steps to change their name legally. The bill writers are also experimenting with the idea of payment toward legal name changes.

Negin and Ranes’ bill was initially created for students to use their preferred name on their AppCard. After meeting with App State’s legal office, they discovered it was a broader issue.

“It would be a step in the right direction to allow preferred names on AppCards, but it’s still so devastating if your legal name is called at graduation and you don’t want that,” Ranes said. 

Students’ legal names are used on AppCards, class rosters and are announced at graduation ceremonies. Their focus shifted and the two are advocating for students to be able to use their preferred names for all of these reasons.  

SGA’s external affairs committee also put out a statement on the Equality Act.  The support statement is expected to pass this spring semester, according to Ranes.

SGA has saved money since their meetings take place via Zoom, Negin said. One goal of the bill is to use this money to help transgender students with the legal battle of changing their names.

“This is not the ideal answer. We don’t want people to go through such an awful process just to have their names respected on campus,” Negin said.   

The bill is in its first stages. If passed, it has the ability to aid in trans students’ name changes, but this requires more research and work with the legal office. 

“The current system only works for some people. It only works for people who go by their legal names,” Negin said. 

Kale Barns, a junior trans student who uses they and them pronouns, said it is easy to change their preferred name on AppalNet. They used this method to change their name and are now known in every class as their chosen name.

“When professors take attendance and stuff, unless they’ve had me in the past, they don’t even know I’ve had a different name,” Barnes said. 

In Barnes’ experience, it’s harder for professors to adapt to their they/them pronouns rather than the name change.  

Barnes doesn’t use their AppCard often and said the bill would help freshman students the most. AppCards can be used to access the library, print, pay for on-campus food and are a form of identification. AppCards can also serve as identification for voters.

Negin also created a petition supporting the cause, which currently has approximately 239 signatures. 

“We decided that if we can’t completely change the system right now, we can help it work for more people,” Negin said.