This month, the LoboCard office of the University of New Mexico implemented changes to policies regarding individual names on an ID.
The new policy allows students, staff and faculty to change the name shown on their LoboCard to better reflect one’s preferred identity, which was previously restricted. This change has been pushed by LGBTQ+ community members, and it can benefit many people.
Janice Devereaux of the LGBTQ Resource Center has been one of the key players in creating the LoboCard preferred name change. She has collaborated with UNM IT and the LoboCard office to facilitate this change.
This change will also help prevent people in the transgender community from feeling targeted in a classroom setting.
“The problems arose when the name that was announced in class did not match the name that was on their LoboCard,” Devereaux said.
“Outing” — having someone’s sexuality exposed without consent — is a potentially dangerous situation many transgender individuals face in new situations.
“Our students are the reason we’re here, and this change allows safety for our trans students who don’t access higher education at equal rates to others,” Devereaux said. “It’s a safety issue to have a student outed in a big class when that’s not what the student is in class for.”
This has also been an issue in the past, as students have been reprimanded for academic dishonesty when identifying as a different name than what is labeled on their Lobo ID, she said.
“It’s not (a) hyperbole to say that this is also suicide prevention,” Devereaux said. “Little things like this help the trans community to stick around.”
These issues indicated changes needed to be made, she said.
“Just because many schools are (making this change) does not mean there’s only one path to going about this change,” Devereaux said. “The University of Vermont completely changed the coding of their system, but that wasn’t feasible for us here.”
After many years of stop-and-go progress and meetings with the IT department, a process that would benefit students at UNM was found, Devereaux said.
“The ID card is the part we could accomplish right away,” she said. “Next time we sit down (with IT) we will decide what we can do next.”
In New Mexico, the requirements to go about legally changing one’s name is often times too difficult or too financially demanding for people seeking the name change.
To legally change one’s full name in New Mexico, “an applicant must submit a petition to the court,” according to transequality.org. “Before filing the petition, the applicant must publish notice of the petition at least once a week for two weeks.”
Being that this is a new policy officially implemented on Jan. 22, the LoboCard office expects to receive more preferred name change requests as the word gets out, said LoboCard office member Carolyn Hartley.
Hartley has been part of the group that has been ensuring that the preferred name change requests are recognized.
“This will reinforce the fact that UNM wants to be a welcoming place for faculty, staff (and) students, and we’re showing respect to people who might have a different way of seeing the world,” Hartley said. “There’s no downside to helping out by being a part of this initiative.”
Rebecca Brusseau is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers the LGBTQ community. She can be contacted at email@example.com, or on Twitter @r_brusseau.