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Americorp volunteer Kristoffer Sverigeson holds a candle by the Duck Pond during a Thursday night candlelight vigil honoring individuals who identify as transgender who have died in the past year. The Associated Students of UNM announced their support for the LGBTQ Resource Center for an initiative that would make it easier for students who identify as transgender to use whatever name the want for University records.

Americorp volunteer Kristoffer Sverigeson holds a candle by the Duck Pond during a Thursday night candlelight vigil honoring individuals who identify as transgender who have died in the past year. The Associated Students of UNM announced their support for the LGBTQ Resource Center for an initiative that would make it easier for students who identify as transgender to use whatever name the want for University records.

ASUNM resolution supports transgender students

At its final Senate meeting of the fall semester on Wednesday, ASUNM unanimously passed Resolution 8F, which states that the student government organization is in support of the campaign geared toward helping the transgender community on campus.

ASUNM President Rachel Williams said it is another step towards acknowledging the diversity that UNM has to offer.

“The fact that ASUNM can ask UNM to do something that helps UNM students so directly as to help them feel more comfortable not only just going to school here and interacting with other people, but helping them identify with who they are, I think is just really super important,” Williams said.

Frankie Flores, who works at the LGBTQ Resource Center, said the preferred name campaign is one that arose recently out of necessity. He said the goal is to work with UNM administration, as well as registrars and Information Technologies, to try and make it possible for transgender students to officially identify with whatever name they are most comfortable with, something that has become increasingly difficult.

Flores said that a number of students have reached out to the LGBTQ Resource Center because of harassment they have experienced due to the name they identify with not being identical with their name on official school records. One student in particular had this issue with their professor.

“They were charged with academic dishonesty and essentially told that they were going to fail the class,” Flores said. “We worked with them and the professor and it was sorted out, but that’s an impetus for us to push this forward.”

Flores called the campaign a multi-layered one. According to the LGBTQ Resource Center’s website, UNM is not yet technologically capable of utilizing a preferred name option for school records. However, the website states that “the LGBTQ Resource Center is working with multiple departments on campus (including Data Management, Office of the Registrar, Lobo ID office, and more) in order to bring this option to students in the near future.”

Flores said he thinks the passing of ASUNM’s resolution will help transgender students feel supported and comfortable at UNM.

“I think it gives them a feeling of safety and inclusiveness,” Flores said. “It shows that this University is behind them, and the University is supporting them.”

Williams said that it is important for students to understand the struggles that the transgender community endures. She said that the initiative has the potential to go a long way for that population.

“It might not resonate with students to understand that some people don’t have as strong of an identity,” Williams said. “It’s something so small as to just allow them to change their name to whatever they’re most comfortable with, to something they can express themselves in.”

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ASUNM Sen. Nadia Cabrera, who authored the resolution along with Sen. Katherine Luce, also said she believed that the impact could be huge.

“I think this is a small change that can make a big difference,” Cabrera said. “It’s about getting the word out about transgender students and the struggles that they have. I don’t think enough of us know what they go through.”

The passing of the resolution coincides with the LGBTQ Resource Center’s Transgender Week of Remembrance at UNM, according to a flyer from the resource center. Several events were held throughout the week to show support for the transgender community, including a candle light vigil and a community forum.

BestColleges.com recently ranked UNM 17th in their top 30 schools in the nation with the best outreach and resources for LGBTQ students.

Cabrera said that the timing is perfect.

“It’s an added bonus,” she said. “I think this was a great move to get leadership and other students involved in the conversation and supporting all of our students.”

Williams said that the resolution, as well as the preferred name initiative it supports, is just another step in an ongoing process for the University.

“We need to continue to do the best that we can and continue to hopefully rise on that scale,” Williams said. “We want to make the nation know that we are here to support our students and particular communities to help them feel comfortable in the skin that they’re in and the name that they’re called.”

David Lynch is a staff reporter at The Daily Lobo. He can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.

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