In collaboration with several DSU Council members, The Equity & Accessibility Office helped to write policy which will allow the use of preferred names in documents such class lists, student identification cards, university email addresses, and during convocation ceremonies. This was done in an effort to make Dalhousie University a safer and more inclusive space for transgender and gender non-conforming students. The implementation of these changes is now in the hands of the Registrar's Office and should be expected in the Fall 2014 semester.
From our press release,
"Currently students can only change their names on some documents through a complicated process of accessibility waivers. Being forced to use a legal name or having to navigate this process without supporting policy can be the source of great emotional and mental stress, dysphoria, and isolation. It also heightens the possibility of students being outed as a queer or transgender individual without their consent, an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation.
“We are now beginning to see a real shift in consciousness around building and implementing trans-supportive policies and services, but there is still a lot of work to be done. This represents a step in the right direction.” said Jude Ashburn, the Outreach Coordinator of the South House Sexual and Gender Resource Centre on Dalhousie campus.”
This past year the South House rallied publicly around a student who had experienced both blatant and systemic transphobia at Dalhousie. Jessica Dempsey, the student who motivated November's Justice for Jessica rally reacts to the policy change by saying, “It's amazing for our university to implement this change. It will help reduce barriers for myself and I hope that other Canadian universities will adopt this policy”.
In 2012 gender identity and gender expression were added to the list of ground on which someone cannot be discriminated against under the Nova Scotian Human Rights Act. This combined with Dalhousie president Dr. Richard Florizone's commitment to diversity and inclusiveness in his recent 100 Days of Listening report makes this a long overdue success."