Transgender and nonbinary college graduates in California could have the right to change their legal name and gender on their diplomas if a bill recently proposed in the state legislature become law.
Under Assembly Bill 2023, California would be required to correct any legal name or gender changes of students on their diplomas from Cal States, UCs and California Community Colleges.
Introduced Jan. 29 by Assembly member David Chiu, D-San Francisco, the proposed bill aligns with Assembly bill 711, which was signed into law in August.
AB 711 allowed transgender and nonbinary students to correct information on their K-12 school transcripts.
Both bills were designed to address obstacles transgender and nonbinary students face when correcting their legal name or gender on school documents, said Jen Kwart, spokeswoman for Chiu.
“AB 2023 aims at making sure students’ diplomas accurately reflect who they are,” Kwart said.
“These students worked hard for their degree and should be represented to their preference,” she added.
Under the proposed law when students register for graduation, public universities would be required to provide an option for students to submit the preferred name they want to see on their diplomas.
In order to change information on legal documents, students would have to undergo a legal process where they would need to obtain legal documentation stating a change in name or gender.
These documents could be in the form of a driver’s license, birth certificate, passport, social security card or a court order indicating a change in name, gender or both.
The student would need to provide their school with these documents and request the specific records they would like to modify.
Madison Thompson, student program assistant at the Queer and Transgender Center for California State University San Bernardino, said she appreciates the efforts that are being made to address the unique barriers transgender college students face.
“I think the most beneficial aspect of this bill is that these students will feel seen and recognized for all their accomplishments,” Thompson said. “Just having this discussion about transgender and nonbinary students paves a way for awareness and inclusivity.”
Steven Avila, student program assistant at the Queer and Transgender Center for California State San Bernardino, said although he supports AB 2023, he believes it should have been introduced sooner.
“These types of bills should be implemented in all states because there are transgender and nonbinary college students who seek this type of help everywhere,” Avila said.
Billy Curtis, director of Gender and Equity Resources Center at University of California, Berkeley, said AB 2023 will not only eliminate a barrier for transgender and nonbinary students but also change the perception of the institutions themselves.
“AB 2023 (would) how the college works… working from the inside out, which is important,” Curtis said.
Curtis said that a diploma is much more than a piece of paper to a student.
Moreso, receiving such a prestigious achievement should represent the student at that specific stage in their life.
“A diploma is something you hang on the wall with great achievement and can take 2 to 8 years per degree,” Curtis said.
“Students want to see a name that they connect with.
“This is a concept that people have not given much thought to but should.”