Student Identity Work Group gathers input at #techtransfer2018

July 20, 2018
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Colorful display resembling the levels of different frequencies.

Last year, AACRAO announced the Student Identity Work Group and its charge to (1) develop guidance for AACRAO members and their institutions on serving transgender students and students who wish to update their gender marker change their legal name, (2) use a preferred name, or designate a pronoun, develop guidance on appropriate methods of collecting, recording, and reporting of name and gender identity in student record systems, (3) address practices in the student admissions process as well as those in student records and registration, and (4) consider impacts for other campus offices including but not limited to student financial aid, identity management (CIO), student housing, and student life.

In early 2018, the Student Identity Work Group delayed of their report, regrouped to discuss the topic more deeply, and announced James Miller from University of Washington at Bothell as the new work group chair.

Facilitated by Jack Miner, AACRAO’s VP of Finance, a Listening Session was held at the Tech and Transfer Conference in Minneapolis to inform the work group of best practices and direction from our membership. This session allowed AACRAO members to weigh in on a number of the areas the work group will address including terminology for gender identity and sex. AACRAO members in attendance shared their thoughts on the list of gender identities under consideration by the work group:

  • Male/Man
  • Female/Woman
  • Trans male/trans man
  • Trans female/trans woman
  • Gender queer/gender non-conforming
  • Different identity (please designate)

The discussion centered around whether this list of terms were currently being used on campus. They also discussed the goal of having a more uniform set of terms used across institutions that are provided (with an opportunity for a student to designate an option not provided). This provides flexibility for students but also provides opportunities for institutions to analyze aggregate data and report on cohorts when appropriate.  

The Listening Session also looked at the term “sex” and how it was being used at various institutions. Here, there was consensus that institutions should continue to offer a binary option (male/female) because the sex designation was more often being used for legal reporting including the Department of Education. It was noted that the discussion could change as individual states begin to allow for a 3rd designation on birth certificates. In addition, the group had resonance around the term “Legal Sex” as the label used in systems and on forms because it emphasized the distinction between sex and gender.  Additionally, “Legal Sex” was preferred to “Sex at Birth” because it provided more flexibility for individual student situations and how individual states have legislated around the ability to make updates to birth certificates.

AACRAO encourages members to continue providing input to the work group by contacting James Miller and Jack Miner.

AACRAO Values promote inclusiveness within the expected Principles and Standards of Behavior. As the work group addresses this issue, we encourage members to reach out to U.S. Senators and Representatives to do the same by updating their contact forms to make the selection of a prefix optional. Learn more at the AACRAO Advocacy Center.


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