Trans and gender non-conforming people deal with a particular set of challenges in navigating their day to day lives. It’s hard to feel comfortable or safe in spaces that are implicitly and explicitly made to exclude you. Dealing with this on campus, while juggling academic and extracurricular needs, can be really frustrating and tiring. It’s an unnecessary added stress to worry about being harassed for just using a washroom, or misgendered, or deadnamed at every turn. So, here are a few things to make your time on campus easier.
If you’ve transitioned to a chosen name, but haven’t changed it legally, you can file a Preferred Name Request. This allows you to change the name on your student card, class lists, Moodle, and exam rosters. Your legal name will still need to be on any official documents, but even so, doing this can make your day to day on campus a lot more comfortable. You can file a request by emailing email@example.com, and you will be asked to fill out a form and provide a valid ID.
If you’re worried about accessing washrooms during long days at school, the Centre for Gender Advocacy has a reference list of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. However, don’t wait until you need to use one to look up this resource. The washrooms can be hard to locate, or even inaccessible at times. Take the time when you’re on a break between classes, or just studying on campus, to go explore and find some washrooms on the list that suit your needs.
Similarly, the McGill website provides an index of gender-inclusive washrooms. As I said before, don’t wait until your hour of need to go find one. You’ll save yourself some unnecessary stress by preparing in advance.
To use your chosen name for services at McGill, you can add a preferred first name to your student file. You can do this on your initial admission application, or later on Minerva, by clicking the Personal Menu, and then Name Change. For further support with this, contact the Associate Registrar, Heidi Emami, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For All Gender Restrooms at Dalhousie, you can check out the list on the LGBTQ2SIA+ Collaborative web page, or find a PDF version here. Once again I recommend that, while discovering your new campus, you make your first order of business to always have a bathroom to go to!
Meanwhile, for name changes at Dalhousie, an explanation of the process is provided in the student guide. Similarly to McGill’s process, here you’ll need to log on to Dal Online and find the personal information tab to change your preferred name. As with the others, this will change the name provided on class lists and school communications, but not on formal documents. To change the latter, you would have to provide the Registrar’s Office with proof of a legal name change.
Having access to these resources won’t magically solve all the discrimination and stigmatization trans and GNC students still have to deal with, but I hope that it can help you make your time on campus a little less complicated and stressful. You deserve to experience all the best of university life, and to have a good time! 🏳️🌈
Concordia University, “Concordia Gender Neutral Bathroom List.” N.D. https://genderadvocacy.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/List-of-Concordia-Gender-Neutral-Bathrooms3.pdf
Concordia Student Hub. “Preferred name requests.” N.D., https://www.concordia.ca/students/preferred-name-requests.html
Dalhousie University. “”All Gender Restrooms on the Dalhousie Campus.” March 28, 2017, https://cdn.dal.ca/content/dam/dalhousie/pdf/campuslife/studentservices/healthandwellness/LGBTQ/A-G_Restrooms_March_28,%202017.pdf
Dalhousie University Human Rights and Equity Services. “LGBTQ2SIA+ Collaborative.” N.D., https://www.dal.ca/dept/hres/education-campaigns/communityspecificspaces/LGBTQ2SIA-collaborative.html
Dalhousie University Registrar’s Office. “Student Guide 2021-2022.” 2021, https://cdn.dal.ca/content/dam/dalhousie/pdf/admissions/Registrar/Student%20Guide%202021-22%20FINAL.pdf
Equity at McGill. “Gender-Inclusive Washrooms.” N.D., https://www.mcgill.ca/equity/resources/gender-sexuality/gender-inclusive-washrooms
McGill Student Records. “Name, Address, and SIN Changes.” N.D., https://www.mcgill.ca/student-records/personal-information/address