Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 1, 2022

University updates name change policies, but some systems fall behind

By HELEN LACEY | October 26, 2022

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COURTESY OF ISHAN KALBURGE

Although many University systems have been updated to allow for name changes, some have yet to be updated.

The University announced updates to its name change policies in an email to the student body on Oct. 13. Students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to input their chosen first, middle and last name within almost 40 University systems. 

The updated policy intends to increase support for LGBTQ+ University affiliates. The University also updated its health insurance policies in July to provide gender-affirming care benefits, which put Hopkins in line with current World Professional Association for Transgender Health standards.

Junior Eirnin Mahoney discussed their reaction to the updated name change policy in an email to The News-Letter.

“[These changes] are an important step forward for inclusion at the university,” they wrote. “The previous approach, where chosen names were only allowed in certain systems, resulted in an inconsistent patchwork where it was difficult to predict what name you would be addressed by in different emails and offices on campus.”

In an email to The News-Letter, Assistant Vice President for Media Relations & News J.B. Bird noted that the University broadcast’s main purpose was to remind students about the updates from the July email, which include giving students the option to use their chosen name in University systems and expanding gender-affirming care benefits under University health insurance.

Since the announcement in the summer, Bird wrote that the system updates for naming have been implemented to five systems and that several others are in progress.

Postdoctoral fellow Jo Giardini asserted that healthcare systems have yet to be updated in an email to The News-Letter.

​​“Importantly, MyChart and other JH Medical systems are managed separately, and have not been affected by the changes mentioned in the email, though we hope that there will be serious work addressing these discrepancies,“ they wrote.

In an email to The News-Letter, junior Hyejeong Ahn described her name change process. She changed her last name from “An” to “Ahn” so that it would not be confused with the English first name “Anne.” She wrote that there are still places where her unchanged name appears.

“My name is still Hyejeong An on my ID card and my email is han12,“ she wrote.

Bird emphasized that updating University systems to allow for name changes is an ongoing process.

“[The University is] not in a position to promise changes across all systems right now, simply because of the great number of systems used across all JHU campuses, but that’s an ongoing process to identify systems that are most visible and impactful to the students, faculty and staff seeking to change how Hopkins notes their chosen names,” he wrote.

The University broadcast stated that the administration is committed to making Hopkins a place where LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff can thrive. However, Giardini highlighted that the University’s failure to meet other demands made by trans students, such as revoking Angela Merkel’s honorary degree, is in tension with this commitment.

Giardini detailed other failures of the University in regard to caring for transgender and non-binary students. They described issues with the expanded gender-affirming care benefits.

“Trans and non-binary people who have tried to get details about exact policies haven't been able to find them, and have even been told by insurers that they weren't aware of any changes to the relevant policies,“ they wrote. “This has meant that even if Hopkins has changed the policies, they have not actually made care any more accessible.”

In an email to The News-Letter, doctoral student Ryan Warwick stressed the importance of the University recognizing its history when developing systems for making name changes.

“You would think that a University that has had such a direct historical role in the development and subsequent suppression of gender affirming treatment would be at the forefront of designing systems like this,” he wrote. “The slowness to act on the part of University leadership is indicative of how this history has been pushed under the rug.”

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