rainbow crosswalk

A pedestrian walks past one of the rainbow crosswalks Tuesday evening in downtown Gainesville near Bo Diddley Plaza.

Transgender students who do not use their legal names will be able to change the way it appears on Canvas this Spring.

Next semester, changing display names on Canvas will be easier for students, teaching assistants and faculty who use a name different or their “deadname,” which is a person’s birth name that a transgender person may no longer use. 

Canvas will uniformly display chosen display names for students, teaching assistants and faculty who are in the One.UF system beginning Spring 2020, said Tammy Aagard, associate vice president for enrollment management at UF in an email.

Students can change their display name by logging onto One.UF, and selecting the directory profile option from the upper right icon. Under the name section, students can select the display name to edit it, she said. Although this has been available for years, the online systems will now be uniform.  

“Your name is who you are, and it matters deeply to all of us, so we’ve made the process more transparent and easy to use,” Aagard wrote. 

For students like Julien Habif, a 23-year-old UF biomedical doctoral student who is transgender, being able to change the display name is a step in the right direction and could help prevent students from being misgendered. However, the change is not enough if students are not able to change their GatorLink username as well, he wrote in an email. 

He was able to change his display name on his UF email, which gave him a sense of validation, but was told that he would not be able to change his GatorLink username, which was also his email, until he legally changed his name.

“My display name or even how I signed my emails made little difference when the receiver of my emails was seeing a feminine name,” Habif wrote. “This prevented me from emailing those that I wasn’t out to, even potential employers and collaborators I met at national conferences.”

On July 9, Habif legally changed his name. UF accepted his legal name change, but UF IT has not changed his email. He is thankful for the support he has gotten at UF, including from Trans at UF, a discussion and social group, but he is frustrated by the policies and how they are enacted. 

“All in all, the University of Florida giving us the ability to change our display name without being able to change your GatorLink is useless and could even be dangerous if it outs a trans student,” he said.