UC Berkeley alumna receives diploma with deadname instead of chosen name

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UC Berkeley alumna and former ASUC senator Juniperangelica Cordova expressed her disappointment on Twitter upon realizing her diploma she worked hard to acquire contained her pre-transition name, or deadname, rather than the name she created for herself “with love.”

Cordova explained in an email she was expecting there to be a mix-up with the delivery of her diploma to her new address after having recently moved. Her diploma arrived at her new home Tuesday, however, and she was looking forward to opening it.

“I couldn’t contain my excitement while I was at work, excitedly thinking about driving home after work and getting to open it,” Cordova said in an email.

Cordova said her excitement instantly dampened as she opened up the envelope to find her deadname printed in the middle of the document. She added in her email that being called any other name than “Juniperangelica” entails erasing everything she has worked toward.

ASUC Senator Romario, who does not use a last name and is Cordova’s personal friend, said in an email he was “heartbroken, shocked, and angered that this university would dead name a graduate in such a way.”

Campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore said in an email that federal privacy laws impede UC Berkeley from discussing any student’s records. She explained, however, that diplomas are issued on an individual’s legal name.

Gilmore indicated that the campus is open to working with any students who may have concerns regarding the accuracy of the name on their diploma.

“Students have the option of updating their legal name so that their diploma will not reflect the previous name on file,” Gilmore said in an email. “In some cases, of course, errors or oversights may occur.”

According to Cordova, campus administrators informed her that this circumstance was not a mistake, as they correctly followed the current campus policies, which do not allow chosen names on diplomas or transcripts; instead the students’ legal name is required.

Queer Alliance and Resource Center director Mia Villasenor noted in an email that UC Berkeley students are allowed to change their preferred names on CalCentral, class rosters and their Cal 1 Cards but can only change their preferred name once during their entire stay on campus. Villasenor said in the email that she believes this policy is not reflective of the reality of many transgender students’ experiences on campus.

Cordova said in her email that she thinks campus should “immediately” change policies preventing students from choosing the names printed on their diplomas.

“I am working with admin to see what is possible, but harm has already been done,” Cordova said in an email. “I hope admin are committed to seeing some kind of change follow through.”

Contact Olivia González Britt at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Oliviagbritt.