Administrative Policies

AD84 Preferred Name and Gender Identity Policy (Formerly Preferred Name Policy)

Policy Status: 

Active

Policy Steward: 

Vice President for Administration

Contents:

  • Purpose
  • Preface
  • Policy
  • Process
  • Further Information
  • PURPOSE:

    This policy provides guidance for the establishment of a preferred name and/or gender identity within the University's information systems.

    PREFACE:

    Preferred Name: This mechanism is intended for those who have a reason for utilizing a preferred name instead of, or in addition to, their legal name, such as individuals in the process of gender transition or those who have a safety concern.

    Preferred Gender: This mechanism is intended for those who have a reason for utilizing a Gender Identity instead of, or in addition to, their legal Gender, such as individuals in the process of gender transition or those who have a safety concern.

    POLICY:

    Preferred Name:

    The Pennsylvania State University recognizes the need or preference for members of the University community to refer to themselves by a first name other than their legal first name. As long as the use of this name is not intended for the purposes of avoiding legal obligations or for misrepresentation, the University acknowledges that a “preferred name” can be used where possible in the course of University business and education.

    Only the first name may be designated to appear as a preferred name, in systems which can accommodate it. The person’s preferred name may be used in University communications and informational materials except where the use of the legal name is required by University business or legal need. Not all University information systems, databases, and processes may be able to display a preferred name, and many uses require display of the legal name; therefore, individuals who utilize a preferred name within University systems should always be prepared to reference their legal name and provide corresponding identification when necessary.

    The University reserves the right to refuse a preferred name. Instances that may result in this prohibition include arbitrary or repeated name changes; the use of profane words; names that may be used for fraudulent purposes; or other situations deemed appropriate.

    Except as set forth below, the individual is free to determine the preferred name he or she wants to be known by in University information systems. Only the first name may be designated for the preferred name; the last name must remain the same as the full legal last name in the system.

    The following list provides examples of appropriate preferred name options at this time:

    • A shortened version of the full legal name may be used (for example, Christine to “Chris”).
    • Initials may be used (David Craig to “D. C.”; Mary Ann to “ M.A.”; Teresa Jeanette to “T.J.”).
    • A different first name than the legal first name may be used (David Craig to “Christy”; Christine to “Cory”; Crystal Lynn to “Lynn”).

    In the instances where a member of the University community utilizes a preferred name in various University information systems, it should be understood that for University business, it will still be necessary that the legal name be used wherever the legal name is required by University business or legal need. This may, but is not limited to, include financial, medical, and law enforcement documents, transcripts, diplomas, W-4 forms, I-9 forms, payroll documents, Visa/immigration documents, personnel files, employment applications and related documents, background check documents, and insurance documents.

    Gender Identity:

    The Pennsylvania State University recognizes the need or preference for members of the University community to self-assert a Gender other than their Legal Gender or their Gender at the time of birth (sometimes called “Birth Gender). As long as the use of this Gender assertion is not intended for the purposes of avoiding legal obligations or for misrepresentation, the University acknowledges that a “Gender Identity” can be used where possible in the course of University business and education.

    The person’s Gender Identity may be used in University communications and informational materials except where the use of the legal Gender is required by University business or legal need. Not all University information systems, databases, and processes may be able to store or display a separate Gender Identity, and there may be uses that require display of the legal Gender; therefore, individuals who utilize a Gender Identity within University systems should always be prepared to reference their legal Gender as well and to provide corresponding identification when necessary.

    Except as set forth below, the individual is free to determine the Gender Identity they want to be known by in University information systems. The following is the list of Gender Identity options available at this time:

    • Man
    • Woman
    • Other

    In the instances where a member of the University community uses a Gender Identity in various University information systems, it should be understood that for University business, it will still be necessary that the legal Gender be used wherever the legal Gender is required by University business or legal need. This may include but is not limited to financial, medical, and law enforcement documents, transcripts, diplomas, W-4 forms, I-9 forms, payroll documents, Visa/immigration documents, personnel files, employment applications and related documents, background check documents, and insurance documents.

    PROCESS:

    In order to simplify compliance with policies and procedures related to the management of person identity information under Penn State Administrative Policy AD80, Penn State Identity Services (IdS) and the Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) coordinated an initiative to establish the Penn State Person Biographical (Bio) Record. The Person Bio Record is a shared set of data elements related to person identity whose definitions are collectively understood and adhered to, created and maintained under shared policies and procedures.​

    Employees: Information about procedures related to an employee’s Legal Name, Preferred Name, Gender Designation, or related to withholding directory information, is available through the Penn State Person Biographical (Bio) Record website. A preferred name designation is not a legal name change. If an employee’s name has been legally changed, Policy HR66Change of Legal Name of an Employee, applies. Members of the Penn State Employee community requesting use of a preferred name for reasons related to gender transition, or those who have a safety concern should contact the Affirmative Action Office, which will provide liaison to relevant information systems offices when needed.

    Students: Information about procedures related to a student’s Legal Name, Preferred Name, Gender Designation, or related to withholding directory information, is available through the Penn State Person Biographical (Bio) Record website. Members of the Penn State Student community requesting use of a preferred name for reasons related to gender transition, or those who have a safety concern should contact the LGBTQA Student Resource Center or the Center for Women Students, who will provide liaison to the relevant information system offices when needed.

    Alumni: Alumni Association members may update their personal information through the “Update Your Info” link on the Alumni Association website, by email, or by phone. Detailed information may be found at the Alumni Association website.

    FURTHER INFORMATION:

    For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact Identity Services. In addition, students may contact the LGBTQA Student Resource Center or the Center for Women Students; faculty or staff may contact the Office of Affirmative Action.

    Effective Date: April 5, 2017
    Date Approved: April 3, 2017
    Date Published: April 5, 2017

    Most recent changes:

    • April 5, 2017 - Major changes have been made throughout the entire policy. Verbiage added to provide guidance regarding gender identity within the University's information systems. Edits made to the POLICY and PROCESS sections to better clarify compliance with policies and procedures related to the management of person identity information.

    Revision History (and effective dates):

    • January 27, 2014 - New policy.