The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, December 6, 2005 - 7
Continued from page 1
under his legal name.
University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said stu-
dents can change their names on CTools by obtaining a
legal name change and notifying the Office of the Registrar
of the change.
But for many transgender students, a legal name change
is an extremely personal decision with many potentially
unwanted consequences, Colon said.
Transgender is a term that encompasses a wide range of
individuals who identify, behave or express themselves in
ways not traditionally associated with their birth sex.
"There (are) a million reasons for which a transgender
person might need to have a chosen name but not change
their legal name," he said.
Some students may have acknowledged their transgender
identity at the University but not yet at home. They some-
times use one name with family and another at school, he
said. Others may have sentimental or professional reasons
for not wanting to change their names legally.
For Col6n, his legal name is a link to his roots in Puerto
Rico and Austin, Texas and to his long history as an activist,
when he identified as female. In those communities, he feels
comfortable being addressed by his legal name, he said.
"I don't feel I'm ready right now (to change my name
legally), but I'm ready to use (my chosen name) as a public
statement here," Colon said. "This is a new time in my
life," he added.
At his previous job, Col6n said, his employers were able
to accommodate his situation by putting his confidential
contract and financial information under his legal name but
using his preferred male name on all public documents.
At University Health Services and the Office of Finan-
cial Aid, the staff has been able to similarly accommodate
his request, he added. Since he told them of his desire to be
known as Sebastiin, the staffs at both offices have made
notes in his file and use only that name, although his records
are still under his legal name, he said.
"The University is trying," Colon said. "I want to trust
that. I choose to."
But the discomfort he experiences from knowing that his
legal name is available online and in the directory for class-
mates and professors to see has made his experience at the
University nerve-wracking and stressful at times.
According to a report from the Subcommittee for
Name Changes, part of the Provost's Task Force on the
Campus Climate for Transgender, Bisexual, Lesbian and
Gay Faculty, Staff and Students, the current computer sys-
tem is unable to use nonlegal names, but other options are
available to work around the problem.
Such solutions include using a nickname on CTools in
addition to, not instead of the legal name; creating a "Friend"
account on CTools, which requires permission from indi-
vidual instructors; making a directory listing private so that
only the e-mail address is available; and creating an e-mail
group under the preferred name.
"It's not perfect, but it's the best we can do," Cunning-
ham said. "And we're not finished."
University members may one day have the option of
substituting a preferred or professional name in University
databases, but that choice is currently not available because
of the technical situation, according to the report.
The subcommittee recommended updating Wolver-
ine Access to allow students and staff to input preferred
names that would be used in the online and paper direc-
tories. The change would cost an estimated $96,700, the
The School of Social Work has tried to discuss the pos-
sibility of allowing transgender students to use nonlegal
names on CTools with University computer technicians,
but has not been successful, said Dean Richard Tolman,
associate dean of the School of Social Work.
In the meantime, the school tries to limit problems
for transgender students by alerting professors before the
first day of class about those who wish to use a name
different from the one on the class list and encouraging
professors to use e-mail discussions instead of CTools,
"It's not perfect, but that's the way we try to work
around," he said.
But even with these measures, problems arise. Because
his papers on CTools must be posted under his legal name,
Colon said many students in his classes have become con-
fused about how to address him. In one class, students
became so confused, Col6n said he was forced to make
an uncomfortable presentation to the entire class explain-
ing his transgender identity and his desire to be known by
his male name.
Col6n also said that while his professors this semester
have been very supportive and careful about using his cho-
sen name, he fears that one day he may encounter someone
who will not be as understanding.
"My professors were cool, but what if not?" Colon said.
"Who am I to call them out?"
Tolman, the Social Work associate dean, said he has tried
to lead the way in promoting a positive campus climate for
transgender University members.
"(As social workers), that's what we're supposed to be
brilliant at," Tolman said. "Social workers are people who
are supposed to eliminate barriers"
After the provost's task force issued its report, the School
of Social Work formed its own task force to examine issues
facing transgender students. The task force's report revealed
the need for more education for faculty and students about
LGBT issues, which the school has been trying to provide,
Tolman said. But he added that a truly welcoming climate
will take years to achieve.
"It takes a lot of energy and commitment," Tolman said.
Fighting to have his chosen name used in public
University directories has indeed taken a lot of energy,
"It's overwhelming, and it's scary, and it's difficult," he
said. "I'm tired. It's too much. ... I'm supposed to be read-
ing, doing papers."
Col6n said he worries that if the process for changing
a name in the University system remains so inflexible, it
will be an insurmountable obstacle for younger students
or for students who are just acknowledging their transgen-
If the process is so painful and difficult for him, a gradu-
ate student with years of experience in activism, Col6n won-
dered, "What about a first year undergrad? Or what about
someone who comes here, and they haven't come out? ...
They should have support, not barriers."
Names are an important part of identity, Col6n. While
the University is working to make the campus more wel-
coming for transgender individuals, he said more needs
to be done.
His message to administrators: "I know you want to, and
I'm telling you it's urgent."
Continued from page 1
have been run and complaining to the paper's editors with vitriol, the individu-
als who were angry we ran the cartoon should see the cartoon as an opportunity
for dialogue - an opportunity to poke holes in an opposing or disingenuous
I will cut any cartoon that advocates violence or that uses images that per-
petuate racist stereotypes. I stand by my decision to run the cartoon in question,
however, and I will not cut a cartoon in the future merely because its message
offends some students who view it with the most cynical interpretation possible.
N Iy deference to the First Amendment, however, does not mean that
the Daily is not partially at fault or that we are not listening to what
students are telling us. We need to do a better job explaining the way
our paper works. Since the cartoon ran more than a week ago, we have added a
disclaimer to the editorial page that clarifies the distinction between staff editori-
als and personal viewpoints.
We also waited too long to react to the last boycott. Instead of seriously consid-
ering what students were telling us, we felt attacked and became defensive.
When I became the editor of the Daily in February, I made the issue of diver-
sity at the paper one of my top priorities. The Daily is not very racially and ethni-
cally diverse, which is not only morally troubling, but also damaging the quality
of our paper. Many newspapers across the country have this problem, and despite
its efforts, our university, from which we draw our staff, is far from representative
of the state of Michigan, let alone Southeast Michigan.
In February, I formed a commission of editors and writers on the Daily's staff
to examine the work environment at the paper and the perceptions members of
multicultural communities have of the Daily. After months of work, the com-
mission will release its findings, recommendations and plans to implement those
changes in tomorrow's Daily. The report will also be made public.
Last Thursday, we held a meeting between the Daily's cartoonists, editorial page
editors, myself and my successor, Donn Fresard, to talk about the importance of
being sensitive and accurate when portraying minorities. This term we have also
begun to think more carefully about how we identify suspects in our crime cover-
age, and we have become much more selective about when we print a suspect's race.
The Daily takes criticism seriously. Newspapers serve their communities,
which means we cannot become detached and unaccountable. But we will
never shrink from our obligation to bring you competing points of view on the
key issues facing this campus. If we do our job well, we will help foster a more
dynamic and a more just campus.
Pesick can be reached at
the michigan daily
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For Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2005
(March 21 to April 19)
Time spent with friends, groups and
organizations will please you in the next
six weeks. You feel extra-friendly
toward others now. This feeling will last
for a while.
(April 20 to May 20)
Bosses, VIPs, parents and teachers
start to see you in a positive light. They
think you're the cat's meow! The next
few weeks are a good time to push your
(May 21 to June 20)
If you have an opportunity to register
for a course or take classes in something
during the next six to eight weeks, by all
means, do it! You're hungry to learn,
travel and expand your mind.
(June 21 to July 22)
In the next month or so, people will
become quite generous toward you.
Don't be afraid to accept this generosity.
There are probably no strings attached.
(July 23 to Aug. 22)
Close friendships and partnerships
certainly mean a lot to you now. It's easy
to express your affection to others.
Naturally, they will do likewise to you.
(We all love to be loved.)
much enjoyment in the next two months.
Get ready for fun!
(Oct. 23 to Nov. 21)
In the next few weeks, you'll enjoy
shopping for family members and for
pretty things for where you live. In fact,
all family relationships will improve.
(Nov. 22 to Dec. 21)
Relationships with siblings and neigh-
bors get cozier now. You enjoy the com-
pany of others. What you're beginning
to discover is just how much love there
is in your daily life.
(Dec. 22 to Jan. 19)
Be alert for good moneymaking
opportunities in the next few weeks.
Your cash flow will please you. You
might be spending more, but you might
be earning more as well.
(Jan. 20 to Feb. 18)
The month ahead is an excellent time
to buy wardrobe items. You're looking
good. Relations with close friends are
(Feb. 19 to March 20)
You're starting to feel better about
how things are working: less doubt,
more confidence. Bosses and VIPs are
impressed with you too! Life is good.
YOU BORN TODAY You're
extremely capable. You work hard at
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