Best Practices

Encourage and affirm self-identification

  • Use "updated" in the place of "preferred" when referring to a name transition. 
  • Use "pronouns" in place of "preferred pronouns." 
  • Do NOT assume gender or pronouns. 
  • Introduce yourself with your pronouns. By doing so you acknowledge that pronouns and names matter and individuals are more likely to feel comfortable doing the same.
  • If you do introductions, suggest that individuals say their names and pronouns. However, never insist someone say their pronouns. Insisting is counter productive to self-identification.

Do NOT assume: Gender Is NOT Obvious

  • Avoid stereotyping gender roles i.e. asking "women" to clean up or "men" to move boxes.  
  • Use inclusive, gender neutral, language. Avoid calling a group "guys" or "ladies and gentlemen." "Students," "folks," and "ya'll" are great alternatives. 

Apologize if you mis-gender someone

  • If you make a mistake, correct yourself. Going on as if it did not happen is actually less respectful than making the correction. This also saves the person who was misidentified from having to correct an incorrect pronoun assumption that has now been planted in the minds of any other participants in the conversation who heard the mistake.
  • If someone else makes a mistake, correct them. It is polite to provide a correction, whether or not the person whose pronoun as misused is present, in order to avoid future mistakes and in order to correct the mistaken assumption that might now have been planted in the minds of any other participants in the conversation who heard the mistake.

Do NOT read names off of rosters. Use alternative attendance taking methods:

  • Ask the individuals present to identify themselves. Then settle any discrepancies with printed or electronic materials in private. 
  • Pass around an attendance sheet, asking individuals to write their names, their roster names (if different), and their pronouns.
  • Bring supplies for individuals to make name tents for their desks. Make it clear that you’re asking that they write their name (which you know is not necessarily their roster name). Invite them to also include their pronouns. Collect the name tents at the end of class & hand them back at the beginning of all subsequent meetings. Be sure to make one for yourself as well.

This list was compiled using a variety of sources including Mount Holyoke College's Supporting Trans and Non-Binary Students webpage.

Name Update Information for Transgender and Non-Binary Students

If you ever wish to connect in person about this process or anything else, contact us at intercultural [at] (intercultural[at]emerson[dot]edu).

Emerson recognizes that transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming students may not use the name that they were assigned at birth, as it does not reflect their identity. We also recognize that for a variety of reasons students may not wish to go through a legal name change or may be in the middle of doing so, but wish to have their records reflect their chosen name before the process is complete.

There are three types of names that the college can have on file for one individual:

  • Legal Name: the name that appears on your current government identifications such as your birth certificate, social security card, or passport.
  • Preferred Name: which is your “Updated Name” is meant to be your proper name.
  • College Recognized Name: which is your “Nickname” is meant to be a substitute for your proper name (if you have one that you like to go by).


Note: without a court documented legal name change, ONLY first names may be updated. 

Legal name - Joseph Doe
Preferred Name - Jennifer Doe
College Recognized Name - Jen Doe

For name updates that do NOT require legal documentation complete this form and note the following:

  • For verification purposes, all correspondence about your name update request will be made via your current email account.
  • Mail sent to your home address will typically use your updated name; please keep this in mind when determining if it is safe for you to update your name with the College.
  • Your legal name will still be used for such items as a transcript and anywhere else that your legal name is required, including but not limited to insurance claims, medical records, immigration information, tax forms and loan documents. Visit this table to learn where you should expect to see your college recognized name (nickname) or preferred name (updated name).
  • Your legal name does NOT have to appear on your diploma or be called as you cross the stage at graduation. In your final semester you will receive a Declaration of Intent to Graduate form where you may designate your name as you would like for it to appear on your diploma.
  • Emerson College transcripts and diplomas do NOT specifically reference gender.
  • We are working to include pronouns where helpful, but we do not have the capability at this time.
  • To receive an updated Emerson Identification (EID) at no cost, you will have to turn in your current EID; the ID Office is located on the first floor of Piano Row in the near the Piano Row laundry room. Note: The first reprint of an ID Card, requesting a name update, will be free of charge for Students, Faculty and Staff. There will be a $25.00 reprint fee associated with any additional name update requests. Legal name changes will continue to be free of charge.
  • Please complete this short survey to provide feedback about your experience with this process.
  • If you ever wish to connect in person about this process or anything else, contact us at intercultural [at] (intercultural[at]emerson[dot]edu).