For students who have already stopped attending the school—whether because they graduated or because they transferred, took time off, or so on—there is still the option to petition the school to update their name and gender on records. The student would have to provide a government-issued ID that includes their current name and gender, such as a passport or updated birth certificate. For people who are currently enrolled as students, however, they do not have to offer proof that they’ve legally changed their names.
Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco, who authored the bill, previously wrote another inclusive trans that’s already become law. That first bill mandates that public schools from kindergarten through 12th grade must update records for trans and nonbinary students to confirm their name and gender. Newsom signed that bill into law in 2019, the same year Chiu introduced it.
“Students should be able to celebrate their academic achievements without fear of being deadnamed,” Chiu said, stressing that deadnaming on official documents can “put up barriers to future employment and out a person in an unsafe situation.”
We know that trans folks face barriers when it comes to seeking both employment and housing as it is, and being “outed” to people who have the power to let you earn an income or have a roof over your head is obviously concerning. Even in the best-case scenario, where someone who is essentially a stranger handles the situation with grace, it’s still emotionally exhausting and stressful to be an already vulnerable person in an additionally vulnerable position. Knowing that your documents are in order can be a huge relief and perhaps literally life-changing.
Unfortunately, this legislation is still not perfect, as not all trans folks do have the opportunity to update their legal documents with their accurate information. It can be an expensive process, first of all, and can be a circular, complex issue of updating one item—say, a driver’s license—first, in order to update a separate item, like a passport. This process can also be complex if you don’t live in the same state where you first obtained a form of ID, like a license. For trans folks who are unhoused, paperwork can be particularly tough as items might first have to be replaced in order to be renewed. But still, the legislation is a huge step in the right direction.