PCC Changes Name Rules to help Transgender Students
By Natasha Cmajdalka, Gender Inclusive Spaces Committee, Portland Community College
Beginning January 2015, class rosters at Portland Community College have reflected the preferred names of students rather than their legal names. While this may seem like a small adjustment to some, it is a significant step forward in the work that PCC is engaging in to ensure the college is as safe and accessible as possible for transgender and gender nonconforming students, faculty, and staff. While having preferred name reflected on class rosters will benefit any student who uses a nickname rather than a given name, it is uniquely beneficial for transgender students for whom a legal name may reflect a gender they do not identify as.
Portland Community College has the highest population of transgender and gender nonconforming students of any Community College in Oregon, and one of the highest of any higher education institution in the state, including University of Oregon and Portland State University. In a 2013 statewide survey conducted by the Oregon Student Association, it was found that 7% of students at Cascade Campus identify as transgender or gender nonconforming; University of Oregon is the only other college with a comparably high trans population at 7% as well. 6% of students at both Rock Creek and Sylvania Campuses identify as trans or gender nonconforming, and 4% of students at Southeast Campus. The community college with the next highest percentage of trans students was Rogue Community College, with 3% of its student body identifying along the trans spectrum.
The Gender Inclusive Spaces Committee, a group of students, staff, and faculty at the college advocating for trans culturally responsive policies and practices, partnered with Technology Solution Services, Student Systems Services, and Student Affairs to make this class roster change a reality. This collaborative effort will continue as other systems at the college are slated to be updated to reflect preferred name where it is possible.
This change comes on the heels of the decision to construct 22 new gender neutral bathrooms as part of the PCC Bond Project; these new facilities will increase accessibility for people of all genders. Gendered bathrooms, those labeled “men” or “women”, pose barriers for many transgender and gender nonconforming community members. Increasing gender neutral bathroom options on each campus increases the accessibility of the College as a whole. These bathrooms, like the class roster change, will serve the needs of a variety of people in addition to the transgender and gender nonconforming communities, including parents and people with disabilities.