University ID Cards Creating Distress and Costs for Gender-Diverse Students

26 April 2018

The University of Melbourne’s administrative system requires a student’s name to be changed legally before it can be changed on their ID card, placing a financial burden on gender diverse students.

This is because the University does not have a secondary system alongside their legal database that supports gender-diverse students by recording their preferred name.

The current system does allow a preferred name to be listed. However, according to University of Melbourne Student Union’s queer office bearers Elinor Mills and Amelia Reeves, University staff often ignore the listed “preferred name”.

“While this is obviously a nuanced issue, this policy hurts transgender students, who must choose between the expensive hassle of a legal name change or being regularly deadnamed on campus,” said Mills and Reeves. Deadnaming means referring to a gender-diverse person by the name they were assigned at birth, if they have taken a new name.

While some students may be eligible for a free replacement passport with a new name after gender transition, they must present a Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages change of name certificate to receive it. It costs $106.10 for a Victorian adult to change the name on their birth certificate. This cost may be higher for international or interstate students.

Many students, such as Alex McFadden, cannot afford to undergo this process, yet face regular distress due to the name on their ID card.

“I haven’t been able to legally change my name because of the associated costs. I have to save money to pay for exchange,” McFadden said.

“My deadname is everywhere because of my ID card, and not only do I have to look at it but lots of other people get to see. My ID card currently has a piece of paper stuck to it to cover my deadname, but those who don’t know me don’t allow this as identification.”

This issue extends to all University services including medical and counselling.

“I went to the crisis councillor to speak about an issue. First, I was deadnamed. Second, I had to explain to them what non-binary was.”

The University said that despite the complex nature of student ID cards and formal documentation, “The University of Melbourne supports gender diversity.”

“However, as the student card is effectively an official document, which is also used to apply for PTV concession cards, credit cards and other forms of identity checking, the University is required to record it exactly in line with identity documentation. This is also important as a strategy to combat identity fraud.”

Mills and Reeves had a different opinion.“The real fix would be to simply trust transgender students. We aren’t trying to pull a fast one on the University, we just want to be referred to by our own names without jumping through hoops.”

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