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Name & Gender Identity

American University’s Name and Gender Identity tech pilot allows students on main campus with the option to change their names in many university systems without a legal name change. Reasons for doing so may include, but are not limited to, people who use nicknames of a legal name, people who use an anglicized name, or people who use a name that affirms their gender identity. This also allows students to select their personal pronouns and prefix. Note: During the pilot period in the Spring 2021 semester, only students on AU’s main campus will have chosen name update capabilities. The Chosen Name Working Group is moving forward in piloting these changes for WCL and faculty/staff, and will share further information once it is ready.

Use these buttons to navigate resources on chosen name and pronouns:

Chosen Name Process

Gender Identity, Pronouns, and Salutation

Diploma and Graduation Ceremonies 

Faculty & Staff Resources

Looking For Support?

The Office of Campus Life, the Office of the Registrar, The Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and the Office of Information Technology have sponsored this initiative.

Technical questions can be sent to changemyname@american.edu 

Chosen Name Process

American University is committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment where students, faculty, staff, and alumni are valued and supported. The AU community is strengthened by the diversity within it. AU recognizes that students may use names other than a legal name to identify themselves. Students on AU's main campus who would like their chosen name displayed across many AU systems are invited to submit a chosen name using the process outlined below.

Who Will Have Access to My Chosen Name?

The chosen name is not a private name. Your chosen name will display across many campus information systems, so, faculty, staff, and fellow students will be able to see and refer to you by your chosen name. Please be aware that your chosen name may be visible in AU technology systems, including student's myAU portal, to any proxies you designate. Most AU mail sent to your home address on file will also use your legal name.

The chosen name is also defined as public information and may be shared outside of the AU community as it is regarded as Directory Information under the Family Educational and Privacy Act (FERPA). Students who wish to restrict the release of their student information under FERPA, including chosen name, pronouns, gender identity, and salutation should submit a Student Request to Prevent Disclosure form to the Office of the University Registrar.

Where Will My Chosen Name Display?

Below are lists of which campus systems will use your chosen name and which will display your legal name:

Systems that Will Display Chosen Name:

  • Blackboard (Main Campus, non-WCL)
  • Canvas (Main Campus, non-WCL)
  • Engage (also known as Campus Labs)
  • Gmail
  • Section Roster
  • CRM Advise
  • C-CURE (One Card creation system)
  • Eagle Service User Profile and Advising View

Where Will My Legal Name Still Display?

There are some systems and campus processes that still require use of your legal name, often due to government regulations and law. For example, financial documents, official transcripts, and visa forms.

Systems That Will Display Legal Name:

  • Visa Forms
  • Pay Stubs
  • Official Transcripts
  • Student Loan Documentation

How Do I Submit a Chosen Name?

There are three steps to updating a chosen name:

  1. The first step to submitting your chosen name is through Eagle Service. Select “User Profile” on the top-right corner and enter your chosen name. Then, click on the "Edit Personal Identity" button. Adding your chosen name here will initiate the different technology and campus systems to update your display name. Please note, it takes approximately 24-48 hours for all campus systems to update.
  2. Once updated in Eagle Service, students are encouraged to request a new AU One Card reflecting the chosen name. To receive the new One Card, students can email idcards@american.edu and request a new card with their chosen name.

    The first change is done free of charge if the old One Card is returned to the One Card and Dining Services office at the time of replacement.

  3. Updating a chosen name in Eagle Service updates the display name for a student's email address, but does not automatically update a student's email address. The first letter of a student's email address can be changed with a request submitted to the Office of Information Technology Help Desk at helpdesk@american.edu. For example, Rebecca Doe who submits a chosen name, Becca, could email the Help Desk to have their email address changed from rd1234a@ to bd1234a@.

Can I Set My Chosen Name to Anything I Want?

Submitted chosen names are subject to review and clarification. Students who opt to use a chosen name must provide a name that is representative of themselves. AU reserves the right to remove chosen names that are obscene, use derogatory language, are not representative of the individual who submitted it, are used for fraudulent purposes, or in other situations deemed inappropriate.

When Can I Designate a Chosen Name, Gender Identity, and Pronoun?

You can designate this information in Eagle Service at any time. However, please remember that this information takes 24-48 hours to populate in available AU systems. We recommend updating your information as soon as possible before the semester starts so that you can be addressed correctly in class.

Why Is My Chosen Name Not Displaying Several Weeks After I Changed It?

If you notice that your legal name is displaying on a campus system several weeks after submitting your chosen name, please first check the lists above to make sure that system is supposed to display your chosen name.

If a student sees their legal name displayed in a location where they are expecting to see their chosen name, the Office of the University Registrar should be contacted at record_services@american.edu.

What Do I Do If Faculty/Staff Aren’t Referring to Me By My Chosen Name and Pronouns?

Chosen name and pronouns will not show up in every system at AU. If you feel comfortable, we recommend first reaching out to your professor or the staff member to ensure they are aware of your chosen name and begin addressing you accordingly.

Discrimination on the basis of gender identity is prohibited under law. AU has two policies that address discrimination: (1) Discrimination and Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct Policy and (2) Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy. If you believe you are experiencing misgendering or mis-naming, you may contact the Office of Equity and Title IX at equityoffice@american.edu or TitleIX@american.edu to file a complaint and/or to discuss your options and resources. 

If I Wanted To, How Would I Change My Legal Name?

A legal name change is not required to designate a chosen name to display in AU systems. However, some students may choose to pursue a legal name change during their time at AU. You can learn more at the District of Columbia Courts website.  

Whitman Walker—DC’s community-based health and wellness service provider focused on the LGBTQ community— partners with Trans Legal Advocates of Washington (TransLAW) to hold free monthly Name & Gender Change Clinics to assist LGBTQ folks in navigating the name and gender change process. Learn more here on Whitman Walker’s website. 

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Gender Identity, Pronouns, and Salutation

AU recognizes that gender identity is a person's internal, deeply held sense of their gender. It is at the discretion of the individual to identify and/or share their gender identity on their own terms.

How Do I Designate My Pronouns and Gender Identity?

Pronouns and gender identity can also be designated in the same self-service portal of Eagle Service as a chosen name. There will be a list of pronoun options and gender identities to choose from. However, if you do not use pronouns, you are welcome to select having your chosen first name be your pronouns.

Pronoun options in Eagle Service:

  • She/her/hers

  • They/them/theirs

  • He/him/his

  • E/Ey/EM/Eir/Eirs

  • Xe/xem/xyrs

  • Ze-zie/hir/hirs

  • Hy/Hym/Hys

  • Use my name as a pronoun

Do I Need to Designate My Pronouns and My Gender Identity?

No. Students do not need to designate their pronouns and/or gender identity if they would not like to. Systems at AU where those data points show up will appear blank. 

Who Can See My Pronouns and Gender Identity?

Like chosen names, your pronouns will display across many campus information systems, so, faculty, staff, and fellow students will be able to see and refer to you by them. Gender identity will only show up in staff and faculty-facing systems under your profile information. Additionally, parents who have proxy access to their student’s myAU portal and records will be able to see your pronouns and gender identity if they go into the Profile tab.

However, there are some systems where your pronouns will not display, and faculty/staff may not be aware of your pronouns without asking you. An example of this are emails sent directly to staff members and offices. We are working to train faculty/staff on reading email signatures or asking directly prior to assuming pronouns.

How Do I Change or Remove my Salutation?

Unlike a chosen name, gender identity, and pronouns, a salutation (i.e. Ms., Mx., Mr., Dr.) is not recorded in Colleague, so there is no option to edit it via the Eagle Service self-service portal. Students who wish to designate a salutation can indicate so on the Registrar’s Personal Data Change Form. Students may also ask that no salutation be used for them. Please note that Personal Data Change Form asks for identification. This is only to verify changes are being requested by the account holder. Any identification used to verify this change does not need to reflect a student's chosen name. 

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Faculty and Staff Resources

Creating an inclusive and welcoming environment where students, faculty, staff, and alumni are values and supported is important to the mission of American University. Part of being committed to an inclusive and welcoming environment is addressing students by their chosen name and pronouns/prefix.

Learn more about how to support our students on our dedicated Faculty and Staff Resources Page.

Diploma and Graduation Ceremonies

Students can now use a chosen first name on their diplomas, in the digital commencement program, and read aloud during commencement activities if submitted prior to the due date.

Can I use my chosen first name on my diploma (and throughout commencement) instead of my legal name?

Yes, when applying to graduate, you will have the opportunity to type out your desired diploma name exactly how you want it in the Diploma Name field of the application. You are permitted to use either your chosen first name or your legal first name as the first name on your diploma. However, please note that for many international students, a diploma is often used as a document to verify proof of graduation for employers. Therefore, we strongly recommend that international students use their legal first name as their Diploma Name.

As part of the proofing process of the commencement program, and later on proofing diploma orders, you may be contacted to correct discrepancies between your requested diploma name and your record. We recommend updating a chosen first name in the EagleService self-service portal prior to applying to graduate.

I have already applied to graduate, and then I updated my name elsewhere in the system, do I need to do anything more?

Yes, the Diploma Name field on the graduation application is static and does not change alongside changes elsewhere in AU’s systems. However, before the posted deadline, you may return to your graduation application and open it back up just as you did when you applied and update the diploma name as needed to reflect changes elsewhere.

Is there a deadline to have all name changes in or name issues resolved prior to commencement?

Yes, due to the lead time required for production and publication of the commencement-related documents, there is a cutoff prior to each ceremony where application and name changes after that time cannot be guaranteed to be reflected. For more information on those deadlines, please visit AU’s commencement site

I’m an international student. I know I should not use my chosen first name on my diploma, but is there a way for my chosen name to be in the graduation bulletin and read aloud at the ceremony?

Yes, we strongly recommend that international students use their legal name in the Diploma Name field on the graduation application. However, you can email graduation_services@american.edu and request your chosen name appear on the graduation bulletin before the stated deadline on AU’s commencement site. Students can also record their chosen name on NameCoach to be read aloud during the ceremony.