FIU Implements Chosen First Name Policy

Jesse Fraga/Staff Writer

Everyone has a name they choose to be known by, it may be one of the most fundamental aspects attached to an individual’s identity.

Before, the only way to change your name at FIU was to go through a legal name change process by filing a petition in court. Yesterday, the FIU Division of Academic and Student Affairs implemented a way for students and faculty to submit their chosen name and gender pronouns, along with their legal name to be used and respected throughout University-related systems.

A chosen name is a name one chooses to identify with. Gender pronouns are words used to refer to an individual, oftentimes attached to one’s gender identity.

Moon Medina, FIU senior and International Relations major, adjusted their chosen name and pronouns, to align with their identity, located on their PantherSoft profile.

The need for the Chosen First Name Policy was brought to attention in 2018 when a few FIU students expressed their difficulties with the legal name change process.

The policy outlines that one’s chosen name and pronouns will appear on systems including Canvas and PantherSoft. This allows it to be noted on class rosters prior to the start of a course and may be changed anytime. However, one’s legal name must still be stated on official University records, including the Panther One Card, FIU email address, transcripts and diplomas.

One of the key organizers of the policy is Anthony DeSantis, Assistant Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, and Director of Multicultural Programs and Services.

He points out the policy may help not only transgender, nonbinary or international students, but also anyone who simply chooses to go by a name other than their legal name.

“My name may be Anthony, but maybe I like to go by Tony. I don’t, but there’s one thing people identify with, and that’s their name.”

While DeSantis identifies as a cisgender man, or someone who identifies with their gender assigned at birth, a name is relevant to all people, no matter the identity.

After over a year of research and organizing, Erica Jayne Friedman, Associate Director of LGBTQ Initiatives, formed an inclusive language guide to educate and support concerns regarding affirming language at FIU. They also created a training for faculty and staff to learn how to apply the new policy in their daily work.

“This video covers basics about FIU values, what the policy includes and does not include, practical information on how to ask for or use a person’s chosen name and pronouns, as well as important background on why this policy is so important,” said Friedman.

Moon Medina, senior and International Relations major, is one of over 50 students, faculty and staff who assisted in developing this policy. They identify as nonbinary and use they/them/theirs pronouns.

“Too often I have to remind professors and create an uncomfortable, potentially dangerous situation when asking to be called my chosen name,” said Medina.

For many transgender and nonbinary students, including Medina, their safety and security may be at stake when misgendered or misnamed. According to GLSEN, 75% of transgender and nonbinary students feel discriminated against and unsafe at school.

Mercury Luna Neon, junior and International Business major, played a role in organizing the list of pronoun options available to choose from with this policy. Mercury identifies as agender, not identifying with one particular gender, and uses hu/hume/humes pronouns.

While hu supports the policy, hu said, “I feel that if people really need to show their legal name for whatever reason, a license or ID should count. The Panther One Card is the only part of us we get to claim.”

While the Panther One Card is one of several other official documents that will not display one’s chosen name, the policy outlines that the university will make an effort to update University-related systems where needed.

Students may submit their chosen name and pronouns by visiting

Faculty and staff may submit their chosen name and pronouns by visiting

Faculty and staff may request the Chosen Name and Gender Pronoun Use training located under “MPAS Programs on Demand” at

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