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Edmonton’s MacEwan University gives students option of ‘changing their identified gender’

File: Edmonton's MacEwan University. Michel Boyer, Global News

Students at Edmonton’s MacEwan University now have the option of having their gender changed in the post-secondary institution’s record-keeping systems even if the gender identity doesn’t match what’s on their birth certificate.

A statement posted to the university’s website on Monday said the policy would take effect immediately.

“Many people at MacEwan University identify themselves in a way that differs from their legal identity,” the statement said. “Up until now, however, the university’s systems have only kept legal names and gender on file. This has led to some frustration and confusion as class rosters, email address books and directories have identified people in a way that contradicts their preference.”

The university said staff and faculty will now also be able to use their preferred name in university systems if they have one.

READ MORE: Alberta to make changes to gender identification on government documents

Watch below: In November 2016, Quinn Ohler filed this report after Alberta’s Minister of Service introduced more than 80 changes to the Vital Statistics Act that would allow people who don’t identify as either male or female to put an X on government documents like marriage certificates.

Click to play video: 'Alberta to make changes to gender identification on government documents' Alberta to make changes to gender identification on government documents
Alberta to make changes to gender identification on government documents – Nov 8, 2016

“It came about as part of some initiatives we’re working on to support gender and sexual minorities, though it will benefit people who want to use a preferred name for other reasons as well,” Michelle Plouffe, vice-president, general counsel and compliance officer at MacEwan University, said in a statement.

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“We’re making changes that allow people to be who they are. As an institution, it’s a priority to support students in this way.”

The new policy will change how students are identified on the university’s blackboard system, myStudentSystem, class and grade rosters, library and university identification cards and GroupWise address book. Faculty members’ preferred names will now appear in class search results.

Preferred names can be anything from a middle name to a nickname to “something completely different from what appears on your legal identification.” However, students’ legal names will still be used on legal documentation like tax receipts, transcripts, university credentials, T4 slips or records of employment.

How students identify in terms of gender can be changed to one of three options: male, female or gender minority.

READ MORE: Alberta adds gender protection to human rights law

The university says it cannot provide more gender options right now because of logistical reasons.

“We’d prefer to have a blank space for people to fill in how they identify, but currently our system just doesn’t allow us to do that,” Plouffe said. “So our Gender and Sexual Minority Working Group landed on ‘gender minority’ as a recommendation because it was more inclusive and open than just male or female.”

Students wanting to update their names or genders are asked to go to the Office of the University Registrar website for instructions.

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“I think we’re getting the word out to our community that this is a safe and inclusive space, but we can’t stop here. We have to keep moving forward because this is what our students want and it’s what our university community wants.”

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