Assemblymember Chiu Introduces Bill to Ensure Transgender and Nonbinary College Students’ Diplomas Reflect Identity

Legislation would prevent “deadnaming” on college diplomas

For immediate release:

Sacramento, CA—Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) announced a bill today to give students at California public colleges, especially transgender and nonbinary students, the ability to have their chosen names printed on their diplomas. Assembly Bill 245 will ensure diplomas do not “deadname” or call the graduate by the name they were assigned at birth rather than the name they use.

“Making sure college records reflect a student's name is a no-brainer,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “Transgender and nonbinary students face many challenges, and this simple policy will ensure they have one less barrier to overcome.”

Transgender and nonbinary Californians often face discrimination, violence, and barriers to employment. These existing barriers can be exacerbated by student records that do not reflect their name and gender.  

If a person's name does not match the name on a transcript or diploma, that can present real challenges when applying for graduate school or employment opportunities. It can also “out” individuals who may not wish to be outed as transgender or may not feel safe in their current situation to openly identify as transgender or nonbinary.

Many California colleges have taken steps to give students the opportunity to designate their affirmed name and gender in a variety of areas like student identification cards and school email accounts. However, those opportunities are not always extended to diplomas, and colleges across the state have vastly different processes for updating student records after graduation.

AB 245 will require public colleges to provide graduating students the option to have their chosen name printed on their college diploma. The bill will also standardize the process for updating records after a student graduates, clarifying which forms of legal identification are sufficient to update student records. In order to update records after graduation, a student would need one form of legal identification, including, but not limited to, a driver’s license, birth certificate, passport, social security card, or court order indicating a name or gender change. 

AB 245 builds off of AB 711, authored by Assemblymember Chiu and signed into law in 2019 by Governor Newsom. AB 711 required schools districts to update the diplomas and transcripts of former K-12 students, particularly for transgender and nonbinary students, to reflect their accurate names and gender markers.

Equality California is sponsoring AB 245.

“Deadnaming – or referring to someone by the name they were assigned at birth instead of the name they currently use – is a traumatic and unnecessary experience faced by far too many transgender and nonbinary Californians,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur. “That’s why we are proud to sponsor Assemblymember David Chiu’s legislation to affirm California college students’ correct name and gender on school documents. This small but important act will help ensure all of our students are treated with the dignity they deserve.”

AB 245 is expected to be heard in an Assembly policy committee this spring.