SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation Wednesday authored by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and co-sponsored by Equality California and Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis to give students at California public colleges — especially transgender and nonbinary students — the ability to have the names that reflect their gender identities 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.
“A diploma represents years of hard work,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “Students should be able to celebrate their academic achievements without fear of being deadnamed. Deadnaming a student on a diploma can put up barriers to future employment and out a person in an unsafe situation. I’m grateful the Governor signed this bill to ensure we are protecting and lifting up all of our students in California.”
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.
“Thank you, Governor Newsom, for signing AB 245 and demonstrating that California values and affirms its trans and gender nonconforming students,” said Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis. “Thanks to Assemblymember Chiu’s leadership, California is taking an important step towards protecting and supporting trans and gender nonconforming students in California’s public higher education institutions by ensuring that every student receives a diploma that accurately reflects their chosen name.”
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.
“Trans and nonbinary students already face tremendous challenges — being deadnamed on college documents should not be one of them,” said Equality California Legislative Director Tami A. Martin. “We are grateful to Governor Newsom for signing AB 245 and empowering transgender and gender nonconforming people to have their name and gender accurately reflected on their college records. With this victory, California continues to lead the way in affirming our trans and gender nonconforming community.”
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 law 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 will need one form of legal identification, including, but not limited to, a driver’s license, state identification card, birth certificate, passport, social security card, or court order indicating a name or gender change.
AB 245 builds off of AB 711, also authored by Assemblymember Chiu and sponsored by Equality California, which was 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.
AB 245 will take effect on January 1, 2022.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org