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Preferred Name, Personal Pronoun & Gender Identity

Title: Preferred Name, Personal Pronoun & Gender Identity Policy
Effective Date: October 16, 2019
Responsible Office: Registrar
Last Updated: First Version

I. Scope

This policy applies to all students (graduate, undergraduate, non-degree seeking, and part-time) at William & Mary, including the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences.


The purpose of this policy is to allow students at William & Mary to use names other than their legal name to identify themselves, regardless of whether they have legally changed their name, and to identify their personal pronouns and gender identity. The university encourages self-expression and affirmation of identity.  

III. Policy
A. Uses of Preferred First Name or Full Legal Name

Students may use names other than their legal first name to identify themselves, regardless of whether they have legally changed their name. Preferred first names will be included in the following:

  • Class rosters (including Blackboard)
  • Grade rosters
  • Other databases and systems, when institutional and technical capabilities permit
The university is required to record a student’s legal name and sex on formal records to comply with federal law for transactions to include:
  • Paychecks
  • Financial aid
  • Medical documentation
  • Transcripts
  • Enrollment verifications
  • Admissions
  • Immigration documents (Reves Center)

Students also have the ability to identify their gender identity and/or personal pronoun.

B. Recording Preferred First Name, Personal Pronoun & Gender Identity

Preferred first names may be recorded in Banner by logging into Students who have questions about the steps required in Banner to change to their preferred name, gender identity, or personal pronoun may contact the Office of the University Registrar. 

C. Allowable Formats & University Discretion
The university allows students to identify a preferred first name, personal pronoun, and gender identity. The legal last name (surname) will remain unchanged and will be included with the preferred first name as provided in Section III-A above.   Preferred first names are limited to alphabetical characters, diacritical marks, and spaces. The preferred first name must be in an allowable format. Examples of allowable formats of the preferred first name include, but are not limited to:
  • A middle name instead of a first name
  • An abbreviated name (Rob instead of Robert)
  • First and middle initials (A.J. instead of Andrew John)
  • A name to which you are in the process of legally changing
  • A name that better represents your gender identity
  • An anglicized name

Students may not use a preferred first name for misrepresentation or for illegal purposes. William & Mary reserves the right to reject preferred name requests that are offensive, obscene, or that use derogatory language. Students are cautioned about using preferred names that could be considered self-aggrandizing or nonsensical.

Preferred name changes are limited to one per academic year. Exceptions to the policy (or to this limit) may be approved by the University Registrar.

IV. Authority & Interpretation

The Office of the University Registrar interprets this policy and has the authority to revise or eliminate any or all parts as necessary to meet the changing needs of the university with the approval of the University Provost.