Chosen Name Policy FAQDiversity, Equity, and Inclusion
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Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. As such, we ask that all community members appreciate and celebrate differences in others and contribute to a safe and inclusive environment where everyone feels valued. An essential aspect of fostering an inclusive workplace and learning environment is using inclusive language that supports all members of the MCPHS community. Providing opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to express their identity supports MCPHS’s core values of diversity, inclusion, respect, and authenticity, and our strategic priorities for student, faculty, and staff success. The university will display gender-inclusive language in systems that allow for that form of identification.
Frequently Asked Questions
MCPHS recognizes that faculty, staff, and students may use a Chosen Name that is other than their Legal Name to identify themselves (as such capitalized items are defined below). Unless otherwise prohibited by law, policy, or business needs, MCPHS acknowledges that a Chosen Name must be used whenever possible during MCPHS business and education. MCPHS will use an individual’s Chosen Name whenever possible so long as the Chosen Name meets the requirements of this policy and the name is not used for an improper purpose such as misrepresentation, avoiding a legal obligation, and is not vulgar or derogatory.
A chosen name is the use of a first, middle and/or last name that differs from a person’s legal name. There are many reasons why someone would use a chosen name, such as a reflection of gender identity, as a nickname, or as a Westernized or Americanized name.
- Office 365 (including email)
- ID Badges
- RAVE Emergency Notification System
- Student Advising Platform
- Diploma, if requested
- Student Success Hub (Salesforce)
- Raiser’s Edge
- Student Financial Aid System
- Regulatory Filings and Reporting
- National Student Clearinghouse (Department of Education enrollment reporting)
- Financial Aid / Student Financial Services (SFS)
- Human Resources / Payroll Reporting (e.g., veterans reporting, EEOC)
- Registrar’s Office Records (e.g., official transcript)
- Business Office (e.g., payments/billing, SFS, Financial Aid)
- Enrollment Inquires and Verifications
- Health, Insurance, and Medical Documents and Records
- Immigration Documents and Records
- Employment Inquiries and Verifications
- Clinical Sites
- Human Resources and Payroll Records and Systems (e.g., reports, W-2's, ADP WorkforceNow)
- Other systems and/or reports that require legal name (e.g., Castlebranch, various OnColl reports)
A Legal Name is a name that appears on legal documents such as an individual’s Passport, Driver’s License, Birth and/or Marriage Certificate, or U.S. Social Security card. Where required by law, the University will use a Legal Name. This may include but is not limited to, financial aid purposes, business office, official transcripts, employment, documentation related to immigration, and/or federal, state, or local reporting agencies.
Legal documentation and official identification are required and must be submitted before changes to your Legal Name can be processed. See the Registrar’s website (for students) or the Payroll website (for employees) formore information.
In the state of Massachusetts, if you are over 18 years old, you must file a case to change your name in the Probate and Family Court in the county where you live. You must file the following: Petition to Change Name of Adult (CJP 27) A certified copy of your birth certificate (long-form). Additional information is available at the State of Massachusetts website (Mass. Gov).
In the state of New Hampshire, an adult who wishes, for good cause shown, to change his/her name must present a Petition to that effect, to the Probate Court in the county of the Petitioner's residence. Proof of identity should be submitted along with the Petition. Additional information is available at the New Hampshire Judicial Branch website.
If you reside in a state other than Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or outside the United States, please review your state or country’s requirements to change your legal name.
Calling a person by their chosen name shows respect. Using a person’s chosen name contributes to MCPHS’s goal of providing an empowering, safe and nondiscriminatory educational and work environment. A name is an extremely important part of a person’s identity. Using the wrong name can cause a person to recall a time and experience when they couldn’t express who they really are. Most names and pronouns are gendered. Using a chosen name that may match a person’s identity/expression prevents that person from being the subject of questions.
Tell the student or colleague you are happy to call them by their chosen name and write it down. Also share with them that they could submit a request for their chosen name.
Apologize for the mistake and move forward. Harping on a mistake can focus unwanted attention on the person who was just called by the wrong name. Don’t say, “I’ll never get that name/pronoun right.” This suggests that using the person’s chosen name is burdensome, and you won’t commit to honoring their identity. Instead, just apologize briefly and move on.
Be respectful of privacy, especially around topics directly involving gender. If a personal question is necessary, ask permission to ask it and wait for permission to be granted before asking something that delves into a person's private life. If you wouldn’t want to be asked a particular question, assume that the person doesn’t want to be asked that question either, and don’t ask it.
Consider rephrasing the question so that it is less personal. For example, in a course titled, the Psychology of Human Sexuality, don’t ask, “Why did you take this course?” Instead say, “What are some reasons a person might enroll in this course?”
Don’t make assumptions about gender identity or expression. Instead, understand that for some students and colleagues, gender identity or expression does not match their physical appearance or sex assigned at birth.
Use terms like “cisgender” instead of “normal.” Saying “normal” implies that anything else is not normal and is weird, strange, or freaky.
Don’t say, “What is your real name?”, “Is that a chosen or a real name?”, “Why don’t you use your real name?” or “How did you come up with Charlie?” Instead, say, “Thank you for telling me. I will call you ‘Charlie’.”
Gender identity and gender expression are protected under state and federal laws, including Title IX and the MCPHS’ Protection from Discrimination and Harassment and the Protection from Sexual Harassment policies.
Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has stated that Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination encompasses gender identity and gender expression. Everyone must be treated in accordance with their gender identity for all purposes.
If someone at MCPHS verbally or physically assaults you because of your gender, sexually assaults you, refuses to use your chosen name and/or correct pronouns, shares your confidential legal name and/or gender-related information without your consent, or gossips about your gender, you may file a complaint with the MCPHS’ Title IX Coordinator, Dawn Ballou.