Dear Friends of California Lutheran University and All People of Earth:
I am a freshman student at California Lutheran University. I am transgender, but more importantly I am male, I am Toby, and I am a person. I am confident that I can call Cal Lutheran my home.
On April 26, I planned to attend the Honor Convocation. One person gave me a program at the door of Samuelson Chapel. I did a check to see my name on the list when I found a seat, not in the pews because the chapel was packed.
Filled with anxiety because of the amount of attendees, I looked to see my name under the Dean’s List for fall semester of 2015. My heart sank. I saw a different name other than Toby – “Gina” – some might call my “birth name.” After a brief quick reflection, I did not want to desanctify the holiness of the chapel and wanted to cope with my emotions, so I quickly walked away to gather my negative thoughts. At the time, I was angry. I asked myself, why did they do this to me?
I was sad because nobody cared enough that my “birth name” was written in the program, a “dead name” to be more appropriate. I wanted to run away from the chapel, initially, because I thought my name was going to be brought to the audience’s attention, either through people speaking or looking through the list of names in the Convocation program. I left because I could not bring myself to celebrate. I wanted to enjoy the festivities and see other students and friends being recognized. This was unacceptable. Instead of going to the Convocation, as I intended, I went to the Interfaith meeting in order to process this event.
I had changed my name in the Registrar’s Office during the spring semester of 2016. The legal process to change your name and gender in California is a long and difficult path, so I had to wait before I could change my name in the Registrar Office for the fall semester of 2015.
I would like to note I highly appreciate the Registrar Office because they have been very supportive during this time. They have apologized for what has happened. The Registrar Office is full of lovely individuals who treated me with respect. I ask that the Registrar be aware of people who change their name or gender, for any reason, and look at your own policy and procedures.
I thank the Interfaith Allies as sacred space for support for all.
I thank Campus Ministry for emphasizing the idea that “all matter” and using Samuelson Chapel for the greater good.
I thank the CLU PRIDE club for being a place for all gender identities and people, a place where my tears found solace.
I thank Student Counseling Services for being a safe and confidential space for support for all.
I thank the people who organized the Festival of Scholars and Honor Convocation honoring the academic work of students on campus.
I thank the Writing Center, a place for all writers, for perfecting this letter.
I thank The Echo staff for caring about the voices of all.
I thank the faculty of California Lutheran University for supporting their students.
The way I see it, the empirical issue of the possibly unintentional breach of my past-personal life is not the critical issue. The heart of the issue involves the idea that identity and names matter
I wish that people would be more careful when addressing someone by name, gender, identity, race, age, sex and any other identifiers that one person would value. I hope that Cal Lutheran will be able to learn from this incident because I do not want this to happen to anyone, especially to the LGBTQIA community.
I feel as though showing the world this letter is an act of faith and love to send a message of inclusivity across the Cal Lutheran campus and the world. I hope to inform all people about my own experiences. If you would like to talk to me about gender, sexuality, etc., please feel free to email me at [email protected]
Identity Matters. Name Matters. We Matter.
Freshman Psychology Major