BROCKPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — Governor Kathy Hochul is enacting a new policy for SUNY schools, regarding the use of a chosen name and pronouns.
The purpose of the policy is to ensure students’ identities are reflected properly and consistently throughout the SUNY system.
By 2023, campuses must ensure a student’s chosen name appears on diplomas, campus profiles, and other documents.
By the end of this year, campuses must ensure a student can choose ‘x’ as gender on documents and identification, similar to a recent update for NYS licenses.
Riley Johnson (she/they), is a senior at SUNY Brockport, who recently came out as a non-binary woman, gender fluid, and queer.
Johnson says college comes with its normal stressors. But it’s even more challenging — when you’re figuring out who you are and seeking acceptance from others.
“I’d say it happened maybe three years ago, I had a little click in my brain,” Johnson said. “I never really felt comfortable identifying as a woman, I didn’t realize there was another option.”
For Johnson, this is a category with more flexibility and fulfillment.
“It’s been good, and not so good.”
The good — most of Johnson’s peers and colleagues are accepting.
The not-so-good; it takes a while for some to adjust, and for others — a while to accept.
“It’s learning to have those uncomfortable conversations,” said Johnson.
Gov. Hochul says the new SUNY policy aims to make it easier for students like Johnson.
Johnson may be graduating soon — but is happy to see change on the horizon.
And changes for their peers, too: While Johnson never had a name change — they know some people who have.
“I’m so excited about it…it gives students an opportunity to be recognized and respected, and faculty and staff an opportunity, so it’s not some uncomfortable conversation for students who aren’t ready for that yet,” said Johnson.
Johnson describes it as, something more legitimized than an email signature, or icebreaker in class.