McGill, News

Queer McGill Deadnaming Dashboard highlights deadnaming and misgendering in McGill IT systems

Queer McGill—a service run by queer students for queer students, non-students in the Montreal area, and allies—started a Deadnaming Dashboard “to end automated deadnaming and misgendering […] last fall,” within IT systems such as Minerva, MyCourses, UPrint, and the Student Wellness Hub (SWH).

The Dashboard displays all McGill IT services that are currently misgendering and deadnaming students, as well as status updates regarding specific ways in which these online services are failing trans students—all of which currently read “not fixed.” Queer McGill invites students dealing with these issues to contact them for support when being misgendered by McGill IT systems.

The group explained that the university has long deadnamed and misgendered trans students, though McGill claims to have made progress. 

“Trans students continue to be dead-named and misgendered by automated IT systems from attendance sheets to departmental mailing lists. McGill’s Wellness Hub and housing department are aware of these problems but resist calls for change [….] These systems give staff unnecessary access to trans students’ deadnames, and some—like the Student Wellness Hub—have no documented process to make a change at all,” Queer McGill wrote to The Tribune.

In an email to The Tribune, McGill Media Relations Officer Frédérique Mazerolle reaffirmed McGill’s “efforts to challenge transphobia, biphobia, and homophobia and to foster a robust sense of belonging for all within our campus community, regardless of gender or sexual identity.” Mazerolle also noted that the Deputy Provost of Student Life and Learning Fabrice Labeau launched an Ad Hoc Committee on Preferred Names in February 2024, to address IT-specific deadnaming and misgendering issues.

“The goal of this committee is to investigate current areas where McGill IT systems are falling short compared to those outlined in the 2021 SSMU Report Preferred Name and Pronoun Use at McGill University, and track progress. Committee members include representatives from Enrolment Services, Student Services, IT Services, the Equity Office, Human Resources, and the SSMU,” Mazerolle wrote.

A McGill student who wished to be unnamed said that their efforts to have deadnaming issues fixed by McGill staff have gone unaddressed, leading to anxiety and apprehension about what in-class deadnaming could lead to. 

“Honestly, it’s devastating. I’ve spoken to multiple people, multiple times to sort out this issue and nothing has ever changed [….] One of my professors has offered to contact people on my behalf within McGill about this issue and has received no response. Each time it’s the first week of classes I’m terrified that my legal name will be called out instead of my preferred name. I also have to see my legal name every time I use teams, which is daily,” they said. 

Queer McGill Resource Coordinator Arwyn Regimbald also spoke to McGill residence staff, who continuously misgendered them whilst they were living in residence, describing this as “pervasive attacks on [their] dignity, self-worth, and ability to function.” 

“When I lived in student residence, the staff systematically deadnamed and misgendered me in nearly every interaction I had,” Regimbald said. “I repeatedly cautioned them; I asked them to stop; I involved McGill admin. There was one time where they started crossing off my (then) preferred name on parcels, and writing my deadname. One residence worker even told me I was committing a criminal offence by using a name that wasn’t legally mine.”

Queer McGill Administrative Coordinator Abe Berglas reported that McGill departmental heads often refuse to believe students when they report deadnaming, leading to students being unwillingly outed.

“When we come up with proof, they explain why the system works the way it does. But knowing that the transphobia is impersonal doesn’t protect us from being outed. I’ve never seen a group of people more defensive about being able to continue their transphobia. When potential new students ask me if McGill is accepting to queer students, I can’t say yes in good conscience,” Berglas said. Despite ongoing efforts made by Queer McGill, they wrote that “trans students continue to be dead-named and misgendered by automated IT systems from attendance sheets to departmental mailing lists,” and although “McGill’s Wellness Hub and housing department are aware of these problems, [they] resist calls for change.”

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