Respecting & affirming identities: the Chosen Name initiative

Sara and Fisher
On UN International Pronouns Day, we are proud to share our Chosen Name initiative.
Wednesday 18 October 2023

On UN International Pronouns Day, we are proud to share our Chosen Name initiative, an important step to create a safe and inclusive environment for all individuals at Victoria University (VU). 

Launched in September 2023, the initiative means staff and students can easily update their details, including chosen name, pronouns and gender identity, and see this reflected across university information systems. 

Using someone's name and their correct pronouns shows respect. A chosen name is a name that is different from a person’s legal given name or legal surname.  

There are many reasons why someone may use a chosen name including, but not limited to:  transgender and gender diverse identity, people from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds, those wishing to change their name for safety or privacy reasons, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who are Stolen Generations survivors and their descendants, or for any other personal or professional reason. 

“For many people in the transgender community, having people know and use correct and affirming pronouns is an important and a validating part of a person’s gender affirmation journey. By affirming a person’s gender, you can support them to feel seen, heard and welcome,” Sara Austin (she/her) Senior Coordinator Inclusion and Engagement explained.

To date, 364 students and 74 staff have updated their details to include their pronouns. 

These details are updated across enterprise-wide student and staff systems, including email, Office 365 suite, learning management and People and Culture systems. 

Phase two of the project (currently underway) will see the Chosen Name initiative extend to further applications across the student experience, including the student placement information systems so that students’ chosen names and pronouns are known on placement.  

There are some applications where legal names are required, for example unique student identifier (USI), tax file number details, government financial assistance, and transcripts.  

However, the project team are developing an additional document for testamur and graduations to be given to the student in addition to their transcript (with their legal name), which reflects the student’s chosen name.  

For Fisher Ayre (they/them), who works and studies at VU, the change is about putting inclusion policy into action. 

It means that you get to come into an educational setting, and you feel welcome, and you feel safe, and you feel respected. And that’s when people learn best.

For more information, see Chosen name, pronouns and gender.