Preferred name use at UBC

What’s in a name? For most of us, our names are not something that we choose. Our names are often given to us by a family member and aside from nicknames, they are what we hear and are called by many times throughout our lives. Many of us take our names for granted and accept them as they are given to us. For many students, especially those who are trans and gender non-conforming, a name can matter a lot. Having to read and be called by a name that does not fit your gender identity or expression can be a painful reminder of who you are not. Some people may have different reasons for choosing to go by a preferred name, including some international students who may prefer to go by a Western name.

There are many public interactions that take place during your time at UBC where a student may not want to be recognized by their legal name. Attendance on the first day of class, at the bookstore or when buying lunch are some examples of when a student may be “outed” in public by a name they prefer not to go by that may not fit their gender identity or expression. Increasing accessibility to name changes for students accommodates their needs and lowers barriers especially for those who face discrimination. These incidences can put students at risk and increase stress. Further, they may not feel recognized by the university.

Here at the Equity & Inclusion office, Director Jude Tate and Equity Facilitator Rachael Sullivan have steadily been working with enrollment services, the registrar’s office, and IT on a proposal to change many of the university’s previous procedures around names. As of May 1, the preferred first name of a student can be used on their UBCcard. These changes recognize students with non-Western names and trans and gender non-conforming students whose legal first name may not match their gender identity or expression and preference to be known primarily by their preferred first name. This new practice supports UBC’s commitment to a respectful and inclusive campus community.

This is just a small step towards addressing some other gaps in the current system, and further proposals for changes in the IT system are underway including:

  • A student’s “Preferred Name” be displayed on FSC Class lists, the SISC banner, and used when addressing students in bulk email communication. In the absence of a “Preferred Name” in the SIS, the “Given Name” would be displayed.
  • Removal of the Male/Female sex marker from class lists. Removing this information will provide consistency in the case of a student who chooses a preferred name that does not match the sex marker indicated on the class list.

How do I update or add my preferred name?

To update or change your preferred name you can contact your Enrolment Services Professional (ESP) and request the update or change. They will confirm when the change has been made.  You must do this even if you have provided your preferred name when applying to UBC.

How do I update my UBCcard?

To update your UBCcard with your preferred name please follow the instructions below.

  1. Update your preferred name by contacting your ESP.
  2. Wait 48 hours for the change to appear on the system.
  3. Visit the UBC Access Desk and request a card renewal with your preferred name.

There is no charge to get a new UBCcard with your preferred name on the card.  For more information, go to UBC Access Desk

Implications of changing your preferred name

While UBC allows students to indicate their preferred first names without changing their legal names, it’s important to be aware of the implications of this change.

Learn more about changing your personal information.

If you have questions

Please contact your Enrolment Services Professional (ESP). ESPs are available to help all students.

Key partners in these changes include: Enrollment Services, Student Systems Management, UBC Bookstore – Access Desk, Student Information System, and the Equity & Inclusion Office.


Map for Gender Inclusive Washrooms on UBC Vancouver Campus