Transgender Student Struggles To Get FSU Registrar To Recognize Name Change
Riley Lynn Nairn recently changed their name of Matthew Douglass Nairn and has yet be recognized by Frostburg State University by their new identity due to lack of legal documentation.
Nairn is a sophomore at FSU, and is living as a non-operative gender person, commonly known as “gender-queer.” Gender-queer is when the person does not identify with masculinity or femininity or being male nor female. Many individuals who refer to themselves as being gender-queer believe themselves to be the following: both woman and man, transgender, or gender-fluid (identifying as being both male and female).
According to Maryland State Law, individuals that want to change his/her name must be a MD resident, sign a petition, state reasons for requested changes, and have a notice published in a local newspaper. The allowing of the name change is at the Courts discretion.
“A few years ago I discovered what the word transgender meant and I started realizing that may be me,” said Nairn, who prefers to go by the pronoun “they/them/their.”
“I have never conformed to being a binary man or a binary woman. At the beginning of the semester, I decided to change my name to Riley. It’s a gender-ambiguous name. If you read my name on paper, people will not know if I am a man or woman, and that’s what I wanted for my name. I don’t want people to force a gender on me.”
“I like the name Riley. I had a best friend in High School who name is Riley. This is homage to him. This is also my new name and I would like to be addressed as such.”
Nairn explained that, “most states have a common law that allows heterosexual couples who have been living together over an extensive period to be recognized as married. The state of Maryland also has a common law name change that allows individuals to change their name after an unspecified time of using the name.”
In Maryland, under the common law name change, transgender individuals pursuing a different name are only required to have used the name consistently for an unspecified amount of time.
“My professors and friends are now addressing me as Riley or Riley Lynn. I would write on my papers “Riley Matthew,” but now I write Riley Nairn. I haven’t explained to my professors why my name is now changed and that haven’t asked,” Nairn explained.
Nairn said, “I created an affidavit that I had notarized by Frostburg State Police Department. Since then, I have been going by the name of Riley. I applied to The University of Maryland and Towson University and got accepted to both universities. I informed both schools of my new name, and neither of them have an issue with my common law name change.”
Nairn contacted Gail Hutton, representative of FSU’s registrar office, who responded in an email explaining FSU’s requirements. “After further review on your change of name, the documentation you submitted is not acceptable with our policy. In order for us to update your name, we need a copy of a legal court document. I can, however, add your updated name in PAWS under preferred name. Because the primary name is used on class lists & grade rosters, you will then need to inform your instructors that you prefer the name Riley.”
According to FSU’s name change policy, students who change their names will still be recognized in the student record system by their original name. In addition, FSU only accepts legal court documentation, making Riley’s affidavit null and void. Nairn’s affidavit has been rejected by FSU. Nairn has yet to get court documents due to commuting and expense issues.
“Nobody has an issue with my name change with the exception of Frostburg State University. An affidavit was accepted everywhere except here. I do not understand the issue; however, I will be transferring in the fall to a University that completely recognizes me as Riley Lynn Douglass.”