An umbrella term used to describe all kinds of people who sit outside the gender binary or who’s gender identity is different from the sex assigned to them at birth. (Note that the term is not transgendered…it’s intentionally in the present tense, not the past tense. It’s a state of being.)


  • Transgender is a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender identity is a person’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or boy or girl.)
  • People in the transgender community may describe themselves using one (or more) of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, and non-binary. Always use the term used by the person.


  • Q: Looking for feedback on what other counselors do when a student is asking to be called by a different name/pronoun at school. Do you have them speak to their teachers themselves? We’ve had an increase in these requests – many say they do not want parents to know and many teachers are giving push back about it all. Just looking for feedback, especially when a student seems to be doing it for attention as opposed to really taking it as a serious decision. (we’ve also had students wanting to change names/pronouns multiple times). I want to handle this sensitively and appropriately!
  • Q: Can you tell me what your school does in regards to students requesting we use chosen pronouns, in this case they/them? What are legal obligations? Violation of Title IX?  I absolutely support it, but I’m trying to build a strong case to convince others.
  • Q: Has anyone had experience with transgender graduates and the name put on their diploma?  Do they have to have their birth name put on their diploma or can they choose their preferred name to be printed on it?
    • A: (From Michelle Clark, Indiana Department of Education): I spoke with our Staff Attorney at the department for some clarification:“The Department believes diplomas and transcripts should have the legal name of the student listed.  Diplomas and transcripts are used for job applications, college applications, FASFA, etc. and are associated with the social security number of the student.  If there has not been a legal name change, that could become an issue if a name, not associated with that social security number, is listed on those documents.  If there has not been a legal name change in court, the Department cannot change the name associated with the STN, therefore records at the state level would always be maintained by the students legal name.  Schools certainly have or should have local policies and procedures established to allow students to be called whatever name and/or pronoun that makes them feel the most comfortable.  Many schools allow for names to be listed in PowerSchool/Skyward that do not reflect their current legal name, which is entirely a local decision and schools can and should do this to accommodate children.  There are places on transcripts were schools can put notes specific to the child, therefore a school could decide to list the student’s name that is used for school purposes in the classroom in that section of the transcript.  That is entirely a local decision as well.”
  • Q: A former student has come to the school to request records with the intent to apply to college. However, they brought documentation stating they legally changed their name and sex. The former student has requested that we change their name and sex on their transcripts.  We were wondering if any school has dealt with a similar situation and how they went about addressing this request. Did you change the records to reflect their new information, or do you provide the transcripts as is and they are responsible for submitting the transcripts along with their new information that states they have changed their name and sex to their prospective institution?
    • A: (from Michelle Clarke, Indiana Department of Education): Many transgender students wish to amend their secondary educational records after graduation to ensure that anyone who requests those records (for example, college admissions offices or potential employers) see only the correct name and gender marker on their transcript.If the student has legally changed their name on their birth certificate, ethically we should consider amending the transgender students’ records. By not correcting a student’s gender marker/name on their school records, the school is essentially disclosing that student’s transgender status to anyone who sees their records, This has the potential to place the student in harm’s way; exposure of transgender status is directly linked to high rates of discrimination, harassment, and even violence.According to FERPA, Under federal law, any student who is 18 or older (in a post-secondary institution past HS) has the right to request that their school change their name and gender marker on their records if they feel they are incorrect, misleading, or violate their privacy. (34 C.F.R. § 99.7(a)(2)(ii)).Some great resources can be found here:
  • Name changes for transgender students – responses from Counselor Talk, January 2020
  • Q: I have a 7th grade female student who came to me and says she is transgender and wants to know if all the teachers can call her by a boy’s name that she has chosen for herself. I have never dealt with this before. Do any of your schools have policies for this type of thing?
    • A: We try to honor the student and call them by their preferred name. However, we remind them that when it comes to attendance, diplomas, and anything that requires their legal name, we must use their birth name.
    • A:
  • Transgender students at the elementary school level: Counselor Talk Gender Issue Responses
  • You should address a person who is transgender like you would treat anyone else: with respect, dignity, and kindness. But here are a few things to remember:
    • It is derogatory to use the terms “He-She,” “She-Male,” or “It”
    • It is derogatory to use the term “transgendered” (past tense); this is who they are, not what “happened” to them
    • If you are unsure of a person’s gender, nicely and sincerely ask them how they identify or what pronoun they’d prefer
  • Transgender students and restroom use (Counselor Talk, September 2017):
    • Our transgender student goes to the nurse’s clinic to use the restroom
    • Here is an additional resource that states, “You have the right to use restrooms and locker rooms that match your gender identity, and you can’t be forced to use separate facilitiesIf you feel safer or more comfortable using a private space, or if you’d like to use a separate space for a short period of time, you can request that—but your school can’t force you or pressure you into using a separate restroom or locker room if you don’t want to.”
    • Currently there is only one state has specified “bathroom legislation,” Texas. Their law was passed in July of this year and has not fully been implemented yet. Almost all states have attempted to pass a law but they have been struck down in either committee, on the floor, or overruled by state supreme/appeals court. Without a specific state law, the federal law is what is the prevailing rule and that is Title IX, therefore you will not see anything referring to specifically Indiana. Protections for transgender students “did not spring into existence because of the Obama guidance; rather, the Obama guidance codified existing protections provided by Title IX. As a result, schools around the country continue to have a legal obligation to protect these students’ rights, including equal access to facilities consistent with their gender identity, even following the guidance’s withdrawal” (1). Additionally, “Schools are still barred from discriminating against students based on sex under federal law. Henegar says that if a transgender student is being treated differently than their peers by school administration – such as being forced to use a single-user bathroom – that could constitute as discrimination” (2). The most direct Indiana reference I am aware of is Indiana stating they will following the ruling of the Ashton Whitaker case where the a unanimous ruling by a district court panel ruled in the favor of the student in the ninth district (3).



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