Date of Award

Fall 10-30-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Education degree


Policy Studies for the Department

First Advisor

Galletta, Anne M.

Second Advisor

Katie Clonan-Roy

Third Advisor

Karie Coffman


As the visibility of transgender (trans) college students has increased, college policies have also increased for these students to help them persist. One such policy is a preferred name policy that allows students to change their names on non-legal campus records to their chosen name without a legal name change. This narrative research study explored the lived experiences of trans students at an urban public university who used a recently implemented preferred name policy. The results revealed that identity and persistence were shaped by both external factors such as campus support and navigation strategies and internal questions around sense of belonging, mattering, validation, and engagement. All five participants made recommendations to the policy that included updating campus technology, more training for staff and faculty, and better marketing of the policy. This was the first study done that focused solely on a preferred name policy, and it gave a voice to trans college students. Their stories are important for us to preserve because trans college students are often left out of higher education research that focuses on persistence and retention. Persistence to graduation for this population of college students is imperative because of the financial barriers trans individuals often face compared to cisgender individuals.