LGBTQ+ Inclusion at Cornell
Trans Inclusion at Cornell
Cornell University is committed to creating a safe and respectful campus for all members of our community including those of all gender identities. The following information provides general guidelines for specific areas of campus life related to gender identity & gender expression. You can also find resources linked here from other great providers of transgender care and education. The LGBT Resource Center thanks the students, staff, and faculty who have contributed to the development of these procedures and content displayed on this page. If you know of updates or other information that should be added to this page, please contact the LGBT Resource Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cornell University’s official non-discrimination policy includes the protection of "sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression."
Gender Inclusive Pronoun Usage
Please check out our quick guide on "how-to" utilize Gender Inclusive Pronouns.
On-Campus Gender Friendly Restrooms
Restroom/Facilities Use GuidelinesIn keeping with the University’s policy of nondiscrimination and the commitment to inclusion, the University allows students, staff, faculty, and visitors to use the restroom or facility that corresponds to their gender identity*. In addition, the University maintains a number of universal restrooms across campus to address restroom facility access not necessarily related to gender identity, such as access for parents with children and for other attendants/caregivers. These facilities are all-gender, accessible spaces, which may include amenities for families such as baby changing stations.*Gender identity refers to an individual’s internal sense of gender. A person’s gender identity may be different from or the same as the person’s sex assigned at birth
Trans Inclusive Housing Policy
Cornell is committed to accommodating transgender students in on-campus housing. Gender-inclusive housing is a policy that affords Cornell students the option to live on campus with whomever they choose, regardless of biological sex, gender, or gender identity. Learn more about Gender-Inclusive Housing. Learn about other housing options.
Preferred and/or Chosen Name and Gender Change Policies
Preferred and/or Chosen Name
- Cornell's student information system currently allows a student to use two names: primary name and preferred name.
- Primary name (legal name) is used for all official university business including certification of enrollment or degree, diploma, official transcript, Cornell ID card, email and written communication. This name initially comes from the admissions application. A student can view their primary name by logging into Student Essentials.
- To update or change your Primary Name (legal name) on your student record, US citizens and permanent residents, must provide a passport, birth certificate or court-issued document (such as a marriage or divorce certificate.) A state issued driver’s license is not an acceptable form of proof for a name change. Download the Name Change Form, fill it out and bring it to the Office of the University Registrar in B-07 Day Hall with the appropriate documentation.
- The preferred (first) name is used on faculty class lists with pictures. Students may change their preferred name at any time by logging into Student Essentials.
- More information on primary and preferred name.
- Students must provide “official documentation” to change their gender marker. A note from a doctor indicating someone’s preferred gender seems to suffice. We recommend working with Gannett Health Services and their team to make the changes. Learn more about Trans related care at Cornell Health.
E-Mail Display Name
- Change your e-mail display name here. FYI for those users using CMail: While we are working toward a change that would adjust one's e-mail display name after changing it in Student Essentials, we are still determining a technological fix. In the meantime, if you set a display name in Google+, this overrides the Email Display Name, so you can use this to set up a chosen name or otherwise control how your name displays in CMail.
- Your NetID can be changed only after you have submitted your legal name change request to the University Registrar and they have processed your request. Learn more about NetID changes. Please note, the sooner you can change your NetID the better. Once it begins to be used, it is a bit more challenging to make a change.
Blackboard Name Change
Blackboard is a Course Management System used by Cornell. Once you have an account:
- Log into Blackboard
- The upper right-hand corner of Blackboard will display your name as it is currently listed in the Cornell system. You will want to click on your name
- Click "Settings" tab and then the "Personal Information" tab
- Click "Edit Personal Information"
- Enter your chosen identification in the required fields
- Click "Submit" to save
Student ID Cards
- Information on Student ID’s can be found on the registrar’s site.
- For students who wish to have a new card with their preferred name, the Registrar will provide one replacement card free of charge if they surrender their current card.
Other Official Records
- For official student record changes, modifications are made by submitting a name change form.
- For International students on a Visa, your name must reflect the name that appears on your Visa. Contact the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) at email@example.com or (607) 255-5243 for assistance with updating your name.
- Cornell students, faculty, and staff may edit their settings in the Cornell directory in Who I Am and/or Workday.
Classroom Issues: Name and Pronoun Concerns
If you don’t feel comfortable talking directly to your professors, you can set a preferred name with Student Essentials as noted above and disclose your pronouns with them on the first day (until you can have your gender marker changed). If you would like to be sure your professors refer to you correctly on the first day and you feel comfortable being in touch with them directly, you can email them ahead of time explaining your situation. Something to consider: In large lecture classes, you most likely won’t be addressed by your professors and your name and pronouns will therefore not come up. However, you may be interacting much more closely with your Teaching Assistants (TAs) so it may be important to reach out to them. Please note, this section was developed by a student member of the Cornell community and provides a helpful statement for connecting with your faculty.
What might you say to a professor?
Below is a generic email template:
- Dear [professor’s name], I am enrolled in your class this semester and would like to make a request. I am a transgender individual and prefer the name  and  pronouns. Would it be possible for you to share this information with any TAs I will be working with as well? Thank you! [Your Name]
Faculty and Staff
Change Legal Name or Preferred Name in Workday
1) Click on the Personal Data icon and then click either Change Legal Name or Preferred Name, as applicable.
2) When changing your Legal Name, please take note:
- Your Legal Name must match exactly how your name is listed on your Social Security card.
- Once you submit the change, it will route to your local Human Resources representative who will ask for supporting documentation. Cornell faculty and staff must submit a copy of your social security card reflecting your new name to the local HR representative or bring your social security card to Records at 337 Pine Tree Rd., East Hill Plaza. Other forms of identification will not be accepted.
3) When changing your Preferred Name, please take note:
- Workday will always list your Legal Name.
- Other employees will be able to use the search option to find you by your Preferred Name, if given.
- Select Preferred Name from the Change menu. De-select the Use Legal Name as Preferred Name box and enter the changes in the fields as needed. Your preferred name will show in Workday in the All About Me section, Personal Information worklet, View Name.
4) Important: Once you are finished, remember to click Submit, otherwise your will not take effect.
Make sure your name is the way you like it in the Office 365 email and calendar system. By default, the Office 365 email and calendar system uses your legal first, middle, and last name. If you would rather use a nickname or a name that is different from your legal name, please visit the Cornell University Registrar's site.
Your NetID can be changed only after you have submitted your name change request to Human Resources and they have processed your request.
An employee must go to their local HR person to change their gender marker. No documentation is necessary.
Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation fields in Workday
View instructions for gender identity and sexual orientation fields in Workday. For other questions related to LGBT issues, contact the Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity at firstname.lastname@example.org or the LGBT Resource Center at email@example.com. Questions related about how to make updates in Workday can be directed to the help desk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
General Information related to the Legal Name Change Process and Gender Marker Changes on Identity Documents
The LGBT Resource Center at Cornell provides resources on the legal name change process in our county, as well as the process for changing other identity documents with name and gender marker (driver's license, passport, birth certificate, etc). Resources for students changing their name or identity documents in other states are also available.
The LGBT Center at Ithaca College also partnered with Out for Health, Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes LGBT Health & Wellness initiative, to create an awesome new booklet that has information on every process for changing your name and gender marker on important identity documents. To learn more about the policies and procedures, please visit Know-How Booklet and Forms.
On-Campus Health Services
Cornell Health provides confidential primary-care medical services, counseling and physiological services to all Cornell students.
The University’s CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services Center) counselors and therapists are also highly skilled and knowledgeable in serving transgender students and come recommended from the LGBT Resource Center. In addition to our campus counselors and therapists at CAPS, there are also a number of knowledgeable, transgender affirmative therapists locally. Ask CAPS or the LGBT Resource Center for information about referrals.
Faculty and Staff
The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program provides confidential counseling and consultation services to Cornell Employees.
Transgender Health Insurance Plans
Student Health Plan
Cornell's Student Health (SHP) is a comprehensive plan designed to support the health and well-being of Cornell students (and their partners) of all identities. Aetna Student Health is the provider of the Cornell SHP.
Hormonal and surgical services to support the process of gender identity confirmation are covered by SHP in accordance with Aetna's Clinical Policy Bulletin 0615. (Search "transgender" in the SHP Member's Guide). For specific information, review the Aetna Clinical Policy Bulletin: Gender Reassignment Surgery.
NOTE: At the top of this bulletin you will read: "Most Aetna plans exclude coverage of sex change surgery (gender reassignment surgery, transgender surgery) or any treatment of gender identity disorders. Please check benefit plan descriptions." The Cornell Student Health Plan is not one of those plans that excludes coverage.
Faculty and Staff Plans
Endowed health plans include hormone therapy and certain medical procedures related to gender identity confirmation procedures. The Aetna Clinical Policy Bulletin #0615 guides the medically necessary treatment protocol; treatments that are considered cosmetic in nature are not covered.
The Empire Health Plan – a New York state-supported plan used by the contract college faculty and staff – does not offer gender confirmation surgery and several other therapeutic treatments. Benefit Services does not anticipate an early adoption of these therapies in the Empire Health Plan.
Off-Campus Health Services
Even if you aren't a student (or if you want to use off-campus health services as a student), the Ithaca community has a number of great resources for transgender health.
Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes
Located in downtown Ithaca, Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes has hormone therapy and preventive health services for transgender people. This is not a campus service, but a service provided in the local community. There is a fee for this service but if finances are a concern these can be discussed before one's first appointment. A person may become a new patient if they are seeking transgender related health care for the first time — or, if they are already being seen by a medical provider in their home community or their previous town that is providing transgender related health services to them, they may transfer their care and their records to this office so that they have a local provider here. You can reach them at (607) 273-1513 to request an appointment or request additional information.
The Planned Parenthood website also includes an awesome new booklet that has information on every process for changing your name and information as a transgender person!
Voice and Communication Modification Program
One of the only programs like it in the country, the Voice and Communication Modification Program at Ithaca College focuses on developing voice, articulation, non-verbal communication, language, voice-related quality of life, and self-perception. It's open to both male to female and female to male transgender people. Community members have to pay a nominal fee and must sign up in advance to be a part of this group.
Information and Brochure about the Voice and Communication Modification Program
Transgender Support Group
Cornell's LGBT Center, Ithaca College's LGBT Center, and Out for Health jointly support a transgender support group for people in the Ithaca area. You can find more information here or by contacting Cornell's LGBT Center at email@example.com.
Offers telephone or in-office consultation regarding questions of rights, disputes, alleged violation of anti-discrimination laws which provide protection in the areas of employment, housing, credit, public accommodation, and public, non-sectarian educational institutions.
No student is expected to navigate this process on their own. Anyone seeking resources can first make contact with the LGBT Resource Center for support through the appropriate steps. The LGBT Resource Center thanks the LGBT Center at Ithaca College for sharing resources in creating the structure of this page.
Gender Inclusive Pronouns
There are two sets of commonly used gender-neutral pronouns:
sie, hir, hir, hirs, hirselfzie, zir, zir, zirs, zirself
|So instead of...||You may use...||Which is pronounced...|
like "sir" with a "z"
like "sirs" with a "z"
like "sir-self" with a "z"
Note: It is often also acceptable to use the third person plural (they, them, their, themselves) instead of the third-person singular (he/she, his/hers, him/her, himself/herself) when referring to someone who has not expressed a clear pronoun choice.
Common Questions on Gender Inclusive Pronoun Usage
Some people don’t feel like traditional gender pronouns (she/her, he/him) fit their gender identities. Transgender, genderqueer, and other gender-nonconforming people may choose different pronouns for themselves. The following tips are a starting point for using pronouns respectfully.
How do I know which pronouns to use?
If the person you’re referring to is a stranger or brief acquaintance (like a server, cashier, fellow bus patron, etc), you may not need to know. If the person is a classmate, student, or coworker, for example, it is best to ask. Try:
- “What pronouns do you use?”
- “How would you like me to refer to you?”
- “How would you like to be addressed?”
- “My name is Tou and my pronouns are he and him. What about you?”
How often do pronouns change?
Remember that people may change their pronouns without changing their name, appearance, or gender identity. Try making pronouns an optional part of introductions or check-ins at meetings or in class.
What if I make a mistake?
Most people appreciate a quick apology and correction at the time of the mistake. Try:
- “Her books are—I’m sorry, hir books are over there.”
By correcting yourself, you’re modeling respectful pronoun use for others in the conversation.
If you only realize the mistake later, a brief apology can help. Try:
- “I’m sorry I used the wrong pronoun earlier.
- I’ll be more careful next time.”
When should I correct others?
Some people may not want a lot of public attention to their pronouns, while others will appreciate you standing up for them. If someone uses the wrong pronoun for a person who isn’t present, try a brief correction:
- “I think Sam uses she and her pronouns. And yes, I’m going to her house later too!”
It can be tough to remember pronouns at first. The best solution is to practice! Correct pronoun use is an easy step toward showing respect for people of every gender.
What might this look like in other languages?
Check out the links below for more information regarding Gender Inclusive Pronoun usage in other languages.
Nonbinary.org: Gender neutral languageLong and comprehensive wiki-style list of ten languages with pronoun options
Multilingual Pronouns listList of thirty-six languages and some pronoun options- some more detailed than others.
Blog by Non-binary French people (in French, no longer updated but has archive)
Non-binary pronouns in Icelandic (in English)
Non-binary Gender in Japan: link list (in English)This has terms and narratives; unclear how much about pronouns