Lawrence University outed me more than a year ago, and ever since then, I have been dealing with the exhaustion, trauma and fatigue that comes with fighting against the institutional discrimination. The administration made me feel unwelcome, selfish and demanding when I fought to protect trans and nonbinary students from being forcibly outed.
As I think about graduation and my future after Lawrence more and more, I no longer want to be tied to my deadname, nor do I want to have to continuously worry about it. I’m ready to fully present myself to the world as Ezra Marker, which means I have to legally change my name.
In Minnesota, which is where I’m from, it costs $302 to legally change one’s name. There didn’t seem to be resources available for Minnesota residents, and the cost wasn’t inconsequential, so I applied to the discretionary funds available at Lawrence. In my application, I stated that I felt “Lawrence covering the cost of my legal name change would be a meaningful step toward a stronger commitment to supporting trans/nonbinary students, given the amount of trauma and exhaustion I [had] been put through due to being outed over a year ago.”
However, Lawrence had a different idea. Chris Card, who is the Vice President of Student Life and oversees the fund, made me aware of this stark disconnect.
On October 9th, my request was approved by VP Card, but the following week, we were on a phone-call together and he essentially told me that Lawrence wasn’t reimbursing me for having messed up by forcibly outing me. He emphasized he was merely acting as a student life person to a student, me, who was telling him that having my name changed would help with my stress; that this was an act of compassion and not an act of reparation. Although I am paraphrasing the conversation we had, this letter to the editor would not have been published unless the claims I made were successfully verified by The Lawrentian. I submitted a voice recording of our phone-call to The Lawrentian for them to verify that this was how the conversation occurred.
When VP Card told me Lawrence was covering my legal name change cost, I was ecstatic because I thought it was them finally recognizing the harm that they have done to me. However, I now realize that it was hush money, but Lawrence University, I will not be silent: you do not care about trans and nonbinary students, and this is evident throughout this battle I’ve been fighting for the bare minimum of respect from you. Respect my existence or expect resistance.