Five years ago, North Carolina enacted one of the nation's most notorious anti-trans laws, but now the state is making news for taking an important stand for transgender youth.
The state Department of Public Instruction alerted school districts last week that its PowerSchool student information system will now display a "preferred name" for students rather than a birth name. Trans students and allies have lobbied for the change for years, telling officials that deadnaming them on state reports, student report cards, and teacher grade books is emotionally damaging and risks outing youth.
Even though some conservatives call the change "social engineering," Craig White of the Asheville, N.C.-based Campaign for Southern Equality told The News & Observer of Raleigh, "There is no downside to this other than showing respect for students."
While most North Carolina school documents will reflect a student's chosen name, official state student transcripts will still list birth names, at least for now.
Since Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed North Carolina's notorious "bathroom bill" into law in 2016 — which forced trans people to use public restrooms (in government buildings) that conflict with their gender identity — and banned local jurisdictions from passing pro-LGBTQ+ laws, the state has evolved on queer rights. Now led by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, the state has worked to dismantle the bathroom bill, and several cities, including Hillsborough and Chapel Hill, have added antidiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ residents.