A petition submitted to WVU last week requested the University waive the cost of a diploma reprint for transgender or nonbinary alumni to list their preferred name.
The petition was created by WVU School of Law alum Robb Livingood, along with support of others in the trans+ community.
Beginning with a social media post on Facebook last month, Livingood brought up that for his two degrees, he would have to pay $150 for a reprint of his diplomas. The college charges $75 per diploma.
The post also addressed that people who are transgender and nonbinary often are paid less, making the cost of a diploma reprint more difficult to obtain for certain groups of people.
“I just noticed that $100 to $150 is kinda hard to turn up,” Livingood said. “That’s like a week or maybe even two weeks of groceries. As a lawyer, if it's hard for me to scrape up $150 as a chunk of change, what about somebody who just finished their undergrad?”
Livingood said that for himself, his degrees are his proudest achievements, and to others, having their preferred name on their diplomas is very important, not just for pride.
Documents that don’t match somebody’s preferred or presented name can cause delays when it comes to job searching or anything that requires a check on academics and identifying paperwork.
As for a legal name change for other documents unrelated to a diploma, that would be another $200 minimum in Monongalia County.
“It doesn’t feel good to be called a name that you’re not... It just instantly brings you down,” Livingood said.
Additionally, Livingood believes that domestic violence survivors should also be given a free reprint of their diplomas by WVU, saying that it can carry their abuser's surname or family name and may bring up bad memories.
"I am really pulling for WVU to reprint the degrees of domestic violence and intimate partner violence survivors for people who may have even been abused by their family or children, or abused by their romantic partners that they trusted,” Livingood said. “I'm just fighting for people who can experience trauma by the name that is printed on their diploma."