Supporting Trans Scholars


Changing Names on Publications  


The TransEdu Scotland research found that trans and non-binary scholars could face significant difficulties in changing their name on previously published work. When applying for new posts or for funding, this can put scholars in the impossible position of either forgoing / not disclosing their publciation history or outing themselves as trans to their prospective employers or funders.


Our research found that trans scholars who made a request to change their name on an e-publication (e.g. online journal article) were very much at the mercy of the response and viewpoints of individual editors, journals and publishers. Some trans scholars faced difficulties and, in some cases, outright refusals and unpleasant correspondence from journal editors. These scholars were faced with challenging this alone, and their senior colleagues were sometimes unwilling or unable to assist because the editors held significant clout or power in their given field.


While there’s no one easy ‘fix’ for this, there are a number of actions that institutions, libraries and colleagues can take to support trans scholars seeking to change their name on publications. This might include:

  • Meeting with the individual to discuss and provide guidance on contracts and options moving forward; 

  • Assist in the communication with editors, journals and publishers; 

  • Take up correspondence should the editors / journal / publisher be unwilling or unable to fulfil the request, or when the expertise of a professional librarian is required;

  • The library and institution should acknowledge this potential issue and signpost to a named contact on their webpages, so trans researchers know who to contact if they are facing difficulties with this process.


Another way to address this issue  which is admittedly a more substantial body of work – is to ask journals and publishers what their policies are for name changes in the event of trans identity or transition. In our experience, this again can vary and is something that editors or publishers may not have considered before. It is important to communicate how and why it is very important for a trans person to have their correct name on publications. There are legal responsibilities to consider too, in terms of the GRA 2004 and GDPR. It can be a huge amount for an individual trans scholar to navigate alone, and so any support the library, colleagues and the university can provide would be hugely beneficial.


Teaching and Learning Environments


It is also important to consider the specific challenges that trans and non-binary scholars may face when teaching, lecturing and delivering seminars. Our research found that trans people - particularly those who are visibly trans or gender diverse and those who are non-binary - could face significant difficulties in the teaching and learning environment. These difficulties included the reactions and  behaviour of students, and the impact of gender dysphoria. This caused significant anxiety and distress, and some trans scholars avoided roles with teaching responsibilities altogether.