Transgender and Non-Binary at Penn State
The Pennsylvania State University is committed to creating a safe and respectful campus for all members of our community including those of all gender identities and expressions. 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.
No student is expected to navigate this process on their own. Anyone seeking resources can make contact with the LGBTQA Student Resource Center for support through the appropriate steps.
If you know of updates or other information that should be added to this page, please contact the LGBTQA Student Resource Center.
- Non-Discrimination Policy
“The University is committed to equal access to programs, facilities, admission and employment for all persons. It is the policy of the University to maintain an environment free of harassment and free of discrimination against any person because of age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or political ideas. Discriminatory conduct and harassment, as well as sexual misconduct and relationship violence, violates the dignity of individuals, impedes the realization of the University’s educational mission, and will not be tolerated. Gender-based and sexual harassment, including sexual violence, are forms of gender discrimination in that they deny or limit an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from University programs or activities.”
- Preferred and/or Chosen Name and Gender Designation Policies: Students, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni
Preferred and/or Chosen Name
“The Pennsylvania State University recognizes the need or preference for members of the University community to refer to themselves by a first name other than their legal first name. As long as the use of this name is not intended for the purposes of avoiding legal obligations or for misrepresentation, the University acknowledges that a ‘preferred name’ can be used where possible in the course of University business and education.
In the instances where a member of the University community utilizes a preferred name in various University information systems, it should be understood that for University business, it will still be necessary that the legal name be used wherever the legal name is required by University business or legal need. This may, but is not limited to, include financial, medical, and law enforcement documents, transcripts, diplomas, W-4 forms, I-9 forms, payroll documents, Visa/immigration documents, personnel files, employment applications and related documents, background check documents, and insurance documents.” (Policy AD84)
“The Pennsylvania State University recognizes the need or preference for members of the University community to self-assert a Gender other than their Legal Gender or their Gender at the time of birth (sometimes called ‘Birth Gender’). As long as the use of this Gender assertion is not intended for the purposes of avoiding legal obligations or for misrepresentation, the University acknowledges that a ‘Gender Identity’ can be used where possible in the course of University business and education.
In the instances where a member of the University community uses a Gender Identity in various University information systems, it should be understood that for University business, it will still be necessary that the legal Gender be used wherever the legal Gender is required by University business or legal need. This may include but is not limited to financial, medical, and law enforcement documents, transcripts, diplomas, W-4 forms, I-9 forms, payroll documents, Visa/immigration documents, personnel files, employment applications and related documents, background check documents, and insurance documents.” (Policy AD84)
What’s the Process
In order to simplify compliance with policies and procedures related to the management of person identity information under Penn State Administrative Policy AD95, Penn State Identity Services (IdS) and the Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) coordinated an initiative to establish the Penn State Person Biographical (Bio) Record. The Person Bio Record is a shared set of data elements related to person identity whose definitions are collectively understood and adhered to, created and maintained under shared policies and procedures.
Information about procedures related to an employee’s Legal Name, Preferred Name, Gender Designation, or related to withholding directory information, is available through the Penn State Person Biographical (Bio) Record website. A preferred name designation is not a legal name change. If an employee’s name has been legally changed, Policy HR66, Change of Legal Name of an Employee, applies. Members of the Penn State Employee community requesting use of a preferred name for reasons related to gender transition, or those who have a safety concern should contact the Affirmative Action Office, which will provide liaison to relevant information systems offices when needed. Employees should visit Worklion for more information.
Information about procedures related to a student’s Legal Name, Preferred Name, Gender Designation, or related to withholding directory information, is available through the Penn State Person Biographical (Bio) Record website. Members of the Penn State Student community requesting use of a preferred name for reasons related to gender transition, or those who have a safety concern should contact the LGBTQA Student Resource or Gender Equity Center, who will provide liaison to the relevant information system offices when needed.
The LGBTQA Student Resource Center and/or Gender Equity Center will work with the student to facilitate system changes. Please feel free to reach out to Brian Patchcoski (firstname.lastname@example.org), Director of the LGBTQA Student Resource Center for more information.
Alumni Association members may update their personal information through the “Update Your Info” link on the Alumni Association website, by email, or by phone. Detailed information may be found at the Alumni Association website.
- Legal Name Change Information: Students, Faculty, and Staff
- For official student record/legal name changes, modifications are made by submitting a name change form with the University Registrar.
- For International students on a Visa, your name must reflect the name that appears on your Visa. Contact the Global Programs Office for more information.
- Employee-related legal name change information can be found on the Penn State Human Resources website and by visiting Worklion.
Faculty and Staff
To change Legal Name or Preferred Name in Worklion:
- Click on the Personal Information icon and then click either Legal Name or Preferred Name in the Change column, as applicable.
- 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.
- 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.
- Penn State ID Cards
Cardholders may obtain a replacement card by visiting their campus ID-issuing office with proper identification. An updated photo will be taken each time a new card is issued. There is no charge for replacing non-functioning id+ cards that exhibit normal wear and tear. Cardholders will be charged the currently-approved replacement fee for lost, stolen, or damaged id+ cards.
If an individual's name or status changes (e.g., from Employee to Retiree or from Student to Faculty/Staff) a new id+ card may be requested. There is no charge for the updated id+ card if the previous id+ card is given in exchange at the time of issuance. Valid identification must be presented when requesting a name change.
To learn more about ID Card Policies, please visit: Policy AD21
- Changing your Penn State Email Address (alias)
The alias allows you to create a different address that others may use to send email and will default to the value in the userid field. In other words, if your userid is xyz123, and you choose the alias "xxx", then mail sent to email@example.com will work exactly the same as mail sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note the following information:
- Changing the alias does not change your Penn State Access Account user ID.
- Changing the alias does not replace your Penn State Access Account user ID which is required for logging in and checking email, using LionPath and/or using Canvas.
- Changing your email address to an alias is not the same as forwarding your email to another email address.
- Other Relevant Changes to Systems of Record: Students, Faculty, and Staff
Penn State students, faculty, and staff may edit other settings in the Penn State directory in Information Technology Services (ITS) and/or Worklion. ITS displays your directory information. You can add, edit, or delete information by visiting ITS.
If you wish to change information that you are unable to edit in work.psu.edu, go to LionPath.
Faculty and Staff
If you wish to change information that you are unable to edit in ITS, check with your Office of Human Resources representative.
All information that you choose to include in your directory entry is publicly displayed and available to everyone on the Internet. Please exercise caution when providing information about yourself. For more information about Penn State Directory Services and the directory information contained within, please see Penn State Identity Services.
- Finding Support: Legal Name Change Process and Gender Marker Changes on ID Documents
The LGBTQA Student Resource Center provides resources on the legal name change process in Centre 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.
Student Legal Services
Student Legal Services offers an array of legal assistance to Penn State University Park students, including name and gender marker change, and planning documents such as a power of attorney, living will/health care power, or last will and testament. Whether they can provide referrals, consultation, or representation differs depending on the parties and type of issue. If you're not sure if they can help, feel free to reach out and ask. Even when their ability to help is limited by a conflict of interest or because the matter is outside their areas of expertise, they often can identify other resources. To access their services, see their website for drop-in hours, or fill out the intake form to request an appointment.
To review their name change guide, please visit the Student Legal Services information page and search for Name Change Document.
- Classroom Issues: Name and Pronoun Concerns
If you do not feel comfortable talking directly to your professors, you can set a preferred name with the LGBTQA Student Resource Center or the Gender Equity Center 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 will not 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.
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]
- Facilities and Housing
Trans/Non-Binary Inclusive Housing Policy & Options
Housing and Food Services strives to provide a safe, inclusive, comfortable, and supportive living environment for all students residing on campus. They offer the option of gender-neutral housing for students who, because of gender identity or gender expression, prefer this option. This allows students who identify as transgender and gender non-binary the ability to choose a roommate of any gender. Learn more about gender-neutral housing.
To discuss your interest and options available, please contact a staff members:
- Jennifer Garvin, Director Ancillary Services 814-865-7543
- Mark Rameker, Senior Director Residence Life 814-863-1710
- Brian Patchcoski, Director, LGBTQA Student Resource Center 814-863-1248
Special Living Option (SLO)
The Ally House is a Special Living Option located in West Housing Area that provides an open, safe, and inclusive environment for students. The Ally House is a collaboration between Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Ally (LGBTQA) Student Resource Center and the Sexuality and Gender Studies minor offered by the College of Liberal Arts. Ally House fosters a community dedicated to knowledge and understanding of sexuality and gender issues. Student Programs and academic opportunities support these goals. Any student interested in residing in this special living option may indicate Ally House on the HFS Contract as a preference in the "Special Living Option" section.
Future Penn State Students (Incoming First-Year Students)
For any student interested in a gender inclusive room assignment, our staff will work with you in a personal and confidential manner to discuss your options available. It is important to contact us early in the process so that we may offer the widest range of housing options. There is no guarantee that a particular space will be available.
Housing space a student may be assigned to include:
- single or double room with private bath
- single or double room with a gender neutral bathroom in close proximity (individual, private bathrooms shared by residents on the floor - similar to a bathroom in a home)
- single or double room with attached semi-private bathroom shared with another single or double room
Current Penn State Students
Upper-class students may request Open Housing (assignment to rooms with no regard to roommate gender) in any of the housing options offered on campus. To be considered for assignment, a group of students must have accepted the same type of HFS Contract. All students must review and agree to the Gender Neutral Housing Agreement form. The completed form should be submitted to the Assignment Office, who will confirm whether the a room assignment is available to assign the students.
On-Campus All Gender Restrooms & Locker Rooms
Restroom/Facilities Use Guidelines
In 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
All Gender Restrooms and Locker Rooms
“The University is committed to equal access to programs, facilities, admission and employment for all persons. It is the policy of the University to maintain an environment free of harassment and free of discrimination against any person because of age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or political ideas. Discriminatory conduct and harassment, as well as sexual misconduct and relationship violence, violates the dignity of individuals, impedes the realization of the University’s educational mission, and will not be tolerated. Gender-based and sexual harassment, including sexual violence, are forms of gender discrimination in that they deny or limit an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from University programs or activities.” (Policy AD85)
Design and Construction Standards
The Office of the Physical Plant has several standards for the design and construction of new buildings and renovations to existing physical facilities. Below is the standard for “Single User Toilet Rooms.”
“All buildings shall have Single User toilet rooms in the following locations:
- On the main floor level.
- On every floor level other than the main level, except where a Single User toilet room exists on the floor above and the floor below.
- Where required by code.
Every project shall consider the location of existing Single User toilet rooms, and shall include the construction of additional toilet rooms to meet the requirements of the preceding paragraph. No exception is given to any project, except with written approval from the Manager of Design Services, Office of Physical Plant.
All single user toilet rooms shall meet the requirements of the current adopted International Building Code and Americans with Disabilities Act Standards.”
To review more about Penn State Standards and/or signage, please visit:
The standards for Single User Toilet Rooms (section 01 0500.05)
For information on all gender restroom signage, download the Gender Neutral Restrooms .pdf.
- On-Campus Health Services: Students, Faculty, and Staff
University Health Services
University Health Services provides confidential primary-care medical services to all Penn State students.
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
CAPS counselors and therapists are highly skilled and knowledgeable in serving transgender students and come recommended from the LGBTQA Student 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 LGBTQA Student Resource Center for information about referrals.
Faculty and Staff
Employee Assistance Program
Provides confidential counseling and consultation services to Penn State Employees.
- Health Insurance Plans: Student, Faculty, and Staff
The Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) is offered through First Student College Student Health Insurance, underwritten by United Healthcare Student Resources.
The student insurance currently covers Gender Dysphoria. Students that may have more detailed questions or concerns can contact an expert in Gender Dysphoria benefits with United Healthcare at any time. You may contact United by email or phone at 866-780-4768.
Faculty and Staff have the option to enroll in an Aetna PPO or PPO Savings Health Insurance Plan. Always be sure to check with Aetna and Penn Human Resources Benefits Office for changes and/or additions to the policy before seeking care.
Gender Reassignment Surgery/Transgender Services are covered at 90 percent after deductible (in-network) and 70 percent after deductible (out of network) for Faculty/Staff PPO and PPO Savings and Technical Service PPO and PPO Savings Plans.
The Aetna Clinical Policy Bulletin #0615 guides the medically necessary treatment protocol; treatments that are considered cosmetic in nature are not covered.
Health Insurance Documents
For more information about coverage or to have these materials provided in another format, please contact the Penn State Human Resources Benefits Office.
- Other Campus and Community Support
Even if you are not a student (or if you want to use off-campus health services as a student), the Penn State and State College community has a number of great resources for trans and non-binary individuals.
Voice and Communication Modification Program
Speech and Hearing Clinic
Constance Kossan M.A., SLP-CCC-L
Instructor of Communication Sciences and Disorders,
Clinical Supervisor - Penn State Speech and Hearing Clinic
or download, complete and return the Adult History Information form found at:
Trans & Non-Binary Clothing Exchange
The Penn State Clothing Transit is a community effort started by 3rd Way Collective and housed in the LGBTQA Student Resource Center. It is an opportunity for members of the queer and trans community to exchange clothing and accessories, including bags, hats, and jewelry, free of cost. The intention of Clothing Transit is to provide trans and non-binary students with the freedom to comfortably find clothing that reflects their gender expression without the discomfort of shopping in a traditional clothing store.
Stop by the LGBTQA Student Resource Center to drop off your gently-used donations or 24 Ritenour Building during open hours check it out for yourself!
Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Equity (CLGBTQE)
Created in 1991, the Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Equity (CLGBTQE) is one of three advisory commissions reporting to the President of Penn State. Commission members include faculty, staff, administrators, undergraduate and graduate students, and technical service employees from all Penn State campuses.
LGBTQA Mentorship Program
The mentorship program allows graduate students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer to mentor an LGBTQ undergraduate student at Penn State.
Through the program, mentors are able to offer mentees psychological and emotional support, assistance setting goals and choosing a career path, guidance through sexual and gender identity development all while encouraging health and wellness through campus and community engagement.
For more information or to become a mentor or mentee, visit the Mentorship Programs page.
LGBTQA Discussion Groups
The purpose of the LGBTQA discussion groups is to provide a safe space for students to express their thoughts, perspectives, and opinions on issues, knowledge, and trends in the LGBTQA community. These groups offer students the opportunity to explore their identities and interests as they relate to their LGBTQA identity(ies). Each group has its own set of broad discussion topics that challenge students to expand their knowledge and develop their identities relative to their place in the world.
Specifically, Beyond the Binary provides a safer space for students who do not identify as cisgender to talk about topics surrounding gender identity and expression.
For more information visit the Discussion Groups page.
Centre LGBTQA Support Network
The mission of Centre LGBTQA Support Network is to bring the community together through LGBTQA education and activities in the Centre region.
- Reporting Discrimination/Harassment Information
Bias, discrimination or harassment
- Contact the Affirmative Action Office at (814) 863-0471
- Visit the Report Bias website
- Acts of intolerance by students may be reported to the Office of Student Conduct at (814) 863-0342
Visit our Report an Incident page for more information.
Sexual harassment and other forms of sexual misconduct*
To make a report to the University
- Visit the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response for more information on how to make a report.
To file a complaint outside of the University
- Contact the Office for Civil Rights (Philadelphia Office) by email or phone at (215) 656-8541
- Contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Philadelphia District Office) at (800) 669-4000
- Contact the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (Harrisburg Regional Office) at (717) 787-9780
*Additional information regarding information and resources available in relation to incidents of sexual harassment and/or misconduct (including a campus-specific list of victim support services and confidential reporting options) can be found on our Victim and Survivor Support and Advocacy page.
- Relevant Penn State Policies