Stop asking for legal & preferred name on job applications

Recruiters / hiring managers: When you meet someone for the first time, would you demand to see their papers before you will even speak to them?

Of course not. That would be rude. And weird. You would just ask them what their name is. 

So why do your job applications ask candidates to make the distinction between legal and preferred names?

From a transgender perspective, it forces candidates who haven’t undergone the lengthy and resource-intensive legal name change process to out themselves immediately or risk being accused of lying. 

For many in the transgender community, a legal name is the name given at birth which the bearer no longer relates to. When you refer to a transgender individual by their former name, it is invalidating and hurtful. Worse, it can subject them to discrimination, harassment or even violence.

More than 90% of transgender employees have experienced some form of workplace discrimination or harassment. Asking us to differentiate between our legal & preferred names so early in the process can feel invasive.

Additionally, cultural and racial identities are also targets for name discrimination, so this is an intersectional issue if your company wants to take their DEI efforts seriously.

When you reach the point of needing legal information for employment eligibility verification, you can have that conversation then. 

Until that point, my name is not a preference, it is simply my name.

Assuming you need the information for EEOC purposes, here are some easy changes you can make to have a more inclusive process:

  1. Ask for the applicant’s First Name and Last Name
  2. Ask applicants for pronouns
  3. List multiple options for gender (Man/Woman/Nonbinary at the very least)