By Megan Hopps
Sun Press Newspapers
Champlin transgender student Andrea has officially changed her name to reflect her identity.
On Feb. 1, Andrea’s family ventured to the Hennepin County Courthouse to update her name on her formal documents including her birth certificate, Social Security card and health insurance information. Eight-year-old Andrea changed her name from Andrew James to Andrea Jamie.
“It was sometime in November that I decided we’d go in for a name change for her,” said Andrea’s mother, Pam. “I just started pursuing how to do that — it’s a pretty standard process. You just go to the Minnesota Department of Health’s website and they have instructions that tell you what to do.”
Pam said she began to see changes in her daughter last summer.
“This is her third name,” Pam said. “We went with Drew her second grade year, which I kind of insisted on, seeing what was going on. I didn’t know for sure if this was going to be the result. It was when I really started pursuing this and figuring this stuff out that we decided to make the name change.”
But Andrea described her experience at the courthouse as somewhat disappointing. Pam said, everyone in attendance introduced themselves for the judge except for Andrea. When it came time for Andrea to use her name the judge said, “You must be Andrea.”
“That was the disappointing part,” Pam said.
Andrea said she just wanted to speak in the microphone and be able to say her own name.
Andrea decided she liked the name Andrea Jamie when her mother suggested it.
“In second grade when I’d come home from school I’d just switch into my girl clothes,” Andrea said. “I just didn’t want to suddenly come in [to school] as a girl because that would just be like ‘Whoa!’”
“You weren’t ready yet,” Pam said.
Andrea said her decision to enter third grade at Dayton Elementary as a girl became easier with the support of her friends. The name change has made things more seamless at school, Pam said. Previously, if Andrea had a substitute teacher, her name and picture would come up in the computer system and they’d call her Andrew without knowing that’s not what she goes by.
Another occasion that happened earlier this year, Pam said, happened when Andrea put a book on hold at the school library.
“What they do is they pull up the child’s name in the computer system and they write the student’s name on the book,” she said. “Well, they wrote Andrew. I can’t expect everyone to remember, but now they don’t have to because her name will come up in the system. He just made a mistake and that happens — mistakes are fine, we just have to correct them.”
After the official documents were printed, Pam said she took them to the school to have Andrea’s name corrected in the computer system.
“The secretary made a copy of it and it showed up the next day,” Pam said. “When I went to volunteer at the school the next day, her name came up and several staff members were very happy to see it corrected. Her school I.D. will have her new name on it; her yearbook picture will now be corrected. In the past, I’d have to intercept those things and make sure her name was used.”
Andrea was also pleased that people will now call her by her preferred name and that it clears up the mix-ups.
“It’s just nice to have a formal paper that says this is who she is,” Pam said. “This is her name that she’s chosen.”
Contact Megan Hopps at [email protected]