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    This is not just about transgender folks (though they’re the ones most likely to suffer abuse if you don’t do it right). A lot of folks in the US use their middle name in preference to their first name. A system that allows your display name to be configured lets them use their middle name in preference. This is something that Active Directory / Exchange / Teams actually do very well. I have several colleagues who set the display name to match what they actually use in face-to-face interactions. The only folks who see their legal name are folks who need access to HR systems.

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      My dad only learned his mother’s legal first name when he was in his 30s. There is no necessary relationship between legal name, billing name, and display name. Legal name is for interactions with the government, and if someone is going to verify your identity by looking at your driver’s license or something. Most applications, unless they’re doing identity verification themselves, shouldn’t care about legal names at all; that’s for the government. Billing name could be a totally different person, because someone else might be paying for your service. Display name could be as you say a middle name, or a nickname, or a shortening of the first name, or a name of a different gender because changing one’s legal name is difficult or impossible, or the name could be different because the person is from India and they don’t all have the same first/last-distinction that we do so their legal name gets jumbled.

      Legal name, billing name, and display name, all need to be changeable, because they all really do change. It’s not even much of an edge case.

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      I am always baffled when systems do not allow for easy name changes. Even outside of the trans community it is super common in my country (and many others) that when people marry that one (yes, typically the woman, but that is not mandatory) changes their last name. This concept is older than any computer in existence and it should really not surprise anyone. Literally every system must be able to handle that. If you can handle that, why not change all the other information too? I don’t get it.

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        This concept is older than any computer in existence

        I love this phrasing

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          ha, thanks! I wanted to emphasize that this is so common and widely known that it should really surprise no one.

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        I’m cis, but I have a name that is considered female in a lot of cultures, while I identify, and am born, as male. I’m not able to legally change my name, but I do have a preferred display name which is different from my legal name. It hasn’t been a very big issue for me, since my legal name is not a deadname to me; I’m okay being addressed with it, it’s just confusing sometimes. But I can imagine that a trans person would not appreciate being addressed with their deadname.

        Recently, I’ve had an interesting problem the other way around; I had to order flight tickets through some web portal, where a user was provisioned for me from Active Directory (with correctly set DisplayName and my legal name set as first/last name). Except that they had pushed only my DisplayName, since the portal only had one name field, which made it impossible to get a flight ticket with my legal name on it.

        Every system that handles names that might be verified by government ID (such as with a flight ticket) should allow the user to enter both a DisplayName and a LegalName. Not just for trans people, but for everyone whose DisplayName doesn’t match their LegalName.

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          I’m cis, but I have a name that is considered female in a lot of cultures, while I identify, and am born, as male.

          Trans people 🤝 Italian men named Andrea

          Making pronouns more obvious to English speakers

          edit: I have heard those situations referred to as the “wallet name”, which is handy for referring to situations where it’s still correct but not preferred outside of the bare minimum legal contexts.

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          Missed opportunity to call this “Falsehoods programmers believe about gender”.

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            The “don’t ask for things you don’t need” is a good advice in so many contexts. If you’re not billing someone, you likely don’t even need their name in the first place. If you are, you very likely don’t need their gender. Each bit of information you hold is a liability in case you get hacked, so it’s great if you don’t have it at all.

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              From the perspective of being in business leadership, I also want to encourage you to approach your suppliers around this, particularly if one of you employees runs into issues due to this. Do it in private, with actionable feedback, in kind and how it improves their system.

              I had nothing but good experiences with this. All suppliers we approached with this have responded positively, been very upfront that they would like to make that change on a measured timeline and have fixed their systems within perfectly reasonable timelines (a couple of weeks).

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                I do admit it’s fun watching English start to magically grow “they” into a third-person-singular gender-neutral pronoun. It’s not even a terrible solution, for once!

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                  The wikipedia page for it (citing the Oxford English Dictionary) mentions it appearing as early as the 14th century. So to be fair, I’m not so sure we’re seeing it “start”!

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                    The ambiguity about cardinality is a bit annoying, but it’s no worse in that respect than “you”, so I think we can live with it.