Transgender man wins battle to get name changed on university diploma


Justus Eisfeld won the right to get a new bul, a master’s degree diploma, Parool reported last Wednesday. Eisfeld had undergone a sex change, which required a name change, but the University of Amsterdam refused to issue a new diploma to reflect this new reality.

Minister for Education, Culture and Science Marja van Bijsterveld (one of only three women in the cabinet) has decreed that the university’s official stance, which stated that it is illegal to issue a new diploma, is incorrect. The University of Amsterdam has responded that it is now “very happy” to issue Justus Eisfeld a new document.

An added complication may be that it is generally difficult in civil law countries (i.e. non-Anglophone countries) to have one’s name changed at all. How does this work for our native English speaking readers? If you change your name from John Smith to Autocar Bumblebee III (as you all do!), does that mean you get to rewrite the paper trail?

(Photo by Hildo Krop, some rights reserved)


  1. TK says:

    In the U.S. you can do it through a court order. You have to complete a background check including fingerprinting and the court has to approve it. All agencies must then comply with the order. I imagine a private university could challenge that, but all publicly funded universities would have to have to comply and update accordingly.

  2. Petra says:

    A friend did this recently (UK); he changed his name as part of transition. I think if you are changing your name for non-transition purposes you probably don’t, but if you are then you may be able to. Either way the university wasn’t aware of the legislation as they wrote to him saying ‘we don’t reissue certificates’, and then changed their minds after he wrote back saying that they were legally required to do so.

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