Rue Monroe on their preferred name and the importance of pronouns

November 14-20 is Transgender Awareness Week. Being transgender is not just identifying with the opposite gender. Transgender is an umbrella term for people who don’t identify or conform to traditional notions of being male or female. Some people are genderfluid. They can identify strongly as male one day, a female the next or a combination of both. Other people may identify as agender. Agender means without gender. For agender people, this means they identify as having no gender. Kent State sophomore Rue Monroe identifies as bigender and has recently gotten their Flashcard and Flashline account changed to their preferred name.

Legal Name: Nicole

Preferred name: Rue

Pronouns: They, them, theirs

Major: Theatre studies with a concentration in design

Minor: Textiles

Age: 25

Hometown: Youngstown, Ohio

Relationship status: Taken

Her Campus:  What does bigender mean?

Rue Monroe:  Bigender is a non-binary gender identity (gender identity that is not exclusively male or female). It can be a multitude of things depending on the person who uses it to describe themselves. It can be someone who identifies as two genders or double genders, someone who identifies as both a man and a woman or a woman and a non-binary gender. This term can also be used as someone who experiences both masculine and feminine traits as part of their identity. Typically, bigender people experience exactly two gender identities, either simultaneously or varying between the two.

HC: When did you identify as bigender?

RM:  For me, bigender means experiencing both genders at the same time. When I was younger my father would buy me boys’ clothes, but I would have a feminine hair style. That aesthetic made me comfortable. As I got older, I enjoyed feminine clothes and a masculine hair cut. I always liked displaying as both masculine and feminine because I never felt 100 percent one way or the other. I didn’t know there was a term for this, and I had no idea gender is fluid. When I discovered the term "bigender" last year it was like everything about myself was coming together.

HC: What made you decide to go by Rue instead of Nicole?

RM: When I was in high school, my friends and I all decided to have nicknames. I chose the name Meru because it was the name of a girl I really admired in a video game. When people started calling me Meru, it felt like that was my name. Meru eventually became shortened by people in my life to Rue, and i’ve been called that ever since. I never had any emotional attachment to the name Nicole. I feel like Nicole is who I was raised as, but Rue is who I was always meant to be.

HC: What was the process like of having your name changed on Flashline?

RM: I was told in early August the preferred name change was going to be live (on Flashline) this fall. So, I had been anticipating it for sometime now. The process is relatively simple and the approval process is instant. I was able to get a new Flashcard for free with my preferred name on it. My Flashline, Blackboard and everything Kent-related is changed. When I saw it went live, I cried. It was so surreal. As a trans student, nothing makes me happier than this sort of validation.

HC: How do you think this policy will help students?

RM:  This will help many LGBT students feel welcome. Many trans students don’t always feel welcome to be themselves at home, but with this new policy, it’s a sure way for these students’ identities to be acknowledged in a respectful way.

HC: Do you plan on legally changing your name to Rue?

RM:  Eventually, yes. The process is very long and expensive. In the meantime, this name change is a nice little pregame to what my life will be like once I can afford it. 

HC: Why is it important to use someone’s preferred pronouns?

RM: Without doing so, you are assuming someone’s gender identity and that’s rude. If you identified as a woman, you wouldn’t want someone calling you he/him/his pronouns all day.

HC: How should someone ask another person what their pronouns are?

RM:  It’s as easy as asking someone their name. When I meet someone new I say “Hello, my name is Rue and i use they/them pronouns.” That way, it’s easy and simple. I also put my name and pronouns in my email signature too.

For students seeking a different name on their Flashcard or on Blackboard, they can go to their Flashline account and go under "Resources." From there, choose "Request and Authorizations." A button that shows preferred name requests will show up. Once students click the button, a step by step process will guide them in order to finalize the process.

Students can also visit the University Registrar's website learn more about Preferred Name registration.