Transgender students say school got their names wrong in senior yearbook

Jun 2, 2022, 5:30 AM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 4:30 pm

RIVERTON, Utah — School officials apologized for an “honest mistake” Wednesday after transgender students said their high school got their names wrong in their senior yearbook.

At the close of a sometimes-difficult high school experience, this was supposed to be the year Elliott James and other transgender seniors would be remembered by their preferred names rather than what they call “dead names.”

“Because it is the name of someone who does not exist anymore or maybe never has, we call them dead names,” said James, a graduating senior at Riverton High School. “Not a name we feel we have any ownership over. It’s not something we will ever feel is right for us.”

But when James went to pick up the yearbook Wednesday and flipped to his school picture, he saw his “dead name” staring back up.

“Which is obviously really frustrating. It has not been a fun day,” James said.

“I didn’t think the yearbook would be a problem because I felt like we had done what we needed to make sure that everything was listed correctly,” said Carrine, James’ mother.

James has been going by Elliott since February 2021. Carinne says that was the name listed on attendance rolls and Skyward’s online student portal. Before that, James went by a different preferred name.

“It’s been a difficult year, and so we’ve just been proud of Elliott to get to this point and graduating and overcoming all these struggles,” Carrine said.

The Riverton Highschool yearbook with the “lost names” crossed out.

Sandy Riesgraf with the Jordan School District told KSL TV the school has for some time given families the ability to change names with the student and parent’s permission.

After speaking to the Riverton High School principal, Riesgraf said that printing James’ legal name was “unintentional” and “an honest mistake.” She apologized on the school’s behalf.

The principal also reached out to Carinne on the phone to apologize. She also “expressed her love and support for the queer and trans students at the school, which I appreciate,” Carinne said.

Another transgender senior at Riverton named Miles Adair told KSL TV the school got their preferred name right in last year’s yearbook. Then this year, they filled out a required notarized document to make the change official with the school. But they say this year the school got their name wrong.

James pointed out a few others in the yearbook whose preferred names were also left out in this year’s yearbook. It’s unclear whether they changed their names with the school prior to the printing of the yearbooks.

“It was a pretty big sting. Felt like a punch in the face for sure,” James said, adding that the school did get other transgender students’ names right, including everyone who was quoted on other pages in the yearbook.

Carinne knows what’s done is done. She doesn’t expect the school to reprint yearbooks. But she said, “we just want to make sure this doesn’t happen for future students.”

James has already blotted out the “dead names” of trans students in the yearbook and written in their preferred names. But, he said, “I can’t fix anybody else’s copy.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Summer travel is about to take flight. That means a whole lot of points and miles being used and ea...

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage

Thieves are going after your frequent flier mileage: how you can safeguard those miles and points

Summer travel is about to take flight. That means a whole lot of points and miles being used and earned, and cybercriminals know it.

5 hours ago

One of the tennis courts that used to be available to the public but now closed due to repeated van...

Debbie Worthen

Some Salt Lake high school facilities closed to the public due to irresponsible dog owners

The Granite School District says irresponsible dog owners are forcing the closure of some high school tennis courts that used to be open to the public.

5 hours ago

A fire at an egg farm in Lewiston has resulted in a response from as far as Franklin, Idaho. (Brian...

Dan Rascon

Egg farm catches fire in Lewiston, prompting a fire response from as far as Franklin, Idaho

A four-alarm fire at the Oakdell Egg Farm in Lewiston left scores of chickens dead on Tuesday.

6 hours ago

Winnie Quilter's dad's 1982 BMW 320I that was set a blaze during Tuesday morning fires....

Garna Mejia

Four fires near downtown Salt Lake City prompts an arson investigation

Fire investigators are looking for someone suspected of starting several fires in the downtown area early Tuesday morning.

7 hours ago


Lindsay Aerts

Utah State Board of Education clarifies districts are in charge of bathroom law implementation

The Utah State Board of Education is clarifying that it's up to school districts to decide how they implement a new bathroom law in schools that requires students to use the bathroom of their gender assigned at birth

8 hours ago

Inside of Utah State University's Autism Support Services: Education, Research, and Training....

Mike Anderson

Autism program at Utah State University is helping kids across the world

An overseas supermodel turned philanthropist is getting help from Utah State University to teach children with autism.

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Transgender students say school got their names wrong in senior yearbook