I am the secretary of a nonprofit group. We have a transgender person on our board who would like to use their new name (which isn't legally registered) on all documents. Is this acceptable or should I use their legally given name until the name has been legally changed? I know that the minutes of our meetings constitute a legal document. I'm concerned about the law in this matter.
I don’t think there is any clear legal requirement on this question. I would recommend that you use the name the person uses and wants to be called. Name changes are not unusual in our society. If a woman marries and wants to be called by her “married name,” even though it is not a “legally registered” name or a legally required name, most people don’t have any problem calling her what she wants to be called. If she doesn’t want to “change” her name, most people don’t have a problem calling her by her name before the marriage. If the couple wants to use a hyphenated name, no problem. If a woman gets divorced and wants to be called by her pre-marriage name, even if that is not a part of a divorce decree, most people have no problem going back to using the pre-marriage name. Name changes may take a little time to get used to, but most people accept and use the name the person uses.
Transgender issues often evoke a much greater emotional reaction than these marriage or divorce situations, but I think you ought to react the same way. Use the name the person wants you to use. As long as you use it consistently, your minutes will be fine and everyone will know who you are talking about. And your board colleague will feel significantly more accepted and respected.