NEW YORK – Mastercard announced on Monday, June 17, a new card initiative called True NameTM. This initiative will allow customers to choose their preferred names to appear on the front of their cards. The initiative was unveiled in a panel discussion with the New York City Commission on Human Rights.
It may seem like a minor development because it is easy to underestimate how important and how critical presenting your affirming name is for many people.
The initiative is focused on supporting the LGBTQIA+ community particularly persons who are trans or non-binary community. Mastercard cites the need to specifically support the trans and non-binary community given the findings of the U.S. Transgender Survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality.
The report shows, “Nearly one-third (32%) of respondents who have shown an ID with a name or gender that did not match their gender presentation were verbally harassed, denied benefits or service, asked to leave, or assaulted.” (p. 9).
Moreover, the report underscores another common issue:
The cost of changing ID documents was one of the main barriers respondents faced, with 35% of those who have not changed their legal name and 32% of those who have not updated the gender on their IDs reporting that it was because they could not afford it.
The True NameTM initiative would allow for individuals to select their displayed names eliminating both intrusions of privacy, as well as possible exposure to discrimination or violence. Mastercard says that they are working on making the process of obtaining this type of card as minimally intrusive as possible. They wrote that they are working with their partners to ensure that the product is obtainable through “a sensitive and private process free of personal questions.”
Bloomberg reports that the network of U.S. issuers of Mastercard are working on solutions.
“What we’re introducing is a card that represents an individual as who they truly are,” said Raj Seshadri, the current president of the U.S. issuers of Mastercard.
“This is something that should be accessible to everyone in the way they want it and there shouldn’t be any pain in that.”
“We are allies of the LGBTQIA+ community, which means if we see a need or if this community is not being served in the most inclusive way, we want to be a force for change to help address and alleviate unnecessary pain points,” commented Randall Tucker, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Mastercard.
“This translates not only for our Mastercard employee community but for our cardholders and the communities in which we operate more broadly. Our vision is that every card should be for everyone.”
The announcement of the new card was well-received by LGBTQ advocates. GLAAD (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), a US non-governmental media monitoring organization, offered its support for the True NameTM initiative.
“Mastercard listened to transgender and non-binary consumers’ need for privacy and authenticity and created a powerful tool to make their lives better,” Zeke Stokes, chief programs officer at LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, said in a separate statement. “Other businesses should follow suit by working with members of the LGBTQ community to create financial products that reflect true identities.”
Still , there were a few dissenters noting that the program might be in violation of fraud and identity laws and Patriot Act compliance.
Whether this includes other public names is not clear. Many Pagans use their religious or community name as their primary identity preferring to keep their legal names private. The use of such a credit card could facilitate keeping their legal identity private.
Personal motivations for the use of a different name on a credit card for payments are varied. For many Pagans, their given name is often an element of their parents’ religious identity while other names are deeply rooted in a religious tradition no longer followed. A name like “Christina” derives from Latinized ecclesiastical Greek, christanos, meaning a follower of Christ. Other names are less conspicuous but still religiously rooted. “Manuel” is one such example originating in the Hebrew name Immanu’el (עִמָּנוּאֵל) which means “God is with us”.
Perhaps more seriously, the threat of “doxxing,” publicly exposing someone’s real name and even address, might be mitigated with a service like the one now offered by Mastercard.
Pagans who adopt their preferred name in all aspects of their life would likely be more at risk. Research on Pagans in the workplace has found that workplace harassment was not uncommon once co-workers learned an individual’s preferred name or Pagan practice.
The Wild Hunt did contact Mastercard’s division for Global Inclusion and Diversity for clarification about eligibility for the True NameTM initiative. It is unclear when the new cards will become available. At the time of publication, we had not yet received a response.
The underlying issue addressed by the initiative is, ultimately, the elimination of “deadnames.” These are former names that undermine the use of an affirmed name.
The use of deadnames is invalidating. We have no available statistics for the Pagan community, though anecdotal evidence that privacy violations and consequences from them are not rare.
We do, however, have empirical evidence that the trans community experiences serious harm when targeted with their deadnames. The U.S. Transgender Survey found hat 46% of transgender persons had been verbally harassed, and 9% experienced physical violence.
Mastercard is hoping that this product will begin conversations about the financial and personal inequities that are still experienced by LGBTQI+ persons generally, and the trans and non-binary community specifically.
The announcement of the product coincides with Pride celebrations in advance of WorldPride, this year commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.