Fintech is a case study considering non-binary and heterosexual.

In the financial world, asking a customer for his legal name to sign up or continue with the service comes as standard and by default. But what about those whose legal names they do not agree with? To take this one step further, what about those who suffer a kind of injury when they hear their legal name? For transgender and non-binary people, there is no standard or default about the name given to them at birth. To address this, we created space for a preferred name, outside of our off-desk project that gives customers the ability to input their legal name as well as another name.

The problem

How can we navigate the legal complexities of money, and create an experience that stops the dead naming of our trance and non-binary customers?

For this project, I worked with engineer Jess Harrelson. Jess and I decided the best place to start this project was to give customers the ability to access their app from the settings page. We knew the long-term goal was to gather this information during the sign-up process, but for such rival funnels the bite is too large to prove the concept of navigating stakeholder complexities.

Our solution

To prove our point, we’ve added a UI to the settings page that lets people set their preferred name. Fairly straightforward, we knew we needed a button to turn on a stream that would contain the customer’s preferred name. We want to save that name, provide some education around when and why they had to use legal names and start addressing them properly in apps and emails.

A collage of images that show the user interface to enhance your first name.

Customer feedback has shown us that we made the wrong choice when using the word ‘preferred’ to describe the name we would like to address the user. This method normalizes the concept of a legal name and reduces the importance of names that users will enter into this feature. So we updated the copy without mentioning the user’s ‘preferred’ name, but only for their name. We chose a melody in our copy that was conversational and humane, but retained the respect and authority of a finance app.

A view of the settings page where legal names are toggled on and off, reveals users' legal names.

The last problem to solve when releasing this feature was to determine how to display legal names. We put our trans and non-binary customers first by choosing a UI that gives the user the option to see their legal name – or not.

A toggle was a natural choice for customer empowerment.


The name of a trans or non-binary person is not preferred; This is their name period.

This project is an excellent example of what Project Inkblot calls “Targeted Universalism”. Jess wrote a great blog post about this in detail, but basically the idea is that if you design your solution around your most negatively influenced personality, all your users will benefit. # Think BlackLives Matter. The feeling behind it is also fundamental in the fundamentals of Microsoft’s inclusive design.

“Solve for one, extend to many.”

– Cat Holmes

We have been able to apply this policy directly by prioritizing the needs of our trans and non-binary customers. This mission helped us overcome the fear that we would confuse Cissend customers or our legal team would oppose this feature (in fact they were quite helpful). This core principle has manifested itself in our copy choices, product development processes and interface material choices. With both internal and external launches, we were pleasantly surprised at how excited all our customers were.

A collage of pictures that show appreciation from social media by customers and insiders.

The success of the project inspires the addition of preferred names to our signup stream, which further incorporates the Betterment product.

“Using design to make our customers appear, we create deep emotions. When people feel their own way, they will give you business over and over again and they will tell others.

– Aaron Walter, designed for emotion

These articles are maintained by Betterment Holdings Inc. and are not affiliated with Betterment, LLC or MTG, LLC. The content of this article is for informational and educational purposes only. 2017–2021 Betterment Holdings Inc.

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