Monday marked the NUS LGBT Activist Training Day for Scotland and the fourth T*BD focus group. We were able to consult LGBT+ students at each event, gathering ideas, feedback and perspectives from 40+ students, with more due.
Thanks are due to all the students, cis, trans, intersex and otherwise, who gave us their time and especially to the organisers at the training days who helped accomodate us. We are currently using your contributions to inform our report on the second phase of the consultation and will make this available on the new website in December.
We are currently updating the campaign website and will be launching the new version this month! It’s been a very busy and productive month for the T*BD team and whilst we’ll give a full description on the new website soon, this is a brief summary of recent work.
The responses to the first phase of the consultation have been reviewed and written up by our Best Practice Officer, Ellie. Her report covers the response to the consultation and amendments made in light of them and will be available to read on the new website. We would like to thank all who took the time to participate in the online consultation.
As announced on our Facebook group, Chloe and I met with the NUS LGBT Team, including the two trans representatives, to discuss cooperation between our campaigns. As a result, we will be attending the NUS LGBT Activist Training events to conduct the second phase of the consultation. This will consist of in-person focus groups, giving attendees the chance to discuss what they see as important factors for trans* inclusion and equality across the entire university experience and how to measure them. We will also be at the NUS LGBT Conference in 2012 to discuss and present our work.
We have also added to our articles and best practice series, which we hope will be of interest and use to anyone hoping to improve the situation for trans* students at their institution.
Thanks to everyone who has followed and supported the campaign so far, we hope you continue to do so on the new site.
We also have new email addresses, however the best way to get in touch is email: email@example.com
Although only in its 77th hour, Trans* By Degree has taken off at speed and shows no sign of slowing. The very nature of this once small, personal campaign has changed very much over the last few days from simply identifying universities who are trans*-friendly and sharing knowledge. Since Monday 21st July 2011, students from across the country have been outraged by inaccuracies and a lack of consultation with their LGBT students and societies in Stonewall’s carrying out of their second annual national examination of LGBT provisions in higher education institutions – which for many, provided either an inadequate or incomplete picture. Furthermore, I discovered on Friday that the National Union of Students LGBT Campaign was not consulted in the process, which seems pretty counterintuitive at many levels and a complete injustice to the many prospective LGBT students hoping to go to university. We will hopefully be receiving an article from Emma Brownbill from University of York LGBT explaining exactly why many LGBT students are not happy with Stonewall.
But whilst the problems with the 2nd Gay By Degree survey and report are not insignificant, they weren’t what motivated me to start Trans* By Degree: my concern was the lack of inclusion of any trans* inclusivity or equality in the report, as per Stonewall’s LGB remit. Judging by the number of enthused responses in just the first 24 hours, I’m not alone in that. Over the weekend, I have had a really pleasant reception from many trans* students and much to my amusement, I received more than a few comments from the cisgendered community concerning my involvement: ‘but it’s a trans* campaign & you’re not trans*?’ Funnily or flatteringly enough, I received many more questions about this from the cis community than I have from the trans* community!
So, now I think this would be an ideal time to mention that although some people may feel I would not be the best person to lead the Trans* By Degree campaign, I believe I am, at least for the moment. When I was elected as President of King’s LGBT, early on I wanted to identify areas for development: one area in particular that stood out was the lack of Trans*representation/provisions. I had similar feelings when I previously served as a trustee for a young LGBT people’s charity in south west England. Being a LGB and T society, I felt we needed to do more: while I do not identify as trans* I felt it was my duty to seek advice and get the right people on board. Generally in the LGBT community, the ‘T’ does not always get as much attention as the L,G or B, so at King’s I wanted to change this and push for increased trans* visibility.
Between a few trans* students, the students’ union, the equality and diversity department and the LGBT staff network within the college, things have moved on vastly. From hours of emailing, meetings, phone calls and putting heads together, we now finally have a society trans* officer in post to deal with trans*-specific advice and enquiries from the LGBT committee, the college and students; raised trans*-inclusive awareness in policy across the college; established gender-neutral bathrooms on every campus (although we are still awaiting confirmation on where they exactly are!); produced specific guidance and arrangements for staff dealing with trans* students; produced specific guidance for students who identify as trans* at the college and we have systems in place to cater for pretty much all trans* students’ needs (such as the LGBT welfare support email)! Essentially, we’ve achieved a lot for trans* students at King’s and we did this always with the inclusion and perspective of trans* students, whilst not leaving them to do everything themselves. It’s been a very productive partnership and informs how this campaign will be run.
I am certainly finding this is all very exciting and didn’t predict the scale of the positive reaction when the idea for this campaign arose after a Facebook conversation with Ellie Munro (Queen Margaret Union, University of Glasgow) a few months ago. We came to the agreement that it seemed that a number of universities across the country were doing good work but doing so alone, so initially I wanted this campaign to be about identifying and also creating a pool of those universities in some form of a database, accessible in the public domain. It’s clear from the response that a lot of you want to see the campaign do this and more. My ultimate aim for the campaign would be to take on more of a governance support role while empowering trans* students to take on most of the activism, mirroring the autonomous representation principles of the NUS Liberation Campaigns. As this campaign moves forward, I will continue to comment on how the consultation will be implemented; however this is very much dependent on the response from NUS LGBT and supporters of the campaign: If this campaign is to lead to changes in or inform student unions in Higher Education or Further Education Institutes, I feel it is only appropriate to involve the NUS Liberation campaigns. As such, I am in contact with the NUS Trans* Reps in both the LGBT and Women’s campaigns.
As for next steps:
The consultation paper is still being written and should be available within the next few weeks. The way the consultation will be planned, implemented and evaluated is still to be decided but it will eventually be done in a fair, diplomatic approach. Ellie has also offered to draw up a document outlining possible consultation options we could adopt…
The website will be gathering and compiling a list of supporting trans* inclusive union societies and campaigns- I’m really pleased with the response so far and would love to see this list grow. If you wish to be published on the supporter list on the website, please let me know as I will not do this automatically – you can ask to be listed as either an individual or an LGBT (or LGBTQ, LGBTUA etc) society. Also, please do join the Facebook group ‘Trans* By Degree’ so activism can be increased! (http://www.facebook.com/groups/260858790598359)
We would like more submissions of society/campaign created trans guidance documents to serve as best practice for unions that want to create their own guides to assist trans* students and assure them that they are welcome and included. Guides from King’s and York are already up. Additionally, Chloë Lord will be producing a template for trans* guidance, as a suggestion of what information would be useful to include.
We are also preparing articles on trans* inclusion, from various perspectives. If you have an idea for one, please get in touch, we’d love to receive submissions! I am keen to make the most of this website and use it as a resource too – if anyone is willing to write a personal account on being trans* at university that would be fantastic!
This is a pretty long post, but I hope it gives an idea of how quickly this campaign is growing as well as how much can be done by it. These extra ideas are due to feedback from you all, so please keep the support coming and spread the word about this campaign.
Michael Fanner | Founder of Trans* By Degree and President of King’s College London Students’ Union LGBT Society
Quick update for you all! I am working closely with King’s LGBT Trans Officer, Chloe Lord who is kindly producing a draft set of targets for the Trans* by Degree checklist against which achievements can be measured. Each point will come with a more detailed explanation of the requirements to meet it, along with an explanation of why it is being included.
The initial targets checklist will not be exhaustive, but will serve as a starting point for the consultation, which targets can be added to or subtracted from on the basis of feedback in the consultation. Definitions of requirements and justifications will also be open for modification as we establish a checklist of trans inclusivity standards for this project. See ‘What’s next?’ for more information on the consultation.
This afternoon, I received a phone call from Vicki Baars (National Union of Students LGBT Officer) informing me that the NUS LGBT Campaign would like involvement with the Trans* By Degree which is a very exciting prospect! I have been told the national LGBT committee will be meeting on Saturday and we’re on the agenda! – I will keep you updated on this development.
More will follow within the next couple of weeks!
Does your university, LGBT society or students’ union run trans* campaigns, welfare provisions or events that work really well and want to share it? – email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll put it up as a link on the right hand side of this page e.g. ‘Guidance for Trans* Student | King’s College London’
New Campaign. The beginning…
This week, Stonewall released their 2011 gay-friendly university guide ‘Gay By Degree’. The guide publishes an evaluation of provisions for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) students across all higher education institutions (HEI) through the use of a 10 point checklist. The checklist stipulates set criteria for universities to be judged against based on information that can be accessed in the public domain. While this is a great step within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) campaign, there is currently no equivalent for prospective students who identify within the trans* spectrum or other gender minorities who wish to enter higher education.
Like many students within LGBT activism, I believe that universities, students’ unions and LGBT societies should be recognised for their work that makes higher education a better place for trans* students, including many vital campaigns, welfare provisions and events. While I recognise Stonewall is a progressive charity for LGB rights, I also recognise that students from across the country put in a terrific amount of effort in trans* activism. I want this campaign to demonstrate some of the very best practice that currently takes place for everyone to learn from and share.
So in response to Stonewall’s guide, I decided to found a personal campaign Trans* By Degree to establish and develop a database of those universities who are trans*-friendly with the idea of the campaign largely based on the Stonewall’s work. With the ever-growing number of HEIs charging phenomenal fees for education from 2012, this campaign believes that everyone should be entitled to an excellent education within a well-provided-for environment - including trans* people.
This campaign will establish a checklist which will ask universities a number of questions such as: do they have trans*-friendly advice and guidance provisions available for students; trans*-friendly policy within the institution; the provision of gender-neutral bathrooms; the provision of trans* friendly changing rooms within sports facilities in Students’ Union and many more. The checklist will be concise and pertinent to the trans* student needs and will be developed over the next coming months through a national consultation.
If you wish to support the Trans* By Degree campaign and get involved, please register your interest by emailing me on email@example.com
Michael Fanner, Founder of Trans* By Degree and President of King’s College London Students’ Union LGBT Society | Twitter: fannybyname