Does more need to be done to integrate transgender people at university?

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO). and while universities might be making great strides to combat homophobia, transgender students are still having far too tough a time of it

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO); it's the opportunity to make people aware of homophobic issues negatively impacting on people’s lives, and celebrate positive changes in the lives of those who identify themselves as transgender.

The existence of IDAHO shows that society has progressed somewhat in its acceptance of the LGBT community - but are universities doing enough to tackle the somewhat invisible and forgotten presence of its transgender students in the university sphere in the UK?

Racism and sexism have undeniably been a part of many people’s university experiences, and we have identified ways to tackle both, yet the transgender community continues to not be accepted as part of our mainstream culture.

Alienated

With university being a hub for opposite-sex relations, many transgender students can feel alienated at university and find it difficult to fit in a mainly heterosexual sphere in which gender roles are still rigid. A final-year trans student describes her time at university as mostly alienating: "I was openly trans during my university years, but faced a lot of verbal abuse and at one point, physical assault on a night out. Hate crimes are a problem against transgender students and universities should do more to treat it as a necessary problem to solve."

And it’s not just social exclusion that may have an impact on transgender students’ wellbeing. Statistics show that transgender people are at risk from suicide, bullying, and social isolation. The Trans Mental Health Study 2012, the largest study carried out in Europe with 900 respondents, showed that a massive 84 per cent of respondents had thought about committing suicide.

Of those who had considered suicide, 48 per cent had made an actual suicide attempt and 33 per cent had attempted it more than once. With the highest number of participants aged between 18-25, this is concerning to say the least. One participant said 'we need to start helping trans teenagers. This would have helped me and probably prevented me from attempting suicide’.

Another stated that ‘the lack of support in the system can be very damaging, particularly so for younger people who have no support or no understanding from their families. The lack of safe spaces for people to escape or to access to residential/ therapeutic communities just means people get worse but they don’t tell anyone else’.

These statistics show effectively the detrimental effects of the lack of support young people are given and more importantly, their invisibility in a university sphere.

Some progress

However, some universities have made some progress in implanting trans-supportive policies. Oxford University has come some way towards meeting the needs of transgender students, through changing the dress codes for examinations and formal occasions, to allow transgender students to wear what they view as compatible to their gender identity.

Additionally, the University of Sheffield also offers administrative support for transgender students, as well as accommodation requirements and additional professional support. Sheffield is also unique in implementing a set of gender-neutral toilets in its university premises. Moreover, many universities have welcoming LGBT societies which hold events to explore trans-identities and work towards making universities and colleges a trans inclusive space.

One transgender student argues that these movements have made some progress in changing transphobic attitudes, too.

"I came out as genderqueer in my first year when I ran for a position on my university's LGBT society committee, and again when I went on to become the trans* rep for our liberation campaign. Legally changing my name and choosing to start hormone replacement therapy while at university was definitely the best decision for me and I have absolutely no regrets.

"I'm open about my trans* status and have tried my best to use that as a platform to engage with those who want to learn more about what it means to be transgender and gender non-conforming. However, I have heard some horrifying stories from other trans* people who have had terrible experiences on their campuses in other parts of the UK, and I count myself very fortunate to have had nothing but support from my friends, family and university staff."

Sky Yarlett, the NUS LGBT officer, argues that despite progress being made in the university sphere, ‘we know that not everything is perfect for trans students'.

"With students facing harassment on their campuses and their gender identities not being respected by peers or staff," she adds. "We are seeing the beginnings of a massive change and awareness of transgender within education but we’ve still got a long way to go. The rights of Trans students is at the fore of the NUS Liberation campaigns and the next year should be really exciting."

In order for transgender students to be integrated into university, universities have a responsibility to help this process, and to eradicate hate crimes, bullying and abuse that transgender students face. Universities also should play a role in educating its students to co-exist with others in society with those who have differing identities, preferably during freshers’ week.

Sheffield's gender-neutral toilets should be replicated nationally. Only by challenging transphobic attitudes and creating a space in universities where transgender people are welcomed as students, not as a minority group, will we see a change in the way transgender people are treated in society and university.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Clinical Sales Exec / Medical Sales Exec / Field Sales

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Clinical Sales Exec / Medica...

Guru Careers: Clinical Sales Exec / Medical Sales Exec / Field Sales

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Clinical Sales Exec / Medica...

Guru Careers: Clinical Sales Exec / Medical Sales Exec / Field Sales

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Clinical Sales Exec / Medica...

Guru Careers: Clinical Sales Exec / Medical Sales Exec / Field Sales

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Clinical Sales Exec / Medica...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game