Jo from the Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service talks about Transgender Awareness Week, running from the 14th – 20th November.
Transgender Awareness Week is an annual event, which aims to raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people and address some of the issues this community faces.
The final day of Transgender Awareness Week is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) – an annual observance on 20th November that honours the memory of people who have died as a result of anti-transgender violence. Cardiff University’s LGBT+ association will be holding an event to commemorate this in the Main Building, if you wish to join with them in paying their respects.
Most commonly, the term ‘transgender’ is used to describe:
“An individual whose gender identity does not necessarily match the sex assigned to them at birth” (Stonewall).
However, ‘transgender’ is an inclusive, umbrella term which can be used, more broadly, to describe the diversity of gender identity and expression for all people who do not confirm to common ideas of gender roles, encompassing anyone whose identity or behaviour falls outside of stereotypical gender norms.
Recent years have seen huge strides for trans visibility, with an increase in coverage in mainstream media about people who are transgender and many high-profile ‘comings out’ and breakthrough moments on TV that signal that attitudes towards trans people have been shifting.
However, unfortunately, this increased visibility has not yet translated to broad tolerance for trans people. Trans people are still subject to profound discrimination, rejection, hostility and violence.
According to recent NUS Research, transgender University students are much more likely to suffer bullying and harassment, experience more physical and mental health problems and are twice as likely to have considered dropping out of University.
Cardiff University can offer specific support for transgender students…
Support to transition
If you are trans and you would like support with transitioning at Uni, firstly – please try not to worry. The University has supported a number of students who have transitioned and there are procedures in place to make things as easy as possible.
The best place to start is to take a look at the policy and procedures document for supporting gender reassignment and trans students and staff, which can be found on the student intranet – search for Gender Identity.
The next step is to speak to your Personal Tutor, or contact the Student Support Centre for support in doing this.
Your Personal Tutor will arrange to meet with you, to agree the range of people (staff and students) who will need to be advised of any change in name and gender. You will agree how you would like to go about informing relevant people, and the most appropriate way and time to tell them. You may wish to lead this process yourself, or you may want the University to inform relevant people such as tutors / fellow students on your behalf.
Your Personal Tutor will work with you to make an Action Plan, with timescales, including things like:
- How information will be managed and by whom
- Whether you wish to inform relevant people or if you would prefer this to be done for you
- The start date of using any new name / living full-time in a new role
- The process for changing records and other documentation
- Any time off that may be required
You will always be consulted about what you’d like people to be told and the language you’d like used, and only those who need to know about the transition will be informed, with clear information given about confidentiality.
If you are undergoing medical and surgical procedures related to transitioning then you may need time off from your usual study activities.
It is best to try to arrange any appointments needed so that they don’t clash with lectures, but if this is not possible you simply need to speak to your Personal Tutor or your contact in Student Support, to discuss how to catch up on any work missed and any further support you need from the university.
You don’t need to give specific details about the medical appointments (such as the procedure being undertaken) when informing the University of appointments, but you may need to provide evidence of appointments.
You can access facilities which match the gender in which you present
If you are trans, you can access ‘men-only’ and ‘women-only’ areas – such as changing rooms and toilets – according to the gender in which you present. This may mean that you change the facilities you use at the point when you start to live in your affirmed gender.
Gender neutral facilities
The University also recognises the many non-binary and gender-fluid identities that exist, including trans non-binary identities, and there are a number of gender-neutral toilets on the campus and plans for many more to be provided.
If you have any specific requirements relating to accommodation and/or facilities, you can talk to University Residences about these and they will endeavour to address and rectify these for you as soon as possible.
You can request a change of name and gender on your Student Record
Any student can request to have a change of name and gender on the University’s student records system in Registry. You simply need to inform the Student Records Team within registry that you will be requiring a change of name and gender, and arrangements will then be discussed with you for your student record to be changed at a mutually agreed date.
Registry will also let you know how to go about getting a new University Student Identity Card and talk to you about which other records or documents the University holds on SIMS that may also need to be updated or withheld.
You can provide more than one type of ID
As not all trans people will hold a birth certificate that reflects their affirmed gender, you can provide more than one type of official identification for University purposes at times when official confirmation of your identity is required – for example a driving licence, passport or birth certificate.
If you do not hold any ID in your affirmed name and gender, Registry can help by advising you on this.
During transition, you can (legally) use more than one name for example: one name for your bank details and another name as a student of the University.
Your confidentiality will be protected
The University will take all relevant steps to ensure that your confidentiality is protected by ensuring that information about your previous name and gender and the fact that you have transitioned is not disclosed to anyone who is not somebody you have informed in an official capacity.
If you have changed your gender identity with the university, you have the right to request that all references to your former name and gender are removed from old records to ensure your former identity is not revealed.
The University will ensure that from the date agreed with you, your records will be changed. Any records held which contain your former name and gender will be appraised and destroyed if no longer required.
The University operates a Zero Tolerance policy on Transphobia
This means that transphobic abuse, harassment or bullying (including name-calling / derogatory jokes) will be dealt with under the Dignity at Work and Study Policy, as a disciplinary offence.
To ‘out’ someone without their permission is a form of harassment and, possibly, a criminal offence, and will be treated by the University as such.
If you have suffered transphobic abuse, or any kind of hate crime, the All Wales Hate Crime Project Team is available on the last Tuesday of every month in the Student Support Centre (50 Park Place), between 5.30pm & 7.30pm. The team offer bookable appointments to provide support and advice and hope to empower people to report hate crimes.
If you have suffered transphobic abuse, or been a victim of any form of Hate Crime, then you can access this free service to gain support or report an incident. This can also be a helpful means of support if you do not wish to inform the police.
Advice and support for students experiencing harassment, bullying or discrimination as a result of their trans status is also available at the Student Support Centre at 50 Park Place, and also from the University’s Equality and Diversity Manager.
Emotional and practical Support is available from…
Counselling, Health and Wellbeing
The University’s Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service is available to provide support for LGBT+ students.
If you are experiencing any kind of emotional distress, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We can offer support to anybody experiencing any sort of difficulty, however big or small, be it related to being trans or LGB, gender identity, transitioning at University, or something else entirely.
We offer bookable appointments via our online referral questionnaire, as well as a daily Drop-In Service called ‘Wellbeing Walk-In’, between 3pm & 3.45pm, Monday–Friday and on Wednesday mornings between 9.30am & 10.15am at the Student Support Centre at 50 Park Place; and on Wednesday afternoons between 3pm & 3.45pm at Cardigan House, our Heath Park Campus.
All of our staff will listen, without judgement, and offer support in a safe, confidential space.
Rainbow Bridge is an LGBT+ Support Organisation which offers free and confidential support to anybody experiencing or affected by domestic abuse who identifies as LGBT+. The Rainbow Bridge Team is available to Cardiff University students at the Student Support centre (50 Park Place) on the last Tuesday of every month, between 5.30pm & 7.30pm. The team can provide emotional support, practical support, advice and information.
Please call 0300 3031 982 or email RainbowBridge@victimsupport.org.uk to book an appointment, or to find out more.
The LGBT+ Society, CU Pride, and the elected Student LGBT+ Officers are also here to provide advice and support. CU Pride welcomes everyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. To join their mailing list anonymously, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
For any additional help, advice about university policies regarding LGBT+ issues, or for information regarding upcoming campaigns please visit the association facebook page or contact one of the current LGBT+ Officers
Equality and Diversity Unit
Advice and support for students on transitioning at the University is also available from the University’s Equality and Diversity Unit.
If talking to a member of staff is something you are not sure about, why not chat to one of our Student Wellbeing Champions. They are trained student volunteers who can signpost you to support, offer you a ‘Peer Ear’ and give you basic health and wellbeing advice.
The Champions will be promoting Transgender Awareness Week in the Students Union (Ground Floor, at the back of the SU, next to Santander) on 17th November, 3pm – 4.30pm. Please stop by to meet some of the Champions, have a chat or to pick up a leaflet. There will be lots of give-aways and goodies, including free rainbow cakes and haribo for any students who stop by! Members of the Rainbow Bridge Team will also be there, to promote the support that Rainbow Bridge can offer to students at Cardiff University who identify as LGBT+.
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Your feedback and help please
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Jo, Student Counsellor,
Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Team.
Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.