The student-run Junior Common Room (JCR) committee of Magdalen College, an Oxford institution, unanimously passed a motion that will establish a new position dedicated for the needs of transgender students according to a report of Cherwell, its student newspaper, on Sunday.
Student Matthew Elliot proposed the motion that will amend JCR’s constitution establishing trans rep as part of the committee. The trans rep will be tasked to ensure equality of opportunity, to provide support to students who identify as transgender, and to introduce changes in college policies for the welfare of students who are transitioning.
Elliot said, “Transgender students face a large number of unique and personal welfare needs and issues which often have little guidance or support from the JCR.”
The motion was deliberated and passed with little debate. It was also welcomed positively.
“I am very happy that the JCR supports members of the trans community in our college,” Magdalen’s LGBTQ Trustee Billy Nuttal commented.
Ben Hopkinson, a student who attended the general meeting, stated in an interview by Cherwell, “This motion proves that the JCR is committed to being welcoming and supportive to all members of Magdalen.”
Another student Amelia Horn believed that delineating the distinct needs of transgender students is crucial and said, “Matthew Elliot made crucial points on how the welfare needs of lesbian, gay, and bi students differ from those of trans students and so it is important to separate the role within the JCR.”
Magdalen now joins another Oxford college, Wadham, with JCR committee that includes a trans rep, earning praise from Katy Haigh, Vice-President for Women at Oxford SU.
“It is great to see that common rooms are expanding their representative positions to better reflect the demographics and the needs of their students,” Haigh said.
Magdalen College’s equality policy stated, “[Magdalen College] welcomes diversity among its staff, students, alumni, and visitors, recognising the particular contributions to the achievement of the College’s mission which can be made by individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences”.
In Britain, perception and attitude regarding gender issues are evolving. For instance, a women-only Cambridge college revised its admission policy to accept students who identify as females.
The Daily Mail also reported that there are over 80 mixed-sex schools that allow gender-neutral uniforms.
Claire Birkenshaw, transgender headteacher, revealed last year that she became the first person to transition while in her position.
Several government institutions have since revealed plans for the transgender community. The Office for National Statistics said that it would make gender optional in the next census for trans people.
Moreover, organ donors at the National Health Service (NHS) will also not be compelled to declare whether they are a man or a woman.
In addition, plans of reforming the 2004 Gender Recognition Act are being considered in order to make legal gender recognition easier and less intrusive. Currently, applicants need a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, a medical condition of distress due to a mismatch between one’s gender identity and the gender assigned at birth.