How staff can support trans students
Guidance on practical steps you can take to ensure trans students have a successful experience at the University of Bath.
What do we mean by transgender?
We recognise that there can be differences between assigned sex and gender identity and expression. We will never discriminate against people on the grounds of gender identity, intersex conditions or any process of gender reassignment. The term ‘trans students’, includes students living with any of these identities while ‘gender identity’ covers both the fixed identity of people living in the gender of their birth and the more fluid identities of many trans people.
A supportive environment
The University aims to provide a supportive environment for trans students. Our Statement on Trans Equality sets out in more detail how the University will support students and staff.
It is up to the student to choose whether to disclose their gender identity and to whom. If a student discloses their trans status to you, the information should be treated confidentially. Students may be unsure about whether they should tell others, our guide for trans students lists sources of support for this decision making.
Disclosure: What to say and do
For you, this may be the first time you have had a disclosure of trans status. A few basic points:
- treat the student with respect and reassure them that the university is committed to equality
- realise this may be a significant step for the student to take, so be respectful of the fact that you have been trusted with information that is very important to that student
- be led by the student as to how much or how little support they might need
- be aware that the student might ask to use a gender neutral pronoun e.g. they/them, respect what the student requests
- don’t ask about whether they have had surgery. Surgery is not a marker of whether a person is ‘allowed’ to identify with a particular gender
- explain that you might need to seek further information or advice from colleagues elsewhere in the university, who have more experience and knowledge than you. You can do this with, or without naming the student, so clarify with the student whether they are happy to be named.
Awareness and training
Staff in Student Services have been trained on trans awareness by GIRES. Other staff within the Students’ Union, Security, Accommodation Service and the Sports Training Village have also been trained as have some academic staff. If you would like specific training for your department, to enable you to better support trans students, please contact Student Services or the university's Equality and Diversity Manager.
Practical steps to support trans students
Everyone’s circumstances are different, but there is a range of practical steps the university can take to support trans students:
- the accommodation team will be able to make arrangements for a student to be housed in appropriate halls of residence
- it is possible for students to change their name, title and gender on their registry record and for Computing Services to issue a new username. Student Services will be able to co-ordinate this for the student
- Student Services can work with other departments to arrange new or multiple ID cards e.g. library and other access cards, as required
- students are entitled to use toilets for the gender they identify with. There are also a number of gender neutral toilets around campus and changing facilities in the Sports Training Village which students may wish to use, but they are not obliged to do so. Student Services can advise further
- academic departments can arrange for a student to have time off study in advance, or other adjustments, if a student is undergoing medical and surgical procedures related to gender reassignment. Discussion around a suitable adjustment can be held confidentially with Student Services and/or the Student Records and Examinations Office
- the Students' Union can advise on membership of gender-specific sports clubs and societies
- a Funding Adviser can meet with a student if they are experiencing financial hardship.
Support from other students
There is a well established LGBT+ Society Trans Network at the University of Bath Students' Union.
You may want to look at the Student Trans Roadmap. This is a guide for students by students from the University of Bath and provides staff with a useful insight into the trans student experience.
Reports of transphobia
We want trans students to have a positive experience at Bath. Harassment, bullying, discrimination, or victimisation are all serious disciplinary offences and will be dealt with under the Dignity and Respect Policy. If a trans student has any concerns about their experience at the University and particularly report transphobia, it is vital that you acknowledge the seriousness of this. Suggest that they request a confidential meeting with Student Services or consider alternative reporting options.