Gender Transitioning GuidanceThis guidance is designed to focus on the support and advice that Edinburgh Napier University can offer to students who are undergoing any form of gender reassignment. It also aims to offer advice and guidance to individuals who are helping to support students.
Scope of the guidance
This Guidance provides assurance on the following key principles:
- Students will not be denied access to courses, progression to other courses, or fair and equal treatment while on courses because of their gender identity
- The University will respect the confidentiality of all trans students and will not reveal information without the prior agreement of the individual.
- The University will provide and ensure a supportive environment for students who wish their trans status to be known
- The University welcomes, and will provide, appropriate facilities for trans student groups
- Transphobic abuse, bullying or harassment will be treated very seriously and dealt with under the appropriate University procedure
As part of our wider Inclusion strategy Edinburgh Napier University is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming community where students are enabled to fulfil their potential and are treated as individuals. This includes providing support and understanding to those individuals who wish to take, or have taken, steps to present themselves in a gender different to their birth gender.
The University recognises that this can be a very difficult and complex time for an individual and would wish to act in a sensitive and supportive way by having helpful arrangements in place to ease any transitional period. The University fully recognises its legal responsibility to protect the rights of transgender people and to ensure that no individual is subject to discrimination or victimisation as a result of the gender in which they present themselves.
Legislation relevant to this guidance
- Trans people who are not under medical supervision
- People who experience discrimination because they are perceived to be trans people, and
- People from discrimination by association because of gender reassignment
The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA): underpins all equality legislation that relates to employers in the public sector and those for whom they provide services. Article 8, in particular, requires trans and non-binary people to be treated with respect, dignity and fairness, and to protect their privacy in family life and correspondence. Article 3 creates and absolute ban on degrading treatment. Article 14 is also important; it does not stand alone, but it ensures that all the other Articles under the HRA are delivered in a non-discriminatory way.
Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA: All IT records of the individual’s personal life and medical history (“sensitive personal data”) must be secured in line with the Data Protection Act, including password-protection, and should be “kept for no longer than is absolutely necessary’. Any named person who needs to access this private information, must still ask permission of the individual concerned, unless there is an emergency situation and the individual is unable to give permission.
Guidance on Terminology and 'Transitioning'
Gender reassignment (‘transitioning’)
What is gender reassignment? - There are a small number of people in the UK whose gender identity does not match their appearance and/or anatomy. This is sometimes called gender dysphoria. People who decide to adopt the opposite gender to the one assigned at birth are known as ‘transgender people’. Some transgender people want their bodies to match their gender identity.
The process is known medically as ‘gender reassignment’ or ‘gender transition’. However, the term transgender also includes persons who cannot, or have decided not to undergo medical treatment. More information regarding the gender reassignment process is included in Appendix A.
Guidance on respect for trans students
- Think of the person as being the gender that they want you to think of them as.
- Use the name and pronoun that the person asks you to. If you are not sure what the right pronoun is, then simply ask. If you make a mistake with pronouns, correct yourself and move on. Do not make a big deal out of it.
- Respect people’s privacy. Do not ask what their ‘real’ or ‘birth’ name is. Trans people are often sensitive about revealing information about their past, especially if they think it might affect how they are perceived in the present.
- Similarly, respect their privacy. Do not tell others about a person’s trans status. If documents have to be kept that have the person’s old name and gender on them, keep them confidential.
- Respect people’s boundaries. If you feel it is appropriate to ask a personal question, first ask if it is ok to do so. Personal questions include anything to do with one’s sex life, anatomy (not just genitalia) and relationship status – past, present or future. Questions such as ‘Are you on hormones?’ can be considered personal.
- Listen to the person, and ask them how they want to be treated and referred to.
Sources of Support
There is no requirement for a student who is undergoing gender reassignment to inform the University unless it has an implication as outlined later in this guidance. Who and when to raise issues with the University is a matter of student choice, however the University’s services are best able to support students when they aware of their circumstances.
A student who wishes support from the University should contact the named ‘trans student’ support person, Kirstie Farmer firstname.lastname@example.org based within the Student Wellbeing & Inclusion team. They will work with the student to agree an action plan to cover the period of the transition. Confidentiality will be maintained at all times.
A student going through the process of gender reassignment can seek support from the ENSA Advice team.
PDTs may also be able to sign-post support and provide advice to students regarding their student journey – for example through discussion of breaks in training or suspension of study which may be required to support time out of the university.
For changes that may affect a student record (e.g. change of name) support is available from the Head of Student Administration.
Transition Action Plans
A student, ideally with their main support contact, is encouraged to write an action plan together for managing their transition whilst at the University. This will include considering dates of transition and communication plans, the University being guided at all times by the individual’s preferences. Under no circumstances should any communication or actions be taken without the explicit consent of the individual. These action plans must be kept strictly confidential and any records destroyed after the person has transitioned.
Sample action plans are contained in the Advance HE (Equality Challenge Unit’s) Trans staff and student in HE guide and a framework for transition can be found at Appendix C of this guidance.
Guidance on Practical Considerations
External Support and Advice
Edinburgh Napier recognises that transitioning gender can be a challenging time for our students. There are a number of external organisations that may be helpful sources of support and advice:
Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is a statutory body with responsibility for protecting, enforcing and promoting equality across all protected characteristics
The Gender Trust is recognised as an authoritative centre for professional people who encounter gender identity-related issues in the course of their work.
The Beaumont Society is a support network that promotes better understanding of the conditions of transgender, transvestism and gender dysphoria
Gender Identify Research and Education Society initiates, promotes and supports research, particularly to address the needs of people who have a strong and ongoing desire to live and be accepted in the gender in which they identify.
Scottish Transgender Alliance offers guidance to employers on transgender equality issues and good practice in Scotland and provides information to support transgender people in understanding and accessing their human rights.
LGBT Youth provides a range of services for professionals and young people in Scotland.
Stonewall is a charity that works with organisations to support LGBT staff by offering inclusive, equal and inspiring working environments, see Supporting Trans Staff in the Workplace Guidance.
Appendix A - The Gender Transition Process Outlined
How is gender transition achieved?
Transition is achieved by the person undergoing gender reassignment. The process consists of counselling, followed by medication to alter the body and physical characteristics. During the early part of the process it is possible the individual may display characteristics of both genders.
The final stage for some individuals is to undergo surgery. Not all persons going through gender reassignment undergo surgery; it is a personal choice and not a key criterion in the process of definition to gender change. Much of the transition process is more about social aspects such as name, clothes, appearance and personality rather than the medical aspects that are often associated with it.
At some point the person will want to start to live full time in their ‘new’ gender and their name and other records (such as their driving licence, birth certificate and passport) may be formally changed. The person is expected to live and work in their new gender role for a minimum period of one year (in Scotland) prior to any irreversible surgical intervention. This period is often referred to as the ‘real life experience’ or ‘real life test’.
Every individual may choose a wide and differing set of options in the way that they wish to shape their future lifestyle and the choices they wish to make. The most important role that we can play as the employer and University is to offer support and guidance at any or all stages of an individual’s journey and to facilitate any procedures or processes as appropriate.
Intersex is a biological condition that people are born with. Intersex people can have a combination of male and female anatomy; as a result, their biological sex cannot easily be classified as either male or female. Until recently, the medical profession encouraged surgery on intersex babies so that the child would conform to stereotypical male or female appearances. Subsequently, many intersex people encountered difficulties later in life as the gender prescribed by the medical profession and society was different from the gender with which they associate. The advice now is to wait until an informed choice can be made.
Not all intersex people opt for surgery, and many will consider themselves to be intersex rather than male or female. While trans issues are different from intersex issues, intersex people who had their gender incorrectly prescribed at birth may decide to transition to the gender with which they identify later in life.
Appendix B - Transition process
The chart below provides an overview of a typical transition and may prove useful for those managing or representing staff or students throughout the process whether it involves medical intervention or social orientation. It is important to note that every individual’s situation will vary depending on a wide range of factors that can come into play.
- A person identifies that their attributed gender is not consistent with their gender identity.
- The person is diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
- The person informs their institution that they want to transition to their preferred gender and will commence a real-life experience.
- After at least three months, the person begins hormone therapy.
- At the person’s request, the institution updates its records to reflect any name change and their new gender.
- A new staff or student file is created and any documents revealing their former name and gender that must be kept (for example, pension records) are marked ‘confidential’.
- If the person is a student and they have changed their name, they are informed that they must legally change their name before a degree certificate can be issued in their new name.
- After at least 12 months, the person may undergo reassignment surgery.
- After two years of living in their chosen gender, whether or not they have undergone surgery, the person applies for a gender recognition certificate.
- A gender recognition certificate is awarded and the person is issued with a new birth certificate.
- The person is now legally recognised in their chosen gender – all documents and references that have not already been changed must now be changed.
- If the person is a staff member who is a member of the institution’s pension scheme, they must send their new birth certificate to the appropriate person to ensure their gender is changed on pension records.
Appendix C - Example of Action Plan to support students transitioning gender
- Does the student feel comfortable continuing with their current course/cohort? Are there any temporary or permanent changes to the student’s experience and obligations which should be considered to support the student? (Consider security aspects.)
- What is the expected timescale of the medical and surgical procedures, if known?
- Is any time off required for medical treatment? If so how will this be dealt with?
- What will the student’s new title and name be?
- When do they wish to start using this name and title? Will there be any phasing?
- When do they wish to start dressing and presenting as their gender identity? Again will this be phased? (This may not necessarily be the same date as above.)
- Are there any dress codes which need to be considered?
- When does the student wish to use toilet and changing facilities appropriate to their gender identity? Please note accessible toilets should not be suggested as an alternative.
- When will the Personal Development Tutor be informed and what records and or systems will need amending? When should other members of academic staff/student support staff be informed, and how should this happen?
- When and how should other students be informed of the transition?
- Is there any education material which could be used?
- When should other University departments/services be advised of the transition? What other University departments need to be made aware? E.g. ENSA, Sports Centre, Accommodation and Residential Staff.
- If any bullying or harassment occurs how will it be dealt with?
- Actions Agreed:
- Date of next meeting: