Transcript of The Great Debate Q8: As a society, how do you believe we can become more inclusive of all gender identities and how can we fight against discrimination of gender non-conforming people?


Recently, the Student Union hosted The Great Debate 2017, an event in which students were encouraged to bring their concerns forward to a panel of university and Student Union leaders. I asked a question regarding the treatment of gender non-conforming people, and have transcribed the responses below. Every ‘-‘ dash indicates filler speech. 

If you have any comments or feedback you want the LGBT+ Network to know, please contact me via the feedback tab on this site. I also encourage all students who identify as gender non-conforming or trans to join our new Trans Voices Group, which you can do by emailing – Chris

QUESTION (CHRIS SMITH, LGBT+ OFFICER): As a society, how do you believe we can become more inclusive of all gender identities and how can we fight against discrimination of gender non-conforming people?

SHEARER WEST, UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM VICE CHANCELLOR: How we do it I don’t know but can I just agree with you that we should be doing it, there may bright ideas on the table-

SARAH O’HARA, PRO-VICE-CHANCELLOR FOR EDUCATION AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE : So there has been a fair bit of discussion in the past about things, just like – it would be around bathrooms and loos, about having genderless bathroom facilities which I think is something we can do within this institution quite easily, but we also have to accommodate for people who have very different views, so for example some people would prefer them to be single sex, some people, you know, don’t, so there are lots of things we can do but as an institution we have done a lot of work with the LBGT community, we have, – we’ve done a lot of work with the trans community and recently I – opened an event which we had down on Jubilee Campus where we had Paris Lees come and talk to us and she described her experience and Paris – I don’t know whether any of you know Paris Lees – but she’s from Nottingham and she talked about her – you know, her life on a council estate in Nottingham, and what it was like going at that time as a young boy to prison and going through this period of transition and what it was like and – it was a really interesting discussion because afterwards there was quite a bit of debate around – trangender(ed?) people, who were then getting into a debate with a group of – people in the room who said that they didn’t identify – with a gender so you’ve got quite complicated, what was going on. But I think as an institution… (unclear) we should be open to anybody regardless of their sexuality, their gender, it’s about them being decent people who want to work at this University and respect the University and that should be, you know, how we operate.

LILLIAN GREENWOOD, MP, NOTTINGHAM SOUTH: I think some of the key three things, I think first of all is the fact about University setting its values, saying that it is committed to inclusivity and it’s committed to equality and I think it’s starts from the statement of values, then it’s about policy so that’s what are the things that we need to put into place to put those values into action and I think an important part of developing that, especially as this is a, you know, this is a moving – situation, which is something that would change in this society and become far more open and we’re doing really well in terms of – I think, you know, being more inclusive and – having/ so I think there needs to be a discussion – about what that means and listening to people’s views about how we can make it a more inclusive and what sort of policies and practises we’re having – in place, and the third is, and of course this has become, you know, heightened in recent weeks in a broader sense around harassment and people’s experiences of harassment and discrimination, because we’ve got to have clear procedures , we’ve got to encourage people that if they, if there is something that happens, that they know what – that they can report it, that they’ll be listened to, that they’ll be taken seriously, that they’ll be supported, and that there’s measures in place to deal with unacceptable behaviour. So I think that’s how we fight discrimination but we kind of have to have, it starts from a position of values and in policy and then action.

SHEARER WEST VC: I think Lillian’s put that extremely succinctly – all I’d say personally as an incoming Vice Chancellor that in my previous roles , senior leadership roles in other institutions, equality, diversity and inclusion has been a huge element of what I’ve worked on in those institutions, and there have been some very effective outcomes of that and I would want to bring those values into my role here and – as Lillian says it’s values, then it’s policy, and then it’s – sort of – no tolerance for – the kind of negative behaviour that sometimes people experience.

ALAN HOLEY, STUDENT UNION PRESIDENT: Yeah I couldn’t agree more with – Sarah, Shearer and Lillian – I think anyone can express themselves in any shape or form that they so please – I feel like to improve the sense of belonging for LGBT+ members is the fact that to try and increase the understanding to a lot of people because it’s still a matter of, not contention but a lot of students still – and staff – still don’t actually understand all the different – sorry if I say this wrong, but all the different… (in crowd: identities) identities, that’s it – all the different identities and I think that understanding will help underpin – less discriminatory things to happen and I think that’s important to understand.



How to Improve Trans Voices with the LGBT+ Network?

Hey everyone,

This year as LGBT+ Officer, I have become very aware that transgender students do not currently have a specific platform for which to voice their opinions within the LGBT+ Network. Whilst the Network encourages feedback, suggestions and conversation from all those who identify as LGBT+, this umbrella term covers so many voices that I fear a lot of trans people feel uncomfortable expressing their true thoughts. Additionally, I feel that there needs to be measures in place so that trans voices are always brought to the forefront of all Network discussions – especially if the LGBT+ Officer for that year identifies as cisgender.

After discussions with trans people, I would like to suggest the idea of starting a Trans Working Group within the Network.
This would be a private Facebook group consisting of only trans people, and would be a place for trans people to share their experiences and concerns, as well as to discuss and voice their opinion on trans issues with the University. Going forward, this would also be a space for the sharing of trans specific welfare resources and for the development of a trans community.
In addition to this, there would be an totally anonymous feedback form given to all members of the LGBT+ Network so that any trans people who would feel uncomfortable joining a private Facebook group would still have a voice. This feedback would then be discussed within the Trans Working Group.

In the long term, I also have had ideas to bring to Union Council the motion to introduce a Trans Officer (or perhaps Gender Minority Officer (term to be decided)) on to the Part Time Officer (PTO) team, and then subsequently renaming the LGBT+ Officer to LGBQ+ Officer. By creating a Trans PTO, trans voices are acknowledged consistently and directly in a way I feel would not be as potent by just having a Trans Representative on the LGBT+ Network committee.

The Trans Officer PTO would take control of the Trans Working Group, and then relate and express the voices of trans people to the Student Union officer team, the University, and the LGBT+ Network. The Trans officer would also automatically joint run the LGBT+
Network with the LGBQ+ Officer (Perhaps in the future, this would then progress to the creation of a separate Trans Network with it’s own committee.) Of course, the Trans Officer would have to identify as trans (This is something that will need to be clarified in the bye-laws as currently the only way in which the Student Union is officially aware of trans students is through LGBT+ Network’s membership.)

I would love to hear your thoughts on these matters –
1. Is the Trans Working Group a good idea? How would you change or amend it?
2. Is introducing a Trans PTO a good idea? How would you change or amend the role?
3. Do you have any other ideas on how to better express the voice of trans people within the University?

Please use the ‘Feedback’ form on this website, or message our Facebook page, with your ideas and thoughts. Thank you for reading!!

–  Chris Smith, LGBT+ Officer 2017/18

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