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