Issues Facing Trans, Intersex, and Gender Variant Students and Staff at the University of Auckland

This is a document written up by JJ of Trans on Campus, taken into a meeting with Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon this morning.

Preferred names

  • Students being referred to by legal name rather than preferred name exposes trans students to harassment, is violation of their privacy and everyone deserves the right to be called by the name they believe that identifies them. Some progress has been made: for example changes to cecil are being implemented but there are still other places where there it is difficult to make such changes or no system exist, for example:
    • teaching staff not being aware of the legal/preferred name problem and making class name lists available to all students.
    • Trans students who graduate prior to legally changing their name will have academic documents that have an incorrect name. A process by which an academic degree certificat can be reprinted after a legal name change to match the name they use would ensure that a qualification from the University of Auckland will not cause a person discrimination later in life. This is especially important for certain professions such as doctors/lawyers.
    • There are also other instances where use of preferred name need to filter through. For example: Univesity Health Service, Councilling Service and Exam Reminders.
    • One final name problem is the unchangeable nature of UPIs for anyone. It can be obvious when a UPI does not match a persons name, in addition there are other instances where this can be a problem, for example a divorcee who change their name.

Bathrooms

  • Some advances have been made on this problem. An initial list of genderless toilets has been created and Rainbow groups are adding information to this. However the question remains that there is no clear indication as to whether a trans person is allowed to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. A university wide policy stating that trans students are entitled to use the bathroom of the gender that they identify with would remove confusion.
  • While we can use disabled toilets we are uncomfortable that these are the only facilities that disabled persons can use when we can use others. Repurposing some bathrooms to be gender neutral might be one solution. Along with an awareness campaign so we are able to use gendered toilets.
  • In addition the University of Auckland has only a very small number of gender neutral bathrooms available. This means that students who are intersex or do not identify within the binary gender can be forced to make a decision that may attract harassment. Consideration of including more gender neutral bathrooms in any new university buildings and longer term in existing buildings. At the very least on the ground floor of every building there should be a clearly signposted gender neutral bathroom. We note that some advances have been made on this with current disabled bathrooms being acknowledged to be accessible to trans students.

Staff-Student interaction guidelines

  • The rewritten equity policy is a positive move forwards however we note that it does not cover gender expression or compliance from University members. We are also preparing clearer guidelines that can aid University members on how to interact with trans persons at the University. Along with a clearer process of what a trans person, or someone belonging to other equity groups should do if they feel they are being unfairly discriminated against by a specific individual. The most difficult aspect that trans students and staff do face are the unconscious and conscious biases of other students and staff against persons who don’t conform to the binary gender stereotypes.
  • Some form of public support from senior University managment will also go someway to raising awareness of trans issues and give us more confidence in dealing with issues at the University.
  • There is really no easy solution to this and long term has to be done throughout society but the University has led in other equity matters, such as parental leave and flexible working. Trans on Campus aims to do this by running our own events during Pride week in parallel with main LGBTI group. In addition we hope that the University and faculty will work with us in putting together articles in newsletters and organise workshops to get our message out there. We are also hoping to work with the LGBTI network and rainbow groups to run some poster campaigns on relevant issues.
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