In an effort to create a safe identity space for all staff and students of the institution, Edinburgh University has drawn up a new trans-friendly guidance to help lecturers and staff understand transphobic microaggressions and combat them. The resource was produced in consultation with trans and non-binary students from the university.
The university’s guidance
The guidance is a comprehensive resource that outlines what it means to be trans and non-binary and it goes into great detail about a range of unique experiences that they go through. It educates the staff about what transitioning is, the challenges trans and non-binary students face when navigating a gendered environment, and their need for increased medical support.
Additionally, the document provides academics with a list of banned phrases and actions that can be interpreted as microinsults and aggressions. These actions include deadnaming—using the former name of a person without consent, and misgendering. The university has told staff to reduce their use of anatomical sex markers, and to avoid making overgeneralised statements like, ‘all women hate their periods.’ They’ve also told lecturers to stop asking intrusive questions about intimate details. A student mentioned:
People feel entitled to ask questions that are really intimate that they'd never ask a cis person.
Because you've been honest about being trans, they then think that they've been invited into some sort of sexual or personal discussion.
Being an ally
Through this initiative, the university has emphasised the need for lecturers to be allies to transgender and non-binary communities. They have asked staff to start putting their preferred pronouns in emails, and they have also encouraged them to wear rainbow lanyards when on campus. Edinburgh University is not alone in making this effort. Several Russell Group universities have been taking similar initiatives, with some asking lecturers to attend trainings oncisgender privilege. According to Daily Mail, Newcastle University told their staff:
Being cisgender comes with social privilege. That's even for people who are socially disadvantaged in other ways.