St John’s JCR has resolved to provide £400 for the purchase of items that aid gender expression.
The JCR voted in favour of establishing a fund similar to those already in place at Exeter and Somerville, which can be used by students to purchase items such as binders, concealing underwear, packers and breast-forms.
The motion, proposed by the JCR Trans and Gender Minorities Rep Cas Burton, noted that gender dysphoria—the feeling of distress associated with a disconnect between a person’s perceived gender and their gender identity—affects students at St John’s and across the University.
It suggested that purchasing items for gender expression could help to tackle gender dysphoria, improving welfare and mental health, and that the JCR should strive to develop suitable welfare provisions for all its members, including those of the transgender and gender nonconforming community.
It also noted that these items can improve welfare for gender nonconforming students who may not experience gender dysphoria.
St. John’s JCR LGBTQ+ Officer Kelly van Eerde, who seconded the motion, told Cherwell: “I first came across the idea of a fund of this kind from other reps posting about it on the Oxford college LGBTQ+ reps Facebook group.
It is an initiative that many college reps have expressed an interest in setting up at their colleges.”
Van Eerde continued: “As far as I know, something very similar exists at Exeter College and Wadham College.
“I therefore brought the idea up with our JCR transgender and gender minorities rep, Cas, and we discussed with the JCR treasurer about how best to implement the fund.
“Cas and I then wrote the motion together—they proposed it as it is a topic more relevant to their role specifically.”
Speaking on the long-term effects the motion is predicted to have, van Eerde said: “The benefits of this fund are, I believe, twofold. Firstly, it is beneficial to any individual who makes use of it as it removes the additional financial worry that goes along with buying these items, which can already be intimidating to buy. This allows them to more easily alleviate dysphoria and feel more comfortable within themselves, improving these students’ welfare.
“Secondly, on a more general level, it shows the JCR’s support of our transgender and/or gender nonconforming members. By having this fund in place, it shows people who may be closeted or questioning that the college is a safe and accepting place to explore their gender expression and identity.”
JCR President Amelia Wrigley said: “I’m very proud to belong to such an inclusive and progressive JCR, and grateful for the hard work of my committee’s liberation officers in ensuring everyone at St John’s feels secure and accepted.”
St John’s JCR previously introduced gender-neutral bathrooms around college, and changed the constitution so that it includes gender-neutral language.
The move by John’s comes just weeks after the death of transgender academic Erin Shepherd prompted calls for increased efforts for the University to provide a welcoming environment for transgender students and staff.
Speaking at the time, Orla White, OUSU VP for Women and Equality, told Cherwell: “We know that trans women are often failed by mental health services, which is only compounded by day-to-day experiences of transmisogyny.”