A motion to establish a new position of transgender representative on the Magdalen College JCR committee was passed unanimously at a meeting on Sunday evening.
The motion, proposed by Matthew Elliot, stated: “Transgender students face a large number of unique and personal welfare needs and issues which often have little guidance or support from the JCR.” It provides for an amendment to the JCR constitution to add the trans rep to the committee.
The duties of the new position include ensuring equality of opportunity and providing welfare support to all undergraduate students who identify as transgender, and lobbying for changes to college policies on transitioning students.
The debate was brief and passed with little controversy: there were no points against the motion and with no abstentions or votes against. Magdalen’s JCR currently has an LGBTQ Trustee, Billy Nuttal, and Officer, Chiara McDermott.
Nuttall, who seconded the motion, told Cherwell: “I am very happy that the JCR supports members of the trans community in our college.”
By passing the motion Magdalen college joins Wadham, the only other JCR to currently have such a position. Katy Haigh, Vice-President for Women at Oxford SU, said: “It is great to see that common rooms are expanding their representative positions to better reflect the demographics and the needs of their students.”
Magdalen student Ben Hopkinson, who attended the general meeting where the motion was passed, told Cherwell: “This motion proves that the JCR is committed to being welcoming and supportive to all members of Magdalen.”
Another student, Amelia Horn said: “Matthew Elliot made crucial points on how the welfare needs of lesbian, gay, and bi students differ from those of trans students and so it is important to separate the role within the JCR.”
According to the its equality policy, Magdalen College “welcomes diversity among its staff, students, alumni, and visitors, recognising the particular contributions to the achievement of the College’s mission which can be made by individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences”.
In 2014, the college’s LGBTQ rep, Elsa Field, resigned from her position after an article written for the St John’s Gender Equality Festival zine, which was described as “incredibly transphobic” by senior University figures. Elections for the position are expected to be held later this term.