A motion to create a Full Time Officer (FTO) to represent transgender students within the National Union of Students’ LGBT+ Campaign did not pass at the 2015 NUS Conference, held this week in Liverpool.
Of 544 total votes cast in a secret ballot, there were 271 for the motion, 194 against, and 79 abstentions. Although a majority voted in favour of the motion, it did not achieve the two-thirds majority required.
The NUS currently has two paid full time LGBT+ officers. One space is reserved for a ‘self-defining woman’, while the other role is described as ‘open’, and may be filled by a person of any gender.
Motion 705 notes “that NUS LGBT+ campaign’s decision to have a designated women’s place LGBT+ Officer has increased the representation of women in this campaign”, and its proposers hoped that the introduction of a trans officer would similarly increase trans representation within the NUS.
The same motion was brought to the NUS LGBT+ Conference in March; again, while the majority of votes cast were for the motion, it did not achieve the two-thirds majority required. Concerns were therefore raised by some delegates at Conference that voting for a motion which had failed to pass at the LGBT conference would have failed to recognise the autonomy of the LGBT campaign.
However, the motion did pass with the required majority at the NUS Trans Conference, and other delegates stated that the autonomy of the NUS trans caucus should be given primary consideration.
The Conference’s failure to pass the motion has been heavily criticised by many members of the transgender community. Rowan Davis, second-year Wadhamite and OULGBTQ Society’s Trans rep, told Cherwell, “I am utterly appalled that, couched in the language of liberation, this year’s NUS National Conference completely failed to uphold trans autonomy and instead prioritised the voices of cisgender LGB people.
“The actions of cis delegates, including filibustering and blocking, made a mockery of the democratic procedures of the NUS and I would ask people that voted against the motion or abstained just to sit and think about how many more trans students will face the oppressive structures of transphobia because of their actions – they should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.”
At the time of going to print, the NUS Press Office said that its officers would be releasing a comment at a later date.