Magdalen has unanimously passed a motion to mandate the LGBTQ officer to represent Trans members of the JCR.
The role will involve working with the college on developing a Trans policy, as well as recommending to future JCR Committees to appoint a Trans officer should the LGBTQ officers feel unable to lobby for Trans students.
The motion stated, “These [Trans] students often have specific needs and face complex issues for which there is often little guidance and support. For example, negotiations with college regarding transitioning, financial assistance with medical costs, being put in contact with other transgender students.
“There has been a greater push among the University and national student body to support transgender students, including through the creation of the new full time NUS trans-rep and the widespread adoption of gender neutral toilets and transitioning policies.”
It also noted that Magdalen was yet “to create publicly accessible gender neutral toilets” despite prompting from both the JCR and MCR and that it has “no current policy for transitioning students”.
Matthew Elliot, the LGBTQ trustee who proposed the officership, told Cherwell, “As a non-binary person, I felt that there could be no guarantee that future LGBTQ reps could adequately represent trans members of the JCR.
“I think that this is an important issue because the college still needs to do work on creating an official policy for transitioning students and providing access to publicly accessible gender-neutral toilets.”
The debate concerning the motion was not at all about the merits of gender-neutral toilets or the college’s need to have a policy for transitioning students, but came down to smaller questions of constitutionality and whether a full officership was possible, and how many students the position would represent.
“I was quite surprised that the motion passed unanimously, and I was quite nervous about the possibility of strong opposition to the motion.
“However, in hind sight, I feel that any members of the JCR who attend-
ed the meeting and opposed the motion would have had strong reservations about being openly against the provision of the right of representation for trans people.”
Indeed, the only changes made to the motion dealt with small issues adapting the position from another college to the constitution of Magdalen’s JCR, which makes officerships more difficult to create.
“I based the motion to create a trans officer on the same role in the JCR of St. Hugh’s, where the position does not have to be filled”, Elliot said. “However, this contradicts the constitution of the JCR, as all committee roles must be filled, and so the motion was amended to create the position as a supernumerary officer in the case where LGBTQ reps feel that they are unable to represent trans students.”
JCR president Sam Sherburn commented, “I am delighted that Magdalen JCR unanimously passed this motion which affirmed our commitment to make sure that all voices are heard equally, and are represented in the strongest way possible to the college.”
Many students saw this as a welcome development for the college.
“This is another essential step in making the college a more welcoming place for all people” first-year historian Benn Sheridan said. “Magdalen has always had a slightly austere reputation, this will change that.”