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Quarter of JCRs have transgender rep

Over a quarter of Oxford’s undergraduate colleges now have a transgender representative on their JCR committee.

Queen’s College became the eighth to introduce the position this week, joining St Hugh’s, Magdalen, Lady Margaret Hall, Jesus, St John’s, Wadham, and St Hilda’s. Wadham SU was the first to introduce a trans rep, in the 2016-17 academic year.

The motion at Queen’s used statistics from the SU’s LGBTQ+ Campaign’s recent survey of transgender students at the University. The survey revealed that 98% of trans students at Oxford have experienced mental health issues, that over 60% say they have experienced transphobia, that half have self-harmed, and that one third have considered suicide.

The motion, proposed by Quin O’Sullivan and seconded by Alice Shepherd, said that “there are issues the transgender community face in the wider world and in university life which an LGBTQ+ rep may not be able to fully provide for.”

O’Sullivan and Shepherd said they hoped the creation of the role would help trans students “feel more comfortable and confident” while studying at Queen’s.

Earlier this academic year, Oxford SU VP Women, Katy Haigh, 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.”

All but two of Oxford’s undergraduate colleges also have an LGBTQ+ rep on their JCR committee: Brasenose and Trinity are the two exceptions. Both colleges have an Equalities Rep, whose constitutional role includes provision for LGBTQ+ students.

According to the University’s Equality Policy, Oxford attempts to create an environment which “promotes equality, values diversity and maintains a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all its staff and students are respected.”

Oxford says it “aims to anticipate and respond positively to the needs of trans and gender variant students, staff and alumni, enabling all members of the University to feel welcome,
safe, valued and supported in achieving their potential and contributing as a member of the University.”

Official policy also notes: “Students and staff come to Oxford from countries round the world, with very different approaches to transgender issues.

“Gender identity interacts with other areas of identity, including ethnicity, culture, religion and disability, and this may sometimes lead to particular issues for individuals, or cause tensions.”

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