Some Oxford colleges, such as Balliol College and Merton College, raised the transgender pride flag for trans awareness week this November. 

The week commencing the 13th November starts Transgender Awareness Week. The LGTBQ+ focused charity GLAAD describes the week as a time when “transgender people and their allies take action to bring attention to the community by educating the public about who transgender people are”.

The week finishes with the transgender day of remembrance (TDOR) which is taking place on Saturday 20th November. TDOR is held to honour the memory of the transgender people who lost their lives due to acts of anti-transgender violence throughout the year.

Balliol College LGBTQ+ rep, Charley Archer, told Cherwell: “I think it’s really important to use trans awareness week as a way of keying in on trans issues which are still unfortunately really prevalent, but also to celebrate being trans in a world which often shames us, and the flag is a big symbol of that.” 

The trans pride flag was created by Monica Helms, an openly transgender American woman, in 1999. The flag’s colours of light blue and pink play on the traditional colours for baby boys and baby girls; the white line in the middle representing intersex, transitioning, or a neutral or undefined gender. Helms has stated that the flag is symmetrical so that “no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives”.

Archer also said: “we are raising the flag for trans awareness week as an act of support and pride in the trans community of Balliol and the university as a whole”. Charley shared that Balliol had further plans for trans awareness week including a “trans pride-themed bop for the whole college”. 

The flag has been seen in recent years on the railings outside the Radcliffe Camera which has been used as the site in Oxford for people to gather and honour trans lives on TDOR. Last year they remembered the 242 lives of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals who had lost their lives to anti-trans violence. A statement reminded the public that the figure did not include trans individuals who may have taken their own lives due to the transphobia they have faced.

The flag has been seen in recent years on the railings outside the Radcliffe Camera which has been used as the site in Oxford for people to gather and honour trans lives on TDOR. Last year they remembered the 242 lives of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals who had lost their lives to anti-trans violence. A statement reminded the public that the figure did not include trans individuals who may have taken their own lives due to the transphobia they have faced.

Last year colleges, including Magdalen, raised the trans pride flag for trans awareness week. This tradition is being continued in 2021 as a symbol of solidarity. 

Oxford University LGBTQ+ society (OULGBTQ+) said: “the flying of flags representing underprivileged groups in society can have a huge impact on the welfare of such groups” and that “it can show respect and appreciation” for the trans community. 

OULGTBQ+ says that the tradition of Oxford university “can be intimidating places for LGBTQ+ people”. The society says that “by flying the LGBTQ+ flag from the college flagpole, colleges make a bold statement” that they are both “welcoming and accepting”. Doing this also provides a ”statement of recognition of a minority that is often invisible”.

Image credit: Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash


For Cherwell, maintaining editorial independence is vital. We are run entirely by and for students. To ensure independence, we receive no funding from the University and are reliant on obtaining other income, such as advertisements. Due to the current global situation, such sources are being limited significantly and we anticipate a tough time ahead – for us and fellow student journalists across the country.

So, if you can, please consider donating. We really appreciate any support you’re able to provide; it’ll all go towards helping with our running costs. Even if you can't support us monetarily, please consider sharing articles with friends, families, colleagues - it all helps!

Thank you!