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Liberation Officers start petition as university ‘fails in its duty of care’ towards transgender students and staff

Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) Liberation Officers have begun a campaign urging the University of Edinburgh to show their support for transgender students and staff at the university.

The Liberation Officers started a petition, which has so far gathered almost five hundred signatures, asking the university to release an official statement in support of the university’s transgender community.

The petition called on the university to launch an investigation into ‘the conduct of University of Edinburgh students and staff who have actively created a hostile environment for trans members of [the university’s] community’.

The petition also requested a review of the university’s ‘Trans Equality Policy’, to ensure that it meets the needs of transgender students and staff and also includes non-binary and gender non-conforming identities.

In the petition, the Liberation Officers expressed the importance of such requests being addressed, saying:

“We respect the rights of all trans people to self-determination and bodily autonomy, and we demand that the university protect the trans members of our community from disingenuous ‘debates’ about these rights.

“The Senior Management Team has yet to explicitly support trans rights, or condemn the actions of a minority who are doing significant harm to the wellbeing of the trans community.

“We believe the university is failing in its duty of care by refusing to take a clear stand and hold those who promote hatred and disinformation to account.

Jaime Prada, the Students’ Association Trans and Non-Binary Officer, also released a statement exploring the importance of the petition’s needs being addressed. They said:

“There is no such thing as ‘debate’ about gender; there are trans people, and then there are those opposed to our fundamental rights.

“Trans people have always been here, and we will always be here – our culture is an inherent part of this city and this country.

“We are now reclaiming our rightful place in the public sphere, being empowered to share our stories and allowing others to live their truths.

“This is only possible because we [the Liberation Officers] are using our positions of leadership and responsibility within the university, to not only take a firm stance against transphobia, but to create a culture where people feel safe to embrace and celebrate their identities.”

A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said:

“We are committed to fostering a welcoming, inclusive and supportive environment for our whole community, where there is no place for any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The University is in the process of setting up an LGBTQ+ subcommittee of the Equality Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which will enhance our work to promote LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion. 

“We also remain steadfast in our commitment to freedom of expression and academic freedom within the bounds of the law, and our own Dignity and Respect Policy. Given the size of our community, it is inevitable that the ideas of different members will conflict. We encourage respectful debate and discussion whenever there are differences of view or opinion.

“The University’s Compliance Group considers any request for an event that might breach our legislative duties or our Dignity and Respect Policy. All considerations are informed by our deep commitment to the importance of freedom of expression.”

“Please find a link to our LGBTQ+ Equality pages here.”

The Liberation Officers have urged students to show their support of the university’s transgender community by signing the petition, to ‘ensure that our voices are not only heard but embedded into official university policies.’

Further resources can be found here:

Students who experience discrimination from a member of the university can find information from the Advice Place on the complaints process here.

The Trans and Non-Binary Campaign can be found here.

Further information and updates on Edinburgh University Students’ Association Liberation campaigns can be found here.

A map of gender-neutral toilets on the university campus can be found here.

Resources are also available through the Trevor Project, a non-profit organisation which focuses on suicide prevention within the LGBTQ+ community.

Image via Ted Eytan, courtesy of Flickr.