Belfast Telegraph

Queen's second in UK for students officially changing their gender

Queen's University (stock photo)
Queen's University (stock photo)
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

Fifteen students at Queen's University Belfast have requested to change their gender on official records.

Almost 100 students across the UK's top third-level academic institutions have done so at a time when universities are being accused of "disturbing" failures to protect trans students from abuse.

Between 2016 and 2018, 86 students at Russell Group universities asked to formally change their sex on the student record.

Those at the University of Oxford submitted 24 requests, the highest number of applications.

Queen's, with 15 requests, was second.

The figures, which were obtained by the Sunday Telegraph, give the first indication of the numbers within the trans student population and mark growing awareness of trans people and issues.

However, Freedom of Information data from all 24 Russell Group institutions revealed that even more students - 89 - sought help with university services about gender transitioning and gender questioning.

Almost half of them - 39 - were studying at the University of Warwick.

Charities and campaigners have welcomed the increasing recognition of trans minorities on campuses, but described as "disturbing" cases where eight students had complained of discrimination.

They said that the Sunday Telegraph data emphasises how "there's more to do to help trans students" and they called on universities to show "more visible support and leadership".

In contrast, some academics said the process of recording results by gender will be rendered "meaningless" as increasing numbers opt to change their gender on record.

After Oxford and Queen's, the next highest number of gender change requests was at the University of Warwick (14), while 10 requests were submitted at the University of Leeds.

Also, after Warwick, students in Bristol were most likely to seek help for trans issues, with 37 accessing student services within three years.

This was followed by 10 in York and three in Liverpool.

But all the figures are likely to be higher as some universities offered values such as 'less than 10' so as not to identify individuals.

It is also believed that many more students identify as trans than just those who requested to change their gender on the record.

Eight complaints of discrimination were recorded over the same three-year-period.

These included two studying at the University of Glasgow, a further two at the University of Newcastle, and one student at Southampton, Bristol, York and the London School of Economics, respectively.

This comes amid fears that such provision is becoming less of a priority for universities.

The National Union of Students recently announced it is scrapping its trans officer role due to funding cuts.

The Russell Group did not respond to a request for comment.

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