Trans* Policy & Guidance summary

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This document is a summary to highlight important points in the extended policy and guidance document provided.

The LGBT committee of the University of Sheffield Student’s Union (referred to as ‘we’, ‘our’, or ‘us’) aims to ensure that no current or prospective members of students are subject to discrimination or victimization as a result of the gender in which they present themselves.

Trans* Policy & Guidance

1. Introduction

The LGBT committee of the University of Sheffield Student’s Union (from now on referred to as ‘we’, ‘our’, or ‘us’) values diversity and is committed to creating a positive environment where all people are treated with dignity and respect. We want to enable all students to fulfil their personal potential. This includes recognizing and supporting a person’s self-identity.

We recognise that there can be differences between physical sex and gender identity/expression. We will at no time tolerate discrimination against people on the grounds of gender identity/expression.

The aim of this policy is to ensure that no current or prospective members of students are subject to discrimination or victimization as a result of the gender in which they present themselves.

2. Trans*

A trans* person is someone whose perception of their own gender identity does not conform to the sex they were assigned at birth. The trans* identity umbrella includes sometimes-overlapping categories. These include but are not limited to transgender, transsexual; transvestite or crossdresser; genderqueer or non-binary (see definitions, section 14).

Many trans* individuals do not feel comfortable with the term Gender Identity Disorder or Gender Dysphoria as they think these suggest a psychopathology, which may make it more likely for others to make negative value judgments.

3. Gender Identity

Gender identity is a person’s perception and experience of gender and gender role. The way in which a person lives in a community and interacts with others is based on their gender identity. An individual may wish to live in the gender role that conforms to their gender identity. This may or may not entail a change of their physical sex through hormonal and/or surgical reconstruction.

4. Regulations pertaining to only Gender Reassignment

The Gender Reassignment Regulations protect a person who intends to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone gender reassignment from the moment they decide to start the process.

It is unlawful for an establishment to treat a person less favourably by reason of their undergoing gender reassignment, or to harass them.

This legislation protects a person only when physiological alterations are intended or involved. It does not provide protection for persons who choose to dress or live as a person of the opposite sex without any intention of altering their physiological gender. However, Article 14 of the Human Rights Act could provide such protection if another right is proven to be involved, such as the right to freedom of expression (Article 10).

5. Recognition of Gender Identity

We recognise that it can take a long time for an individual to decide to live in a gender different to the one recorded on their birth certificate. Support and assistance will be given to individuals who have made the decision to reassign gender during the course of their study and when appropriate.

We will recognise the gender in which an individual chooses to live their lives. A person can indicate their sex or gender as that in which they live, even where this differs from the sex recorded on their birth certificate. An individual does not need to have a Gender Recognition Certificate (see section 7) or need to have completed any hormone or surgical treatment; they have a right to have respect shown for their new name and gender. An individual is not obliged to disclose their trans* status to any establishment.

It is not appropriate to ask or force someone to reveal their gender identity.

6. Gender reassignment/transitioning

Some trans* individuals may choose to undergo gender reassignment/transitioning. Gender reassignment is a process that is undertaken under medical supervision for the purpose of reassigning a person’s sex by changing physiological or other characteristics of sex, and includes any part of such a process. Gender reassignment or transition includes some or all of the following:

7. Gender Recognition Certificate

It is not a requirement, however a trans* individual who meets certain criteria may apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). The GRC is issued by a Gender Recognition Panel under the Gender Recognition Act 2004. (Alternatively or additionally they may change their name by deed poll.)

It is not appropriate to ask for a Gender Recognition Certificate, in fact it is unlawful to do so, as once a person has obtained a certificate they do not have to disclose their past to anyone. In addition, it can take several years for an individual to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate and in order to qualify they must live permanently in their new gender for at least two years. A simple deed poll is mostly sufficient to update name and gender on passport, driving license, bank account details, etc.

If required by the establishment at any of our events, producing a normal I.D. card describing the chosen name, date of birth and gender should be considered sufficient.

8. Confidentiality

We are committed to preserving confidentiality. We will respect the confidentiality of all transgender students and will not reveal information without the prior agreement of the individual.

The Gender Recognition Act makes it a criminal offence to pass information of a person’s transsexual status to a third party without the consent of the individual concerned. It is unlawful to reveal that an individual has, or may have, applied for a GRC unless permission has been given by that person.

We will always seek permission of the transgender person to disclose any information to others. This will be on a confidential, strictly ‘need to know' only basis.

9. Appropriate language

The following points may be helpful for working establishments and fellow students as informal guidelines on how to treat people transitioning. We recognise the following as good practice:

10. Bullying and Harassment

No harassment, bullying, or victimisation of trans* people of any kind will be tolerated. Such behaviour is unlawful under The Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment Regulations) 1999 and/or Article 14 of the Human Rights and/or Article 10 of the Freedom of Expression. People who are perceived to be transgender are protected from bullying and harassment, whether or not the perception is true.

A person associated with someone who undergoes gender reassignment (e.g. a partner) is protected against discrimination on the grounds of that association.

11. Practical Arrangements


Additionally, we encourage:

12. Reporting transphobic hate crime

If you experience or witness transphobic hate crime in the local community, it is important to report this. You may do this anonymously.

Report it to the Student advice centre, Western Bank, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S10 2TG. Tel: 0114 222 8660

Report it to the Police by dialing 101, or online at In an emergency, dial 999.

National organisations

Broken Rainbow is a national organisation offering support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender victims and survivors of domestic violence and abuse., Tel. 08452 604460

Depend is an organisation offering free non-judgemental advice and support to family and friends of transgender people in the UK

The Gender Trust is a support and information centre for trans people and their families. It is also provides advice for employers and others who encounter gender reassignment in their work.

The Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) initiates and promotes research into gender identity.

Gendered Intelligence offers a free mentoring service for trans students and those questioning their gender identity.

Mermaids is a support group for gender variant children, teenagers and their families.

Press for Change is a major support and lobbying organisation for UK trans* people.

Queer Youth Network is a national voluntary group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people

T-house is the first Black Trans organisation in the UK, addressing gender and cultural identity.

Trans Media Watch gives guidance for transgender people when dealing with the media.

The UK Intersex Association (UKIA) campaigns and supports intersexed people.

13. Further Resources


The NHS has two free video stories, which were successfully used in training sessions at another university. Watching these videos helped to shift people’s attitudes and increase their understanding.

Equality Challenge Unit. (2010). Trans students and staff in higher education: revised guidance

Valentine, G.,Wood, N. and Plummer P. (2009). The experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans staff and students in higher education.

Government Equalities Office (2011). Headline findings from our transgender online survey. The Equality Challenge Unit has a personal account from a postdoctoral research assistant at University College London of how she chose to carry out her transition.

14. Glossary

Gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder is a medical condition when a person assigned to one gender (on the basis of their physical characteristics at birth) experiences a deep discomfort with that gender and identifies as belonging to another gender.

Gender identity is a person’s internal perception and experience of their gender.

Gender reassignment refers to medical treatment to support transition.

Gender role or expression relates to the way a person lives in society and interacts with others. Gender variant people see gender as a spectrum rather than binary, and express their identity in ways that reflect this. This includes androgynous/polygender people.

Genderqueer is a term used for people with gender identities other than male or female, thus outside the gender binary. Genderqueer people may think of themselves as one or more of the following: both men and women (bigender, pangender); neither men nor women (genderless, agender); moving between genders (genderfluid); third gender or other-gendered; having an overlap of, or blurred lines between gender identity and sexual or romantic orientation. The definitions are sometimes overlapping, and many more words exist that can't be included in this document

Intersex is the term used for humans born with variation in reproductive or sexual anatomy or physiology that do not seem to fit typical definitions of female or male. Sometimes this is apparent at birth. In the past the medical profession would assign a baby to a gender, and might perform surgery so that the child would conform to a more typical male or female appearance. Often this caused problems later in life, when there was a difference between the gender assigned at birth and that with which the individual identified. Nowadays the advice is to wait until an informed choice can be made. There are a number of sex chromosomal variations that may not produce any anatomical variation and may not be detected until puberty, or later in life. This includes medical conditions such as Turner’s Syndrome, Klinefelter’s Syndrome (XXY syndrome), and mosaicisms where half of a person’s cells have one form of sex chromosomes and the other half another (e.g. XX/XY mosaicism).

Legal gender is defined by a person’s birth certificate. People who obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate under the Gender Recognition Act 2004 can now apply for a revised birth certificate in their acquired gender

Sex refers to biological and physiological characteristics. In Britain the terms male and female are used on birth certificates to denote the sex of children.

Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. This includes, but is not limited to, transsexual people who feel a consistent and overwhelming desire to transition to their preferred gender. It also includes those who are gender variant or intersex.

Transphobia refers to discrimination, harassment and bullying or hate crime experienced by trans* people and people perceived to be trans, on the grounds of their gender expression.

Transsexual is used to refer to someone who has gender dysphoria and intends to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process of gender reassignment to live permanently in their confirmed gender. Some people who have transitioned describe themselves as a trans man (female to male transition) or trans woman (male to female transition). Others prefer ‘person with a transsexual history). In most situations within the university, gender is irrelevant.

Transvestite or cross-dresser is used for someone who dresses in clothing typically worn by another gender. Generally, people who are transvestites do not wish to alter their body or live permanently in a different gender, although for people experiencing gender dysphoria it can be a way of exploring gender identity