7. Practical issues for trans students

Thinking about the timing of transition

The name that appears on the Degree Certificate is the individual’s legal name. Since new graduates may be asked to supply evidence of their qualifications to a new employer, current students may find it more practical to transition before sitting their final exams. (See below p.23 for information for alumni who transition after graduation).

Financial hardship related to being trans

Students who are transitioning may experience financial difficulties. They are likely to incur additional expenditure which may be significant: for example new clothing, travelling to specialist services/clinics, possibly private medical interventions and medication to avoid delays, laser hair removal and voice coaching. 

Some students report experiencing a breakdown in relations with their families because of being trans, causing distress as well as potential financial hardship. If families are hostile to the transition, they may withdraw financial assistance. International students may face particular challenges in discussing their transition with friends and family at home, where cultural attitudes to gender variance may be very different.

Any student who is experiencing hardship may apply for hardship funding through college and University. However, this is very unlikely to pay for medical treatments or for specialist gender counselling. Counselling to assist with stress or mental health concerns may be available through the student support services.

Sources of financial support
 Student Advice Service www.oxfordsu.org/advice/student-advice-service 
 College welfare officers  Support and access to college hardship funds
 University Hardship Fund  www.ox.ac.uk/students/fees-funding/assistance/hardship/uhf
 University Counselling Service  www.ox.ac.uk/students/shw/counselling
LGBTQ Society  www.oulgbtsoc.org.uk


Good practice: Keble College JCR voted to establish a Gender Expression Fund to support transgender students at the college who could not afford to buy binders, concealing underwear, and other necessary items.

Accessing medical treatment

An individual does not need to seek medical intervention as part of a transition process, although they may choose to do so. In the UK the initial point of contact is normally the person’s GP.  For students this would be their college doctor. The GP can refer to specialist Gender Identity Clinics for assessment and treatment, but there may be long waiting lists.

This may be a distressing time, so we would encourage students to seek support from the college doctor, the college nurse or the Counselling Service. Support may also be available through the Disability Advisory Service, if a student has been diagnosed with a mental health condition.

Help is also available through the national MindLine Trans+ helpline: www.bristolmind.org.uk/help-and-counselling/mindline-transplus.

A GP may be able to prescribe ‘bridging’ endocrine treatments as part of a holding and harm reduction strategy while the patient awaits specialised endocrinology or other gender identity treatment. Endocrine treatments should be given under medical supervision and appropriately monitored, so self-medication is strongly discouraged.

The University does not pay for private medical treatment, including specialist counselling.

Academic dress

Academic dress at Oxford has been gender neutral since 2012. Members of the University may choose which elements of subfusc (e.g. skirts, trousers, bow ties, ribbons etc) to wear with academic dress. See: www.admin.ox.ac.uk/statutes/regulations/48-012.shtml

Student sports

Involvement in sport helps to promote a healthy lifestyle and gives opportunities for students to form social groups and contribute to college life. Trans students should be given the same opportunities to participate in sports as other students. Being socially accepted in their self-identified gender is important to trans students and a refusal to let them participate in sport might be seen as transphobic.

Case study: Lawrence Michael Dillon (1915-1962) One of the University of Oxford’s alumni achieved sporting prowess as a woman, and later as a man. Laura Maud Dillon was an undergraduate at St Anne’s College, Oxford, who became president of the Oxford University Women’s Boat Club and won a blue for rowing.  After testosterone therapy he enrolled as Lawrence Michael Dillon in the medical school at Trinity College Dublin, where he rowed for the men’s team.

British Universities and Sport (BUCS) has a transgender policy. They recommend that where transgender issues arise, the policy of each national governing body for that sport should apply[1]. Sports societies are encouraged to take action against homophobia and transphobia, in support of the principles of the Government’s Charter for Action on Tackling Homophobia and Transphobia in Sport (2011).[2]

At less competitive levels trans people should be permitted to participate in their affirmed gender identity.

Trans and intersex individuals whose bodies differ from gender norms may be concerned about using communal changing facilities. Some may not have a binary gender identity, so only offering facilities designated male or female may not meet their needs. Providing gender neutral single stalls and private showers would be supportive.

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sports-charter

Good practice: at the instigation of a trans member of staff, the University Sports Centre explored offering a trans-only swimming session during Oxford Pride.

After completing studies

Alumni who transition at any time after leaving the University, may contact the University to request that records are updated to reflect their name and gender changes. They may also request that the University reissues their degree certificate, which is formal evidence of a qualification from the University of Oxford.  Legal proof of name change is required (see section 5 Alumni records – gender changes).

If an individual is applying for postgraduate study after transitioning, either here or at another university, it is recommended that  sufficient time is allowed to permit changes to be made before an application for further study is submitted.