Information for staff providing support
This page provides information on best practice for interacting with trans students and staff. It is important to recognise that not all experiences are the same, and people should be treated as individuals. We encourage a holistic approach to providing support that takes account of wider support needs and other aspects of an individual's personality, rather than focusing solely on their transidentity or experience.
A person does not have to undergo gender reassignment (hormone treatment and/or surgery) to change their identity. They might change their name and gender and live in their chosen gender.
The decision to transition is not taken lightly and can raise concern that family, friends and colleagues might treat the individual differently. There is no time limit on transitioning as this can depend on whether they decide to undergo medical interventions and how long it takes to arrange medical appointments. During this time, the support of line managers, colleagues or fellow students is important.
Trans individuals may experience mental distress due to the barriers they face in society.
For staff supporting students
Discuss any concerns the student might have and to explore how the student wishes to tell other people about their upcoming transition, and whether the named contact can do anything to assist with this process.
When a student or member of staff indicates either their intention to transition, or that they are already transitioning, it is advised that a face to face meeting is arranged in a private space to discuss the support available to them. They may decide to bring someone with them to the meeting. During the meeting, the discussion might include a general/open conversation about any particular concerns they might have. For example, how other students/members of staff might behave towards them and what they might be able to do to make them feel more comfortable and mitigate risk and alleviate any concerns. You might also like to start completing a copy of the Trans Student Action Plan which is available from Student Hub Advisers (normally this is completed by students with a Hub Adviser but it can be completed in departments too).
Time off for medical appointments/leave of absence
In Equality law, there is no specific provision for student leave due to gender reassignment but it would be good practice to support the students regarding any absences, for example to attend medical appointments.
As each student will have individual circumstances, absences should be managed on a case by case basis. It should also be noted that they may not have any control over when medical appointments are scheduled and recovery time. These might coincide with assessment deadlines, examinations or placements. In these instances, the department could look at alternative forms of assessment, extensions to coursework deadlines and how the student can meet the requirements of the placement.
If, due to constraints of the programme structure or restrictions imposed by the professional body awarding the qualification for example, nursing, social work, teaching, the only option is for a student to take a leave of absence (this should not automatically be a full year out of their programme) or retake a module, then thought should be given to the support the student will need to return to and complete their programme.
For line managers
It is important line managers are aware of the key policies and procedures around equality, diversity and inclusion so they are able to offer the best possible support. Check out the guidance for managers supporting trans staff, colleagues, and students (log in required) for key information on how you can support trans colleagues and/or staff you manage.
Staff should have an awareness of issues that affect trans people, and as a minimum should attend the University's Trans Awareness: The Basics training which is delivered periodically throughout the year by Gendered Intelligence.
Guidance and resources
Staff are encouraged to read guidance about supporting trans people:
- AdvanceHE: Supporting a student or member of staff who is transitioning
- Equality Challenge Unit: Trans staff and students in HE and colleges: improving experiences
- LGBT Foundation: LGBT Foundation - A guide to being a trans ally (PDF , 20,302kb)