Cross-dressing banned! Our reaction

I’ve had to bin my Castor Semenya outfit for my Olympic-themed sports social tonight…

Exeter Guild

Sanya Burgess, Second Year English Student and writer for The Drop

I’d like to point out that the ‘offenders’ are not intentionally dressing up as transgendered, they are dressing up as women. Also, considering their aim for the night is to try and ‘strawpedo’ a bottle of wine in under 8 seconds I doubt that they’ve considered that their poorly constructed costumes may look like anything other than a group of lads having a laugh.


I’m also aware that you could argue “it doesn’t matter their motive, it’s the effect that counts”… but I just disagree. From my experience, the people dressing up are not doing it in a malicious way because it isn’t an issue to them. It is actions such as this email that turns it into an issue. The people that do have a genuine issue with minorities don’t often choose imitation as their form of abuse.


Is it offensive to women? As one myself, I feel fairly qualified to offer an answer: No. If a woman was to dress up a man it wouldn’t be called offensive. I find it more offensive that women apparently need different rules from men.


To complain about this would imply women need special treatment. This hyper-feminist attitude takes one step forward by damaging the offense made, but two steps backwards by acting as if we need this special treatment.

To summarise, lighten up and learn to appreciate a joke when it’s intended. A malicious message against any minority is one that is obvious – and if it isn’t obvious, it’s been poorly done so isn’t worth your time anyway!


Matt McDonald – Second Year English and Film Student, Editor of The Drop

"Another year, another controversy at the University of Exeter, fast establishing itself as a powerhouse of liberal guilt.


The latest apologist missive to gain national attention is the university’s advice to think more carefully when it comes to costume choice during Diversity Week, which started on Monday.


According to the email, 'the Guild is aware that there are several trans-identified students at Exeter and more who express their identity as gender-queer’ and that ‘to parody this appearance is crass and offensive on the same level as ethnicity.'


I feel forced to take issue with this. Of course blacking up is offensive. It is deeply offensive for a white man to assume the skin pigment of a race who his ancestors enslaved, and it is this historical context that means it is unacceptable.


Cross-dressing would not be justified by stating that the transgenders were never hauled from the shores of Africa to pick American cotton and polish British silverware.


Undoubtedly, we as a society should be tolerant and respectful of the transgender community. But this is precisely my point: they are a different community, and therefore a different issue. By clubbing the two together, the Guild is virtually implying a list of minorities that the white male of Exeter Uni has to try his darndest not to offend.


I don’t want to suggest that the students here at Exeter know it all when it comes to being sensitive of different sexualities; I do however believe that the good work of organisations such as Stonewall has permeated the dominant ideology of our culture to the extent that the vast majority would know how it is and isn’t inappropriate to dress when it comes to being sensitive towards those who aren’t heterosexual.


A statement from Nick “Badger” Davis in the Telegraph today justifies the message by claiming it was intended to “reach out to people who might not be aware that it could offend students.” I can’t help but feel therefore that the university is displaying an exceptional lack of faith in assessing the moral compasses of its students.


By putting this message out, the university has done nothing more but bring to light again that it is a mostly white, mostly heterosexual place of education: how does it expect to change this in the years to come if its criticisms of its students’ behaviour are continually in the public eye?


I am not irritated by this solely because I’ve had to bin my Castor Semenya outfit for my Olympic-themed sports social tonight (joke, I’m not that racially insensitive. I was actually planning to go as Rebecca Adlington, bought the shower cap and everything…)


Indeed, in many respects, I agree with the university’s plea to be sensitive about diversity: Exeter is a white-dominated university peppered with students from white areas (I challenge you to find a student at Exeter who doesn’t have a classmate from Guildford.)


But it’s impossible not to wonder whether Diversity Week would have been much more successful without the media furore: the uni has really been far too introspective on this one. As for me, I am forced to head to Timepiece tonight dressed as heterosexual white diver Tom Daley: if this offends anyone, you know who to blame."


Matt McDonald – Second Year English and Film Student, Editor of The Drop