UCL launches Gender Expression Fund to support trans and non-binary students

Up to £100 is available for gender-affirming products and travel costs to procedures and therapy

UCL has officially launched a Gender Expression Fund to help trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students with taking necessary measures to feel more comfortable with their gender presentation.

The grant goes up to £100 per student and can be used for buying gender-affirming products and traveling for medical or therapy appointments.

UCL’s President and Provost, Dr Michael Spence, said: “I hope our Gender Expression Fund, alongside our other actions, sends a really unambiguous message that UCL aspires to be a welcoming and inclusive place where all LGBTQ+ students and staff know they are valued and are able to be themselves.”

In setting up the fund, UCL claims it recognises that “a disconnect between gender identity and appearance can be very distressing for those who are gender diverse.” In addition to this, the uni enforces a policy of referring to students by their preferred name, allowing a quick and easy process to change names on the uni’s systems and ID cards, and ensures that gender-neutral toilets will be available in all of its buildings.

The fund comes after UCL’s controversial decision last winter not to rejoin Stonewall programmes that served as an “external framework” to assess queer inclusion at the uni.

Students’ Union UCL said this withdrawal “has the potential to create an environment where gender prejudice and transphobic language is justified under the guise of academic freedom.” There had also been multiple student-led trans rights protests since then.

A UCL spokesperson responded at the time: “We are very aware that there are members of our community who feel upset and angry about UCL’s decision not to rejoin Stonewall, and we acknowledge their deep feelings.

“We are absolutely committed to working for the full inclusion of trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students and staff within the UCL community. We are determined that UCL will become an environment in which everyone is able to be themselves, and is respected as a valued member of the university.”

Students’ Union UCL said they hope introducing the Gender Expression Fund is a “step in the right direction to regain trans, non-binary and gender non conforming students’ trust.”

The fund is also a part of a wider support package of over £500k available through the Students’ Union UCL for students affected by rising living costs. More information can be found here.

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