Newcastle Student Council to vote on ‘increasing gender options’ in Uni documents

The motion claims that students who do not identify as male or female are not being looked after.

Delegates at this month’s Student Council meeting will discuss a motion that suggests that university and Student Union documents should accommodate for “genders other than male and female”.

The motion also calls for the addition of non-gender specific pronouns such as ‘they’ and ‘their’ alongside ‘him’ and ‘her’ on official forms and documents.

The motion states: ‘A portion of staff are not aware of alternative genders and therefore regularly mis-gender nonbinary, transgender, genderqueer and genderfluid students – causing gender dysphoria, emotional upset, anxiety and an invalidation of the student’s identity’.

Currently, services such as the Newcastle Student Self-Service Portal (S3P) and the Student Wellbeing Service only allows students to chose either male or female as their genders on official forms.

S3P Gender selection


Newcastle University online counselling registration form

The motion has been proposed by marginalised genders officer, Saffron Kershaw-Mee, who said:

“When you are unable to choose who you are on a drop down list, it’s invalidating. Thoughts go through your head like, “They couldn’t even bother to put ‘other’ or ‘prefer not to say’?” But, we shouldn’t be othered, we exist and we’re here, and Newcastle University and NUSU need to recognise that.

“This seemingly small action of giving the online systems a well-needed update will have the biggest impact – it will validate the existence of our students. Whether you are genderqueer, agender, androgyne, pangender, transgender, you will be supported by your University and Union”.

It is estimated that 1 in 250, approximately 225,000 people, in the UK identify as ‘non-binary’, which is defined as identifying outside of the traditional definitions of ‘man’ and ‘woman’.

In August 2016, Oxford City Council introduced a gender-neutral title on their paperwork – ‘Mx’, as opposed to the traditional Ms/Mrs/Mrs/Miss.

If the motion is passed at the next Council meeting on 8th December, the NUSU’s Welfare and Equality Officer and the Marginalised Genders Officer will be mandated to ensure that students will be able to select from a wider selection of ‘genders’ on official forms at university.