Salford University To Lead The Way In Transgender Inclusivity

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The University of Salford has pledged to become England’s first fully trans-friendly university after a recent surge in transgender or non-binary people approaching staff for advice.

The university’s specialist support service, askUS, has seen an increase from just three people in 2013 to over 20 already this year.

This has prompted staff to assemble a small group of students to develop an action plan and help work towards trans-inclusivity.

These eight students meet regularly to discuss ideas to make the university more inclusive.

Their first motion was the installation of gender-neutral toilets across the campus, with the intention of having at least one in every university building.

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Jon-Connor Lyons is a student at Salford and also the driving force behind the installation of these toilets.

Mr Lyons, 19, said: “It’s really good to have good services there, and good staff there to support you, and I think that the trans community don’t have that across this country right now.”

Mr Lyons thinks that Salford can do more for the trans community – for example, they have not lived up to their promise to have a gender-neutral toilet available in every building.

However, he still believes they are doing a good job and taking an important step toward social equality.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) are following the university as a case study for best practice in transgender support.

University staff hope that that this will inspire other institutions across the country.

Arron Pile, Student Diversity Officer at Salford University, thinks it is important for trans people in particular to have access to this kind of service. He said:

“[Transgender people] are a group of students that need particular support that most universities don’t offer.

“It was very focused on the LGB- communities, and trans students were often forgotten.”

Salford University is working with the diversity team on projects such as modernising the gender fields in the university computer system, updating the Nursing curriculum to include transgenderism, and providing mentors or buddies for people who are in need of one-to-one support.

The aim to provide at least one gender-neutral bathroom in every university campus building is also well underway, with only the MediaCityUK and New Adelphi buildings without.

Mr Pile has worked on diversity and awareness projects such as Sparkle, Twilight People, and Rainbow Pilgrims, and he works closely with Salford University’s askUS service.

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askUS is a university-wide support service which offers advice for any student issues, including money, religion, and employability.

They have a specialist page and team for anybody questioning or struggling with their gender identity or sexuality.

To read through a brief timeline on transgender history, please follow the below link:

https://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline3/latest/embed/index.html?source=1KWl00jhriK060vhbhRQ5-GmVOvuTgOizBvHwiPMMi2I&font=Default&lang=en&initial_zoom=2&height=650

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The Monthly Gift: The Northern Quarter-Based Campaign Fighting For Homeless Women’s Rights In Manchester

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People and businesses across Manchester are campaigning to make sanitary products more accessible to homeless women and people in need.

The Monthly Gift, the volunteer-led group who spearheaded this campaign, are dedicated to providing items like tampons and sanitary towels to people who would otherwise struggle to access them.

Its main donation point is at Oklahoma in the Northern Quarter, but the movement has been getting increasing support from businesses such as COW, Nexus Art Café, and The Mustard Tree.

They are also campaigning in Leeds and Nottingham, and are looking to expand into more cities.

The Monthly Gift was conceived by Christina Ward, 24, who thinks the stigma around menstruation needs to be broken so that the bigger issue of homelessness and poverty can be resolved. She told Mancunian Matters:

“If you don’t try and break the taboo of talking about it [menstruation] and you don’t bring it up then you’re never going to solve the issue.”

Ms Ward was partly inspired by The Homeless Period, a national charity also centred on the issue of menstruation for homeless women.

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The campaign’s main donation point was initially at COW Manchester, but moved to Oklahoma earlier this year.

Iona Wills, marketing consultant at Oklahoma, said that they got involved with The Monthly Gift on International Women’s Day.

She and Ms Ward were chatting at a workshop, and mutually decided to move their main base there.

Oklahoma now has its own in-house Monthly Gift specialist who takes all donations to their associated charities to be distributed.

The Monthly Gift and Oklahoma are striving to destigmatise menstruation, and to help people realise it to be a fact of life. Ms Ward, 23, said:

“[The Monthly Gift is trying to] dispel taboos around periods, and to get people to talk about it.

“Basically, it’s really expensive to buy sanitary products, and women have their periods, and we need to be more engaged in it.”

This is a particularly contentious point as people can get free condoms from the government, even though they are not considered to be as much of a necessity as sanitary products.