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.
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.
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: