What do we mean by Trans?
We are all assigned a gender at birth based on attributes such as our chromosomes, hormones and external and internal anatomy. Transgender people are those whose gender does not align with that which they were assigned at birth. Trans is often used as an umbrella term, and trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms.
Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the 2010 Equality Act. This includes anyone who has proposed, started, or completed a process to change their gender.
Trans status, your gender identity, is different from sexual orientation. However the forms of prejudice and discrimination directed against trans people can be very similar to those directed against lesbian, gay, or bisexual people. Historically the two communities have coexisted and supported each other. As a result, action and support groups often include both sexual orientation and trans status. In the College, Imperial 600 was established in 2006 as a network to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans staff.
Why does awareness matter?
At Imperial, we believe that the dignity and individuality of every person here should be respected and cherished. We are committed to ensuring every member of staff has the opportunity to work to their full potential, is made welcome, is comfortable and has equal access to the services and facilities they are in need of. This commitment is embedded in our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.
Data on the trans community in the UK is limited and estimates vary. Research commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission suggests that approximately 1% of the UK population is gender variant to some degree. About one fifth of them may undergo a change of gender role, amounting potentially to 130,000 people. So far, few may have made that change, perhaps 20,000. But the number of people now doing so is growing each year, and even more rapidly among those aged 18 or less.
What can you do?
Using the correct pronouns for someone is a basic sign of respect, so it is important to note what pronouns a person goes by. We have developed a further resource page on pronouns.
The College has a Trans staff policy, and an accompanying range of resources. Members of staff should familiarise themselves with the policy.
The Gender Identity Research and Education Society (known as GIRES) has developed free e-learning resources which you can use to develop your awareness and knowledge.
The Equality Challenge Unit has developed guidance for higher education institutions to help them provide effective support for staff and students: Trans staff and students in HE and colleges (pdf).