Image Credit: Cameron Samuel Keys

SU launches gender expression fund

The Student Union (SU) has launched a gender expression fund for trans and gender-diverse students to purchase gender-affirming products.

This follows a motion that was passed at the week 7 Student Council in Michaelmas 2023 mandating its creation.

The fund aims to “improve [students’] wellbeing” by providing funds to buy gender-affirming products including “binders, packers, breast forms, clothing and makeup”.

On its website, the SU wrote that it recognises the difficulties of “widespread transphobia and cisgenderism” and how gender expression “can be financially challenging, especially in light of the present cost of living”.

This form of financial assistance seeks to mitigate expenses that can be a significant barrier to easing gender dysphoria, and is available at universities across the UK such as Manchester, UCL, and Cambridge.

A motion was brought to Student Council in November by the then LGBTQ+ Campaign Co-Chairs titled “Centralised Gender Expression Fund Mandate”. It highlighted how dysphoria “can have a negative effect on trans people’s welfare and mental health”, yet the expense of items to mitigate this “[discourages] people who would benefit”.

They cited the OUSU Trans Report from 2018, which revealed that two-thirds of trans students expressed Oxford had a negative or extremely negative effect on their mental health. The report recommended for the University to “establish a centralised fund available to all transgender students and members of staff”.

The council also noted precedent from around 25 common rooms that already offered gender expression funds. For example, Balliol College categorises theirs as a welfare and hardship award to “help [students] feel comfortable with their gender presentation”.

The motion concluded that creating the fund “would show to current and prospective trans and questioning students that the Student Union is a safe, supportive and welcoming environment to explore one’s gender identity and expression”.

Students are permitted to apply for £50 at a time, with a total of £400 designated for this fund by the SU for 2023/24.

Evaluation requires applicants to be “trans, non-binary, intersex or gender-diverse” and a registered Oxford student. Funding for excessive costs, medical treatment, and private therapy is also excluded.

Vice-President for Welfare Rosalie Chapman told The Oxford Student: “I am grateful to have contributed to the Gender Expression Fund, which supports our trans and gender-diverse students by providing financial assistance for essential gender-affirming products”.

Chapman expressed how everyone should “feel comfortable and valued”, and hoped “this initiative helps achieve that”. She explained that the centralised model would help “address and reduce the disparity for gender-minority students” as not all colleges provide funding.

Image Credit: Cameron Samuel Keys

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