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Protect Trans Rights at the University of Leeds

Students and staff members at the University of Leeds have been campaigning for years against relentless transphobic actions made by University management, but their pleas for safety appear to be falling on deaf ears.

The University has refused to update its incidentally transphobic IT systems after multiple complaints made by trans people, whose personal details have been illegally leaked to anyone with access to their database. Management were made aware of this issue more than five years ago.

"At present, trans people’s previous name(s) and/or their previous title, gender, or their natal sex is shared in ways the University cannot control, predict, or prevent, including being revealed to colleagues, classmates, course tutors, and even groups outside the University."

On top of this, the University attempted to backtrack on its promise to protect trans rights for its staff and students. In 2021, the University publicly announced that it would be making changes to its Trans Equality Policy, without asking any LGBTQIA+ staff or students. The changes presented worries that legalities and protections that were previously in place were being cut down - such as the introduction of ambiguous language, and attempts to unburden the University from actively improving on its own policies - staff and students were now burdened with the task of fighting for their right to be safe.

"There are many statements which are qualified with “where applicable” and “where feasible”, such as ‘The University will strive to ensure that its curriculum does not rely on or reinforce negative assumptions about trans people and, where feasible and realistic, that it contains material that positively represents trans people and trans lives’."

Thanks to the labour of countless trans rights activists (and a petition signed by thousands), the University backtracked on their backtracking, and the Trans Equality Policy regained its status as an Equality Policy.

Leeds UCU, the University of Leeds LGBTQ+ Staff Network, and the University of Leeds LGBTQ+ Student Society have since asked the University to adhere itself to its Trans Equality Policy, to seemingly no avail.

The University refuses to acknowledge the desperate need to avoid outing trans staff and students on its databases.

The University refuses to acknowledge its need to consult marginalised groups on the issues they experience under its current management.

Students and staff at the University of Leeds are still under constant threat of being illegally outed to strangers and people in power.

"One staff member described the situation to the LGBTQ+ Staff Network:

“I came out as trans and changed my name, following all instructions given to me by the University in order to do so. However, my deadname continued to show up on many systems, and indeed still does over a year later. IT did not seem to have a process in place to prevent this, and I have felt like a guinea pig as they test various ways of updating systems on me. This has led to me being outed as trans and deadnamed to new colleagues who did not know me before my transition. This is humiliating and dehumanising."

"The level of ineptitude and what occasionally feels like genuine malice from the University has been beyond shocking. I cannot believe a workplace can treat its employees this way and still declare itself not only a safe place to work, but specifically a workplace friendly to the LGBTQ+ community.”

The LGBTQ+ Student Society shared one of their member’s experiences:

"My friend requested a change of name on all IT systems at the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year and, in August 2021, they still receive two emails from the university that contain their deadname every single week, from two different centres at the university. Their deadname shows up on their account on Leeds Language exchange which immediately outs them as trans to every single user of the language exchange platform. Their deadname has shown up on module lists that are public to everyone on their course, it has shown up on multiple different systems to professors and their personal tutor which has also immediately outed them as trans.""

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