Trans Allies: How can I help?

The USW Trans Allies project is due to be launched in May 2019.

Information in this section is based on guidance from Stonewall Cymru, ECU, Youth Cymru Trans*Form, GLAAD, and consultation with LGBT+ staff and students.

Why are allies important?

In the UK, cultural ‘norms’ about gender fuel discrimination against trans people, and this means trans people frequently face bullying, harassment and violence. Sometimes there can be a lack of understanding that living life as a trans person is no less authentic than living life as a person who is not trans.

Research has shown that discrimination against trans people is common and has significant negative effects. For example, more than a third of trans university students (36 per cent) have experienced negative comments or conduct from staff in the last year and one in seven trans university students (14 per cent) have considered dropping out or have dropped out of higher education because of experiencing harassment or discrimination from students and staff in the last year. For further information, see Stonewall’s LGBT in Britian Trans Report. Research also shows that gender identity is a factor in the choice of university for 23.7 per cent of trans students (ECU, 2009) and that universities with an established reputation for being trans friendly may see higher numbers of trans staff and students. At USW 3.6% of undergraduate and 2.9% of postgraduate students stated their gender identity was not the same as the gender they were assigned at birth. This equates around 800 students.

The work of allies is important in removing the barriers and dismantling the discrimination against trans people.

Trans allies can help change the conversation about trans people.

Staff at Cardiff campus for the pre-march Pride Cymru brunch, hosting Stonewall Youth groups

What is a trans ally?

A trans ally is a person who supports trans people and champions trans equality. Allies can support people, help raise awareness or promote trans equality in many different ways.

The Straight for Equality Project has produced a comprehensive guide to being a trans ally. They identify four main qualities of allies (a willingness to learn, addressing personal barriers, knowing support occurs in different ways, and diversity) and explore the journey people travel in being an ally. The booklet also addresses some of the concerns allies have about trans equality, including lack of knowledge or making mistakes, and identifies different ways people can be better trans allies.

Top tips

USW Trans Role Model Rhi Kemp and SU Gender Identity Officer Kay Dennis provide their 10 top tips to being a trans ally.

What do trans students have to deal with at University?

Based on research from students in colleges and universities across Scotland, these videos show what students have to say about being in university and the various aspects they deal with:

On personal safety:

On being misgendered:

On using toilets:

Trans students explain the basics about gender identity and ways to support others:

Where can I get more advice/ guidance?

Further resources, videos and links to organisations and guidance is available on Trans Support and Resources.

If you would like to, you can also pledge to support trans people in Stonewall Cymru’s ‘Come Out for Trans Equality’ campaign.

USW Trans Allies

USW Trans Allies are a group of self-nominated staff who:

  • Are active and positive allies who work to create a more inclusive workplace at USW for all trans people
  • Are committed to learning about and increasing their awareness of trans and gender identity equality
  • Support trans equality by challenging inappropriate comments and behaviours and by promoting events and initiatives at USW
  • Support staff who have a query about their students, by providing advice and signposting them to appropriate contacts
  • Provide trans people a confidential* space to discuss issues and queries and, where needed, signpost to existing support mechanisms for trans people and families, in USW and externally

*confidentiality is promised unless there is concern of serious risk to the individual or others

USW Trans Allies will:

  • Attend USW’s training on supporting trans and gender non-conforming people
  • Be offered refresher and/or additional training when available
  • Keep up to date on USW’s procedures and mechanisms in place to support trans staff and students
  • Be supported in their role of Trans Ally by other staff/ groups including;
    – Existing contacts for trans staff/students, as listed on the Hub/Unilife
    USW Trans Role Model and other LGBT+ Role Models
    – USW’s LGBT Staff Network Spectrum
    – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team
    – Dignity at Work/Study Advisers
    – Other Trans Allies

USW’s Trans Allies are not expected to be experts in trans equality or act as trained counsellors, but are volunteers who are committed to promoting and advocating for trans equality at USW.