More and more students are coming out as being transgender as more and more universities become more accepting and understanding of the struggles trans students face in today’s society. Take it from a student who has been there, and keep reading for things learned as a transgender student at the University of Auckland.
Disclaimer: This article is specifically regarding Auckland university, but some parts could apply to other universities.
Advice for when you’re introducing yourself.
Introducing yourself to people at university is always important regardless of who you are, but when you’re transgender or any other gender besides the one that ‘matches’ your biological sex, it’s important to make sure you do it well.
Start with the usual small talk.
Start off with the usual things anyone at uni would say when introducing themselves: your name, your major, and some general small talk.
Make sure you use your preferred name.
Make sure you use your preferred name rather than your birth name to avoid not only you feeling uncomfortable but the confusion when the person realises that you actually like to be called something else.
At university, I’ve found that people generally don’t seem to care about what your gender identity is. And remember, if you’re not comfortable with coming out to someone, you don’t have to!
If you use pronouns that aren’t generally associated with your biological sex, it’s probably a good idea to bring those up too, as it can be awkward if somebody keeps referring to you using the incorrect pronouns, and it’s a pain to have to correct people all the time.
Setting your preferred name on the university system.
The university system allows you to set your preferred name, and this means that you’ll be addressed by it on things like Canvas, emails and sites used as part of your coursework.
The process is simple:
1. Go to the ‘student services online’ section of the university website.
2. Click on the green ‘update details’ button.
3. Log in.
4. Click on ‘update name’.
5. Enter your preferred name into the ‘preferred name’ box. This is directly below the field where you put your legal/birth name.
6. Click ‘save’.
7. A problem with this that I have found that preferred names often do not transfer to the class list in tutorials, so tell your tutor if you’re listed by your birth name! They will be more than happy to change it for you.
How to deal with the infamous ‘bathroom dilemma’.
There is nothing wrong with using the bathroom that you prefer. As a transgender student at the University of Auckland, I can tell you no one is going to judge you for using any of the toilets on campus. There are even some gender neutral ones listed on the Equity website (which will be talked about next).
Resources for LGBTQ+ students at university:
The equity office.
The equity office is there to provide assistance for anyone who feels like they’re being treated unfairly at the university, and it even has an area dedicated to helping LGBTQ+. If you ever feel like the way you’re being treated is wrong or that you’re being discriminated against for being who you are, the equity office is there for you. Their job is to make everyone feel safe and included. They even provide financial support for those wanting to change their legal name!
Trans on campus.
Trans on campus is there to provide information, support and advice to people at the university who identify as transgender or other gender identities that go under the trans* umbrella. They are also able to give information to other students and staff about the trans* community. They can be contacted via email.
Many faculties at the university have ‘rainbow networks’ such as Rainbow Science and Rainbow Engineering. These networks are specifically for LGBTQ+ students to get together, hang out and support each other. Each network holds a series of meeting each year, much like any of the many clubs at the university, which any student or ally of the LGBTQ+ community within that faculty are welcome to attend. These are all contactable via email, and all of these emails can be found on the Equity site.