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University tells non-binary student they have to be ‘diagnosed’ to change official gender

Josh Jackman February 8, 2018

(Reade Mullen)

A university has told a non-binary student to get diagnosed with gender dysphoria if they want to change their gender on student records.

Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent, England, rejected 21-year-old Reade Mullen’s request to be officially referred to as non-binary without a diagnosis.

Speaking to PinkNews, Reade said: “I felt very invalidated when I was told that I needed a medical diagnosis, as it meant that my right to identify as my own gender was boiled down to a diagnosis of a medical condition.”

(Reade Mullen)

They added that others in their situation would surely feel the same way, or could even have to deal with being outed by others, simply because of bureaucracy.

“In my mind, any students not in a position to obtain one or waiting the nearly required two years would not be validated and may spend their entire university experience having to correct their peers and any staff who know them only by what is shown on their records.

“Even worse, students or even staff who self-medicate and can pass as their preferred gender would be immediately outed as their records would show their assigned gender.”

Reade showed the authorities their gender clinic referral letter, but this was not enough for the university.

(Facebook/Canterbury Christ Church University)

Its staff suggested that Reade could instead choose to be classified as “other”.

This was reflected in the university’s statement to its students news site, Unified.

Christ Church said: “A student’s record can be changed to reflect a preferred name, title (including Mx to reflect gender neutrality), and they can also request their gender to be changed to ‘other’.”

Reade said this was an insulting proposition.

“As I put in my response to the uni, ‘other’ simply puts any non-binary identities in a box of not being worth labelling or respecting, which could be very emotionally and mentally harmful to students or staff who do not identify as part of the binary,” they told PinkNews.

(Facebook/Canterbury Christ Church University)

The university defended its decision, saying: “Like other universities, Christ Church is not able to make changes that affect formal documents, such as degree certificates, without legal recognition of their chosen gender or change of name.

“However, we are planning to review our current internal system to see how we can improve the experience for our students and reflect their wishes.

“We would also like to work with the SU and other colleagues from our University community to develop a new transgender policy for students and staff.”

After being told of the university’s position in October, Reade started the process to get a medical diagnosis, and is also trying to make a change through political means.

“I forwarded a motion to de-medicalise and change internal student records which was passed within the Student Union in January,” they said.

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 23: Hundreds protest a Trump administration announcement this week that rescinds an Obama-era order allowing transgender students to use school bathrooms matching their gender identities, at the Stonewall Inn on February 23, 2017 in New York City. Activists and members of the transgender community gathered outside the historic LGTB bar to denounce the new policy. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
(Getty)

“However, we haven’t yet received a response on the motion from the university, to my knowledge.”

Christ Church’s student union president, Krum Tashev, is supporting the motion.

He told Unified: “In the society that we live in, we realise that sex is different than gender.

“So it’s important for the university, as a 21st century institution, to recognise this and the freedom of identity of its students.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 25: Protestors demonstrate during a rally against the transgender bathroom rights repeal at Thomas Paine Plaza February 25, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rallies are also being held across the country in support of the Affordable Health Care Act. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
(Getty)

“Hopefully it will be a short campaign and an easy win for the students.”

Reade did note that “CCCU is in other ways a great uni to attend, with LGBT history month events and a public lecture from Ruth Hunt.

“However, for transgender students, this support is significantly lacking.”

The UK Government changed its guidelines yesterday surrounding sex and gender to be more inclusive of non-binary people, though it took down the new instructions within hours.

More: canterbury christ church university, gender, gender dysphoria, Kent, non-binary, reade mullen, Transgender, UK, University

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