New gender identity policy excludes non-binary students

Brian Mahon 

DCU’s new gender identity policy has failed to take into account non-binary students.

DCU LGBTA Society Chairperson Dean O’Reilly told the College View that his “greatest disappointment (if that’s the word) with the policy is that non-binary students have been left behind yet again. As the policy puts forth procedures in line with the Gender Recognition Act (2015), of which does not allow individuals to self declare gender outside of the binary, the same stands for DCU students.”

O’Reilly said it was a “real shame” that non-binary students essentially have to “wait their turn” for laws to catch-up to the reality of the individual experience, adding that the five-year time review for the policy was too long.

Author of the report and Director of Student Support and Development Claire Bohan said she hadn’t got that feedback from the society but added that they “now need to see the policy being used and come to life and we can learn as we go and work with student groups who are happy to help with that development”.

The policy said it is due to be reviewed at five year intervals.

Nonetheless, O’Reilly said there were some “fantastic elements” to the policy.

“Under the Student GI policy, harassment or bullying or discrimination of any member of the university is not tolerated on the premise of gender identity or expression,” said O’Reilly. “As someone who is rather non-conforming in their own gender identity, I’m comforted that this safeguard exists.”

Rubberstamped last week, the policy on gender recognition states: “Gender identity and expression is a positive, core part, of being human and experiencing wellbeing and fulfilment.”

The policy document, which will inform how DCU interacts and engages with students on this issue, states that the university supports an inclusive environment of dignity and respect, “whereby anyone can develop to their full potential free of discrimination”.

Additionally, the policy commits DCU to provide “reasonable accommodation” to any community member that is undergoing social or medical transition while also removing “unnecessary gender distinction” within the university.

In return, DCU is seeking from those students who may be undergoing social or medical transition to inform the university of any support needed as soon as possible and to work within the existing deferral or postponement system of examination and assessments.

The policy also states that DCU is working toward a more inclusive sports arrangements and asks that any students that faces difficulty accessing physical or team sports to contact the university about the matter.

The document lays out how DCU will work with a student to help them transition, should the need arise and sets out a number of steps the university will take to ensure the student is safe and comfortable.

O’Reilly added that he would have seen it as a “personal failure” if the policy had not been enacted during his time as auditor. He also said an “imperfect policy” was better than no policy at all but “after all this time it is finally available to the students that need it.”

DCU will not be putting new funds to ensure this policy is implemented, instead, reallocating existing funds to the policy.

“We will re-direct existing funds if required for training. Many members of SS&D staff have had training from TENI and found it excellent. As we move along, we’ll decide who is required,” said Bohan.


Brian Mahon 

Image Credit: Sonja Tutty