Our Spring magazine is finally here! Click here to view and read our new articles!

LGBTQ Officer warns students of “transphobic” posters on campus

Image: Gem Card, via Facebook
Image: Gem Card, via Facebook
Image: Gem Card, via Facebook

“Transphobic” posters have been put up in bathrooms at the University of York campus, according to the University of York Students’ Union (YUSU)’s elected representative for LGBTQ students.

In an announcement on Facebook last week, LGBTQ Officer Gem Card told members of a group for LGBTQ students that she had received emails from students reporting offensive posters put up in campus locations.

Posters from ‘Fair Play for Women’ were put up in bathrooms in James College and Derwent College, The Yorker understands.

Fair Play for Women is an organisation campaigning to raise awareness of proposed government amendments to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, which, the organisation claims, would come “at the cost of women’s rights and will effectively signal the end of male-free spaces for women.”

In its posters, Fair Play for Women states that the government “is threatening a legal change that will rob women and girls of their rights.” The successful implementation of this legal change, encouraged by “multi-million pound lobby groups,” will, according to the organisation, mean an end to all spaces reserved for women.

Writing to students last week, Gem Card posted images of the organisation’s posters on Facebook, adding:

If you are not yet aware then please take a look at this post, I’ve received a couple of emails today about these transphobic posters [appearing] in female toilets on campus. I am currently trying to reach out to the correct people to resolve this issue and have the posters taken down. What I would like to stress is that no student should feel unsafe or threatened here and if someone becomes increasingly concerned by these posters please do get in touch, I will update you all when I hear back to find out what will be done. Ideally I would like [to] know how they got there and why people have felt the need to display these. I will pass on any info I can in the mean time please know that this is something I’m dealing with as best I can, and if anyone is upset please look out for them.

The YUSU Women’s Officers, who added on Facebook that they “do not in any way endorse this kind of thing,” declined to offer a further comment in writing, but told The Yorker that they doubted that the persons responsible for putting up the posters would be identified.

The Yorker contacted Gem Card, the YUSU LGBTQ Officer, and Dr. Nicola Williams, spokeswoman for Fair Play for Women, but received a response from neither party prior to the publication of this report.

Members of the public can contribute ideas for reforming the 2004 Gender Recognition Act. The Government wishes to receive contributions to determine “how best government might make the existing process under the Gender Recognition Act a better service for those trans and non-binary people who wish to use it.”

To achieve legal recognition of their preferred gender, trans individuals must match a number of conditions according to the 2004 Act. These include a diagnosis of gender dysphoria; proof that they have lived according to their preferred gender for at least two years; and an indication that they shall remain in this gender from the moment of successful legal recognition until their death.

“This consultation does not consider the question of whether trans people exist, whether they have the right to legally change their gender, or whether it is right for a person of any age to identify with another gender, or with no gender,” states the Government Equalities Office:

Trans and non-binary people are members of our society and should be treated with respect. Trans people already have the right to legally change their gender, and there is no suggestion of this right being removed. This consultation simply asks how best government might make the existing process under the Gender Recognition Act a better service for those trans and non-binary people who wish to use it.

According to the Government’s information, there are between 200,000 and 500,000 transgender individuals in the United Kingdom. The majority of transgender respondents to a Government survey indicated that they had kept their gender identity private when in the company of others to avoid receiving a “negative reaction”.

Public consultation on reforming the 2004 Gender Recognition Act ends on 19 October this year.