As part of Trans Awareness Week a member of Pride contacted us about writing a blog post of their own personal experiences of being a Trans student in Aber have a read of their thoughts below:
Content warning: discusses transphobia, homophobia, and suicide.
I was asked, as an individual who identifies as transgender, to write up my experiences of being male to female (MtF) studying and living in Aberystwyth. In a way, I think of it as an honour to be able to share my experiences, both positive and negative, of my time in Aber. So, here we go.
I want to talk mainly about some of the positive aspects first, the biggest one being how accepting the student community is of my transition, pronouns, and appearance, since I don't effectively pass as a woman. It's very heart-warming when I feel terrible that my friends refer to me as she/her or they compliment how I look or even strangers calling me Hun - it's a nice cosy feeling, especially when you feel uncomfortable or like you don't belong in a certain place.
My lecturers and staff members in student support have also been super helpful in directing me towards useful resources or being an ear to talk to when I've had bad experiences or thoughts. One of my highlights was a senior student support member of staff signing my DVLA form so I could change my driver’s license (even if they got the title wrong).
And now, unfortunately, onto the bad experiences. Doctors are the worst. My surgery, halfway up Penglais hill, refused to discuss transitioning with me and my first doctor even tore up my GIC referral form in front of me. Thankfully one of the doctors did listen to me and filled out the form, but only after 3 or 4 visits and documentation of name changes, sessions with therapists and student support. But due to the wasted time and messing me around, I lost valuable time I could have been transitioning.
Whilst I have semi praised the staff at the Uni, it's now time to not to do that and discuss issues which have plagued me for a few years. It demanded trans athletes wear their biological clothing, in line with BUCS regulation, despite warnings that this can cause dysphoria and result in suicide. Whilst I haven't heard of any direct incidents - due to Covid having stopped all in person activities - I also haven't heard of any steps being taken by the students’ union to combat and lobby against this transphobia.
Another incident included a staff member calling me a f*ggot, a trend that would stick as I walked around on campus in the clothing I believe suits me, whilst being belittled as a "fake woman" and being referred to as a man by staff or students. Apparently, some staff members find it hard to be inclusive or kind when you want to *checks notes* feel less dysphoric and suicidal.
Unfortunately, as a young gay/trans person, I found it hard to talk about this to SU staff or staff in general due to the shock and alienation I felt it might cause, especially as I was concerned that the seriousness of these events would be downplayed,
Of course, these experiences are shared by myself and others, some are personal to me and only me. Take what you would like from this article, but I know that at the very least, most of the student community and some staff members are accepting and happy to help you.