UCL launches Gender Expression Fund

UCL's Portico building lit up in rainbow colours for Pride 2022
UCL's Portico building lit up in rainbow colours for Pride 2022

As part of ongoing activities to support trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming students, UCL has launched a new fund to help with the purchase of items that will make them more comfortable with their gender presentation.

The Gender Expression Fund has been set up in recognition that a disconnect between gender identity and appearance can be a significant source of stress and anxiety for people who are gender diverse. Grants of up to a maximum of £100 are available for UCL students to buy gender affirming products such as clothing, beauty products or travel for medical or therapy appointments.

Set up at the request of UCL’s LGBTQ+ Student Network, the Fund is part of a  commitment to supporting trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming students and staff made by UCL’s President & Provost Dr Michael Spence in February 2022 .

Other actions include ensuring that trans students can update their preferred name easily and quickly through the Portico system and can receive a new ID card within 10 minutes of doing so, at no extra cost for obtaining a new card, and guaranteeing that all new buildings and major refurbishments on campus will include both gender neutral and single/sex toilets.

Gender neutral toilets have been provided in recent building works including the Student Centre, the Wilkins Building and the Lower Refectory. The Pool Street site at UCL, which opens this term, also includes gender neutral toilets, as will the forthcoming Marshgate site and the new neuroscience facility on Grays Inn Road.  A map of different toilet facilities is published online.

UCL’s  policy and guidance for students transitioning gender  makes it clear that trans students should always be referred to by their preferred name.  The Student Support and Wellbeing team  are able to advise students on the process of changing their name through UCL’s records and give full support throughout.

Dr Michael Spence, UCL’s President & Provost, says: "I hope our Gender Expression Fund, alongside our other actions, sends a really unambiguous message that UCL aspires to be a welcoming and inclusive place where all LGBTQ+ students and staff know they are valued and are able to be themselves. Our sense of comfort and belonging in our own skin is incredibly important to our mental wellbeing, and I am grateful to be working with the SU to set up a scheme that will provide a real practical benefit to students who are particularly vulnerable to marginalisation and prejudice."   

Seyi Osibamowo, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Students’ Union UCL, says: "The establishment of this small grant fund to support the news of our trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming students is a step in the right direction to regain trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming students’  trust with the aim of fostering UCL as an inclusive safe space."

The Gender Expression Fund is part of  wider package of over £500k available through Students’ Union UCL  for students affected by rising costs of living, which includes an additional £400,000 available through the Sarah Douglas Hardship Fund and an additional £150,000 available through the Participation Fund , which supports extra-curricular activities. In addition to extra funding to support students made available via Students’ Union UCL, UCL has also confirmed a permanent increase of £500 to the UCL Undergraduate Bursary for students with a household income of £42,875 or less, increased the total amount of money available through the Financial Assistance Fund , and provided additional funding for the 2022/23 academic year for doctoral researchers receiving stipends from UCL.

Advice on accessing funding is available through the  Student Funding  team and from  Students’ Union UCL.

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