31st March – International Transgender Day of Visibility

Transgender persons are part of the community of the University of Warsaw. It happens that they encounter situations of misunderstanding, dislike or even hatred, which may undermine their sense of security at the university, and additionally have a negative impact on their ability to study and work.

We would like transgender persons to feel at home at our university. In our university community, we differ in our views on many things. However, support for transgender people is an objective need that goes beyond beliefs.

Some students at the UW may prefer a different name and pronouns than those indicated by their data in their ID card.

We encourage you to respect this and address them according to their preferred name – in line with the university’s universal principle of treating everyone with respect.

Currently, at the University of Warsaw, there is no option to use the USOS overlay for people who would like to use a different name, but  Magdalena Miksa from the office of the Academic Ombudsman (Ombudsman UW) provides support in individual cases.

We are aware that confusing situations can happen. There is nothing wrong with addressing someone by accident using the wrong pronoun. Anyone can slip and there is no need to excuse yourself from a mistake. On the other hand, we encourage you not to mis-gender, i.e. not to intentionally use the gender pronoun from their ID card. This is distressing for transgender persons and has a negative impact on their ability to study comfortably.

If we are not sure how to address a transgender person – just ask after class or via e-mail. It can be proposed that during the first classes all participants should introduce themselves by their first name, surname and preferred pronoun.

There is no reason to expect a medical certificate about the transition process. Let’s not say “sex change” because sex does not change but you can make a correction or transition.

 

Glossary:

Gender identity – means what gender you identify with. This is a matter that most people do not think about because they identify themselves with the assigned gender. “It’s a girl!” “It’s a boy!” – assigning a sex to a baby right after giving birth does not raise doubts. It is a deep-seated, inner sense of social belonging to gender that may or may not match the gender assigned at birth.

Gender identity reflects personal perceptions of one’s body (including voluntary changes in body appearance and function by medical or other means) and the way gender is expressed through clothing, speech, and gestures. There are people who feel a profound mismatch between how they identify themselves and what gender they are assigned at birth. Such people often want to agree on their gender – so that the one they identify with corresponds to the one assigned to them. This may involve changing the name, style of dress, documents. Sometimes it also involves surgery and hormone therapy. Gender reconciliation and correction are not a whim or a fad, they result from a very deep internal psychological need.

Trans * / transgender people – people who do not identify with their gender at birth.

Cisgender persons – persons who identify with their gender at birth.

Non-binary people – persons who do not identify themselves as either a woman or a man. They may be somewhere on the spectrum between feminine and masculine, reject gender concepts altogether, or combine them within themselves.

Preferred pronouns – that is, the answer to the question “how should I address you?”. In English, if you are unsure how the person would like to be addressed and talked about – just say “they”. In Polish, the easiest way is to simply ask politely.

Deadname, dednejm – name given to a person at birth and not used later in life (with the possible exception of reference to record data); most often referring to the names of transgender people, which are inconsistent with their gender identity

Misgendering – addressing or speaking about a person using a grammatical type inappropriate for that person’s gender identity, i.e. using masculine endings in verbs for a person who identifies as a woman.

Transphobia – a strong aversion to people with ambiguous gender identities, especially transgender people, often combined with discrimination.

Sexual Transition – The process of changing the way you express your gender or sexual characteristics to match your inner sense of gender identity. This process may be associated with gender reassignment therapy, i.e. hormone replacement therapy, and gender reassignment surgery. Transition is a process that can last from several months to several years. It includes physical, psychological, social and emotional changes. Some people undergoing the transition process choose not to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

Educational video about homophobia and transphobia as part of the campaign “We are all Equal”

Text in the section Q&A:  “LGBT + people at the university”

A set of guides prepared by the Queer UW research group (in Polish).