University drops initials in new email addresses due to concerns raised by transgender students and staff

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By Lucy Downer, Deputy News Editor

The changes aim to address the issue of old log-ins reflecting transgender students' and staff's former identities.

You may have noticed that new students to Bristol University no longer have email addresses which start with their initials.

It has been revealed that this is due to concerns raised over the problems this could cause transgender students and staff who have changed their names.

A spokesperson for the University explained: 'An issue that has been raised periodically with the University’s Equality and Diversity Team is around how the IT log-in, assigned to each new employee or student when they join the University, and which starts with their initials, has unintended consequences for some.

'Concerns have been expressed by trans staff and students who may have transitioned to their preferred gender during their time here as their IT log-in remains linked to their former identity.

'Other issues have surfaced when staff or students have divorced but are still required to log-in using the initials of their married name.

'Although not significant in numbers, we are aware that this has had an adverse impact on some staff and students.

'Consequently, IT log-ins for new starters are now created using randomly generated letters.'

This change comes after the University’s recent moves to become more conscious and inclusive of the rights of transgender people, with the installation of gender-neutral toilets in various university buildings, and the checking of students’ preferred pronoun.

Some backlash to the move has been reported, with Professor Alan Smithers, of Buckingham University branding the changes ‘an absurd over-reaction’.

However, Bristol University have said that: ‘concerns have been expressed by trans staff and students who may have transitioned that their log-in remains linked to their former identity’

Grey Fraser, Vice-President of Bristol's LGBT+ Society responded to the news, stating: 'The recent switch to emails that don’t have the users initials in them means that trans students or staff members who choose to change their name as part of their transition are not stuck having to use the initials of their deadname (the name given to them at birth).'

'It’s a small change, but a welcome one in making trans students/staff members feel safer and more comfortable whilst at the university.'

The hope is that these changes will make steps towards the inclusion of transgender rights in all aspects of university life.

Featured image: Cecilie Johnsen / Unsplash


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