A new staff network has been launched to give transgender or gender-diverse colleagues at The Open University (OU) a safe space to meet and share experiences with people who live similar lives.
Recently an OU Trans Staff Network has been set up as a result of emailing members of the LGBT+ Staff Network to see if anyone was interested in a community specifically for trans or gender-diverse people.
The response was immediate with 18 members signing up, even though the network’s only been going a few weeks.”
The group is exclusively for trans or gender-diverse people to allow members to talk openly about their lives in a network that protects members’ anonymity.
It is important for group members to feel safe without worrying about being outed to the wider work community..The network will enable people to build community, form friendships and share experiences, such as the stress felt by a gender-nonconforming person when navigating gendered spaces like changing rooms or public toilets.
“The network is also about providing reassurance that it’s possible to have a fundamentally different experience of gender but continue to participate in and actively contribute to the wider OU community.”
Group members will be added to an email distribution list, the details of which only one member will hold, and receive monthly updates and invites to virtual meetups for informal chats.
The network is supported by the University’s Athena SWAN Institutional Action Plan, which is being implemented by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team, alongside the Gender Equality Steering Group.
The plan identifies various actions for supporting trans staff, such as posting the locations of gender-neutral toilets on the staff intranet and encouraging colleagues to add their preferred pronouns (she/her, he/him and they/them) to their work email signature.
Revising the OU’s transgender staff policy – in consultation with LGBT charity Stonewall, as well as the University’s LGBT+ Staff Network and its trade unions – is also planned. These actions will build on the work of OU faculties and units to support trans awareness across the University.
If you identify as transgender or gender diverse and are interested in joining the network, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.