Support for Transgender Students at Super College

First generation students CoGC

Support put into place at City of Glasgow College to assist transgender students is having a positive impact.

A range of contributing factors means transgender students face a higher risk of withdrawal from courses.

The ‘named contact’ initiative within Student Services offers personalised advice, support and advocacy.

Rick Ellis is a Student Advisor at City of Glasgow College and is developing a particular expertise in supporting transgender students. He said:

“I offer practical advice and emotional support to all transgender students, including individuals who may be questioning or exploring their gender identity. The majority of students self-refer themselves but teaching staff also play an important role in signposting students to the named contact service.”

Graeme Brewster, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at City of Glasgow College, said:

“Feedback on the service has been very positive with seven out of eight student referrals completing their course and academic year. This is an innovative and sector leading provision which demonstrates the commitment of our Student Experience staff to meet the diverse needs of our students.

“We are delighted that our college has now been selected as a good practice case study in the Trans.EDU Research project conducted by the University of Strathclyde and we are now extending the service to all LGBT+ students.”

Rick is currently working with fifteen transgender students, the majority of whom are transgender women.

“The main hurdle they face is acceptance. Some find walking through the open aspect of the college intimidating so, at their request, I can meet students at a more discreet entrance which is less stressful for them.

“As a college we are aware that transgender students might be subject to bullying and harassment, but there may also be issues in their broader social circles and at home. We work with the students on a one-to-one basis to increase confidence and help them develop coping strategies.”

The named contact service can deal with issues such as changing a name in student records, contacting qualification authorities to arrange for certificate amendments and to clarify errors. These small actions are invaluable to transgender students who often face a number of barriers when navigating administrative systems, obtaining official documents, and changing names.

Empowering students to lead the service provision has also been effective as they are encouraged to decide when they access the service and in what capacity. Other student attitudes can be challenging and may have an effect on the experience of transgender students. The college however has a zero tolerance approach to bullying and harassment and is adapting the student induction programme to place more emphasis on tolerance and better awareness of Hate Crimes.