Oxford Uni rewrites ancient dress code for trans students

Students will now be allowed to wear the ceremonial dress code of either gender to exams breaking a centuries old tradition

Oxford Uni rewrites ancient dress code for trans students
29 July 2012

Oxford University has rewritten their ancient academic dress code following concerns it was unfair for transgender students.

Under the new regulations, students taking exams or attending formal occasions will now be allowed to wear ceremonial clothing appropriate for either gender.

As of 4 August, candidates at the top British university can choose whether to wear a suit and white bow tie, or a skirt, white blouse and stockings for their exam.

The motion was put forward by the committee’s LGBTQ officer Jess Pumphrey, who said the change will make a number of students’ exam experience significantly less stressful.

She told the Oxford Student Newspaper: ‘In future, there will be no need for transgender students to cross-dress to avoid being confronted by invigilators or disciplined during the exam.’

Known as sub fusc, the dress code dates back to the college’s origins in the 11th century.

If a transgender student previously wanted to wear sub fusc of their preferred gender, then they had to seek special allowance from the university’s proctors who had the power to punish those who broke the rules.

An Oxford University spokesman said: ‘The regulations have been amended to remove any reference to gender, in response to concerns raised by Oxford University Student Union that the existing regulations did not serve the interests of transgender students.’

In 2007, the university asked its students to vote on whether to scrap sub fusc entirely for exams. The response was 70-30 in favor of keeping the tradition.

Simone Webb, the Oxford University LGBTQSoc President, said: ‘This is an extremely positive step, and indeed long overdue.

‘I am of the opinion that it is possible to keep elements of tradition in this way while making them unrestrictive to trans students, genderqueer students, or students who wish to wear a different sub fusc to that which they’d be expected to wear.’

Oxford is known for educating notable alumni such as gay writer Oscar Wilde, actor Hugh Grant, as well as 26 British Prime Ministers including Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron.

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