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UCU stands with the trans community

29 May 2023

UCU members have voted overwhelmingly to stand with trans and non-binary people.

Delegates attending UCU's Congress voted for two motions that commit UCU to mobilise in defence of the trans community.  

During the debate UCU delegates attacked the Tory government and right wing media for stoking a culture war that uses trans and non-binary people as a political football and commended the Scottish Parliament's passing of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill. 

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'Our members have once again made it clear that we are unequivocal in our commitment to trans and non-binary rights. I'm proud that across the trade union movement, UCU is one of the most vocal supporters of the trans and non-binary community.

'The normalisation of hostility to trans people in the UK is alarming. From newspapers to the heart of the governing party, trans people are consistently used as collateral, in a right-wing culture war. So while trans and non-binary people continue to experience violence at work, in public and at home, we will stand with them. We will continue to stand up to those who want to deny them their rights, whether they are in our workplaces, our communities, Westminster, or in the media.' 

Motions passed:

60 Composite: Trans and non-binary solidarity Liverpool John Moores University, LGBT+ members standing committee, National executive committee 

Congress notes: 

  1. the Tory government has stepped up its war on trans and non-binary people. 
  2. Sunak's decision to block the Scottish government's reforms of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) in January. 
  3. increasingly hostile narratives in media / social media including moral panic around LGBT+ people, especially trans people 
  4. individual and coordinated anti-LGBT+ attacks emboldened on Twitter since takeover by Elon Musk 
  5. Trans Media Watch is a trans-led media organisation working to ensure accurate, respectful, media representations of trans people. 
  6. the murder of trans teenager Briana Ghey in Warrington in February. 
  7. the mass protests and vigils resulting from the above. 

Congress believes: 

  1. UCU's trans-inclusive position is correct, and should be re-affirmed, promoted and strengthened in the face of concerted political attacks on trans rights. 
  2. this position must be made clear on every university and college campus and in the wider trade union movement 
  3. social media platforms can be positive but also become unsafe and toxic environments for LGBT+ people, especially trans people 
  4. UCU has duty to critically examine its media / social media engagement and strategies and consider how use impacts LGBT+ members 

Congress deplores 

  1. the continuing transphobia, discrimination bullying of trans and non-binary people
  2. the refusal to use correct names and pronouns and behave with respect, including regrettably sometimes in UCU. 

Congress expresses solidarity with all trans and non-binary people worldwide 

Congress resolves: 

  1. to mobilise UK-wide, nationally, regionally and locally for protests, vigils and marches in support of trans and non-binary rights and liberation, e.g., Trans+ Pride London, and local trans prides
  2. to engage with organisations like Trans Media Watch and LGBT+ members to produce LGBT+ inclusive media, including social media, guidelines for UCU and its members 
  3. review media practices within UCU to ensure positive support for LGBT+ people and inclusive practice that does not expose members to toxic online environments
  4. work with TUC to put pressure on UK government to remove block to Scottish gender recognition reform and introduce similar legislation in the rest of the UK
  5. produce information and guidance for branches for negotiating policies and procedures to support trans and non-binary people in their institutions
  6. identify gaps and produce new information materials for members, including on importance of  using correct pronouns and names, and to encourage all members to participate in training on trans and non-binary issues. 

62 Gender Recognition Reform Bill University of St Andrews 

Congress notes: 

  1. Scottish Parliament passed the Gender Recognition Reform Bill (by 86 to 36) which would remove barriers for people to legally change their gender by allowing for self-identification 
  2. this bill is now being blocked by the British Government (Section 35, Scotland Act 1998) 


  1. people should be supported through self-identification and transition 
  2. transphobia cannot go unchallenged - UCU has a responsibility to trans and nonbinary members to respond strongly to attacks on their rights 
  3. in affirming the right to safety and livelihood for trans and non-binary individuals who have moved to Scotland to flee oppression and persecution 
  4. in democratic decision making, here threatened by Westminster overriding Scottish Parliament.


  1. to strengthen solidarity with trans and nonbinary members 
  2. to examine practices in our union and work to make them more trans-inclusive 
  3. to make UK-wide representations to persuade the UK government to recognise and respect the democratic authority of the Scottish Parliament.
Last updated: 30 May 2023