NUS Cuts Put Saving Money Before Trans Students' Wellbeing

It would be an understatement to say that the National Union of Students is in a bit of a state right now. It was recently leaked that the NUS is in almost £3 million worth of debt, causing nationwide panic amongst Students’ Unions and drastic plans to restructure the union to cover costs.

Last week it was revealed that these planned cuts are aimed directly at the liberation work of the NUS, a branch of their organisation that is vital to creating change across the UK for underrepresented students. One of the most notable and severe cuts is the planned defunding of the Trans Campaign and the Trans Full Time Officer in their entirety. And it's safe to say trans students across the UK are NOT HAPPY.

 

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— retransformNUS (@saveNUStrans) January 22, 2019

 

Three years ago, after a long campaign for an autonomous Trans Campaign and Full Time Officer, NUS National Conference passed the motion almost unanimously. It was a huge step for trans equality and representation at UK universities and colleges.

After a campaign that caused so much discussion and involvement, it seems extremely harsh and even politically charged to defund the Trans Campaign and Officer without any consultation. The decision was essentially made secretly by the NUS UK Board without discussions or input from the existing Trans and LGBT+ Officers or their committees.

The NUS claim this is part of their plan to restructure to have just one board, which means reducing the number of Full Time Officers. As usual, liberation campaigns are always cut first. A further breakdown of the planned changes to NUS’ structure can be found here:

 

IMPORTANT THREAD: PLEASE RETWEETYesterday, the NUS Turnaround Board published its formal proposals to NUS National Conference on 9-11th April. While there are some good ideas, there are many, many dreadful ideas. Let us tell you about them! #nusnc19 #saveNUStrans

— retransformNUS (@saveNUStrans) January 23, 2019

 

You may be thinking, “Doesn’t the Trans Campaign just come under the LGBT+ Campaign?” This is a logical assumption to make, but sadly things just don’t work like that. The current LGBT+ Officers, Black Students’ Officer, Disabled Students’ Officer and Women’s Officer published an official statement against the propsed changes, explaining the need for an autonomous Trans Campaign.

There has been a huge influx of trans and nonbinary students into UK institutions affiliated with the NUS over the past ten years. At UoM, we have been extremely lucky to have our own Trans Campaign since 2016, but this is not the case for all universities and colleges. That means that trans students at these institutions rely on the advice, events and support provided by the national trans campaign. And, more trans students means more demand for these services.

As for working under the LGBT+ Campaign, the statement points out that “a lack of campaigning on broader LGB issues can lead to transphobic backlash as trans people are seen as hogging the resources”. Trans students who are also LGBQ+ will be represented by this campaign, but the issues faced by trans people are specific and in need of specific representation and leadership.

The defunding comes at a particularly bad time - transphobia is growing under the disguise of feminism, the US has banned trans people from serving in the military and resources are being mocked in the media and defunded due to unfounded worries about “corrupting children”. There has never been a more crucial time to support trans people, especially trans students who will go on to be the next generation of activists, policymakers and educators. Taking away national representation from trans students is dangerous.

We need to fight back against these changes. The International Students’ Campaign are facing similar threats and we need to stand united. The NUS is meant to represent US, and how can you represent one of the fastest growing demographics in UK education without a campaign for them.

If you would like to help, keep an eye on the UoM Trans Campaign Facebook page and @UoMtrans and the official Save NUS Trans accounts @saveNUStrans and @DefendNUSLib on Twitter.

Her Campus at Manchester stands in solidarity with all our trans readers!