After over a year of campaigning, on 14th December the National Union of Students (NUS) crossed a historic boundary by becoming the first organisation in Europe to have a full-time elected officer to defend the rights of transgender people.
While the specific details of the job haven’t been confirmed, elections, to be held in March, will see an officer elected to work full-time specifically for transgender people.
Melantha Chitteden, NUS LGBT+ Officer, said the decision had “reaffirmed my faith in the organisation.” However, she made it clear that the NUS are setting their sights upon broader horizons, stating “this isn’t the end.”
In a statement on the NUS website, Chitteden thanked the students involved in the campaign. She said, “There have been some bumps along the way, but all the blood, sweat and tears you put in, I’m sure it feels so worth it now.”
The move will no doubt be welcomed by the estimated 28,000 transgender students in the UK. This decision also comes as a study has revealed that half of transgender students consider dropping out of their course at their time at university, and 20 per cent have been bullied or harassed on campus.
Commenting on the decision SU LGBT+ Officer Lee Brown said “Although it’s taken an age to get there, I’m really glad that NUS now has their own Transgender Officer. Representation is really important, and that’s something that’s become especially apparent with the creation of the role of Transgender and Non-Binary officer at UEA.”
He added, “Feedback from transgender and non-binary students on campus has been great to hear, and I can only imagine what positive changes can be made on a national level with NUS.”