Jaz Millar, Trans* Rep for the LGBTQ Network, has created a Change.org petition to persuade student letting agencies to remove the gender specifications on letting forms or add an ‘other’ or ‘prefer not to say’ category to rectify the current issues that this specification of gender binary causes for trans* identifying students.
Millar told Nouse: “Being asked about the ‘male to female split’ of my group when looking for houses made me feel pressured [to go] back into the closet as a non-binary transgender person.”
They added: “I started making plans to do something. I issued a survey and to my surprise 75 per cent of people responding said the question had also made them feel uncomfortable, either because of transgender issues or worries about gender discrimination.”
While not all letting agencies currently explicitly ask for a person’s gender when letting a house, Millar stressed that it is not just the filling out of forms that is problematic but also letting agents questioning gender breakdowns within groups when viewing houses.
Millar explained that they were targeting agencies that specialised in student housing in York as they believe that “we have real power over them, this could actually make a difference in trans* gender people’s lives and trans* inclusion in this city”.
A second-year student, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Feeling pressured to conform to a gender binary when looking for a house to live in for next year can cause a lot of anxiety, which doesn’t help when finding a house is already a stressful process in itself.”
The petition will be presented to York letting agencies on 25 April to coincide with the end of Trans* Awareness Week.
It has currently been signed by 130 people.