Student register discriminates gender minorities – we demand actions from universities

Pride month won’t go unnoticed: universities wave rainbow flags and say beautiful words about supporting LGBTQIA+ minorities. But how is the reality – how does for example supporting gender minorities come true at the moment?
AYY x SHS x ÅAS x HYY x SYL x OYY x LYY: Student register discriminates gender minorities - we demand actions from universities

One apparent grievance is the risk of our trans and other gender minority students being discriminated against and misgendered to the electronic student administration systems, such as Sisu and Peppi. The possibility to change one’s displayed name only to one of the official names currently recognized by DVV takes away the autonomy of a student belonging to a gender minority to express their gender and may lead to uncomfortable situations. 

Using a deadname, i.e. an old name, can unwittingly reveal the student's trans background. Having one's background revealed against one's will can be a traumatic experience that no one should have to go through at university. As long as this happens, the university, despite its claims, is not safe, inclusive and equal for everyone.  

We demand our trans and gender minority students the right to be called with their preferred name instead of their deadname. We also ask for the university staff to be appropriately educated about LGBTQIA+ issues and inclusion of minorities. 

Unfortunately, the gender definition in the student register also leaves something to be improved. The gender definitions used in the register "woman", "man" and "not known" are not inclusive of all genders. Trans people, non-binary and other gender minorities know their own gender, and the definition of "unknown" belittles their right to gender self-determination. The options "other" or "I don't want to tell" would give students the right to self-determination to say that they are not binary or the right not to bring up their gender. 

It is unreasonable that majority of the teaching staff can see other information besides a student’s preferred name and student number. It is understandable that for administrative purposes there needs to be university staff members who know the student’s DVV registered full name, but a larger distribution is unnecessary. It’s a matter of privacy, respect and wellbeing. 

While we understand that technical systems set boundaries, we want to remind that universities also have the responsibility to ensure that their students aren’t at risk of discrimination based on their gender. Universities hold the power to advocate for appropriate change in the structures to dismantle current discriminatory practices against gender minorities. In its statement, the Commissioner for Equality has recommended that "IT systems and their development take into account the need for privacy protection of transgender people and the related perspective of preventing discrimination" (TAS 463/2021, issued on 20 January 2022 and TAS 306/2020, issued on 3 September 2020). 

“The struggles and injustices of students from gender minorities must be taken seriously. Show your genuine support for our trans and other gender minority students” demands AYY’s board chair Ida Parkkinen

Further information:

Ida Parkkinen
Chair of the Board, Aalto University Student Union
tel. 0400984545

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