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Statement in Support of Trans and Nonbinary Communities at Sussex

In the light of recent events on campus and ensuing public response on social media, we extend our solidarity to all trans and nonbinary members of our community who, now more than ever, should receive the unequivocal support of the University and its management. As a union, we strongly condemn all forms of transphobia, and call the University of Sussex leadership to heed its institution’s values and commitments as set out in its Trans Equality Statement and its Dignity and Respect policy.

We urge our management to take a clear and strong stance against transphobia at Sussex. Now is the time for our University leadership to uphold the institution’s stated values by ensuring that the dignity and respect of trans and nonbinary staff and students, and their allies, are enshrined at the core of the University’s culture, a commitment that was inexcusably absent from the Vice Chancellor’s statement on Thursday 7 October.

Public discourses regularly devalue the lives of trans and nonbinary people, and appeals to both employment rights and academic freedom are often instrumentalised in this context. UCU will always fight for safe and secure working environments at our institution. We do not endorse the call for any worker to be summarily sacked and we oppose all forms of bullying, harassment, and intimidation of staff and students. There should be no contradiction between defending academic freedom and supporting trans rights and in this respect we emphasise UCU’s national position that the enactment of academic freedom is both essential to the work of Higher Education and “comes with the responsibility to respect the democratic rights and freedoms of others”. What we do call for, then, is an urgent investigation into the ways in which institutional transphobia operates at our university and diminishes the democratic rights and freedoms of some of its most vulnerable members.

We offer this statement as a part, and not the end, of ongoing and future work to tackle systemic inequities across the University of Sussex and do so in line with UCU’s national position on the essential union work of trans inclusion. We welcome the University of Sussex Students' Union (USSU)’s statement of solidarity with our trans and nonbinary community and defence of students’ right to protest, and extend our strongest support to the USSU and its officers in their commitment to standing up for all students at Sussex.

In solidarity,

UCU Sussex Executive and Reps


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