Trans and gender diverse at La Trobe
We are proud of our commitment to make La Trobe the University of choice for LGBTIQ people, a safe place for Trans and Gender Diverse (TGD) students and staff. We are committed to the health and wellbeing of TGD people, supporting initiatives to improve social connections in the TGD community.
Transitioning or affirming your gender can bring a mixture of liberation, excitement, fear and trepidation. We do the best we can to make our campuses a safer place to transition and affirm your gender, however you need to do that. Look at our Coming out at La Trobe page for more guidance.
You can also find Gender Neutral Toilet location at Melbourne campus (1.45MB). Gender neutral toilets are available on all campuses of La Trobe.
'Between the support from my peers and the resources available, being non-binary at LaTrobe has been a positive experience so far. I’m out to most of my friends and classmates and they’ve been good about pronouns and such, even if they occasionally need reminding.' Riley – Student at Bendigo Campus
The gender spectrum
Gender is not a binary; a choice between two socially constructed boxes. Gender can be fluid, subjective, and personal and only you can define this for yourself. This can be a revelation for many, and it can at the same time cause confusion when faced with cis-normativity (the assumption that everyone is either female or male).
We have counsellors dedicated to working with LGBTIQ students who are seeking to explore and affirm their gender. We make space for you to discuss your gender and how this affects you through counselling and social groups (see below). The Genderbread Person website offers online tools for exploring your gender.
The nuts and bolts of transitioning
Being Trans or Gender Diverse (TGD) does not have a playbook of how you express yourself, how you transition (if at all) or how long the process will take. Transitioning, or affirming your gender is a different experience for everyone.
La Trobe University’s Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria has an excellent Gender Questioning resource that you might find helpful.
Our dedicated Queer Counsellors can help you navigate coming out as TGD. You can talk about identity issues such as your name and pronouns, whether or not, and to what degree to physically transition, as well as the discrimination and bullying that can sometimes come from other people’s perception of TGD people. But remember the University has policies that prevent students and staff being discriminated against on the basis of gender and/or sexuality.
You can also visit the Transgender Victoria website and the Zoe Belle Gender Centre for more info on transitioning. Monash Health in Melbourne also has medical and psychological services for TGD people. You can talk to your LGBTIQ specific counsellor (see below) for more local support.
Changing your name and gender in University records
The gender you register for University may not necessarily match your affirmed gender. You can change your name and gender in University records, but beware there may be unintended consequences.
Changing your name and/or gender in the University’s records is not the same as legally changing your name. The University is subject to government reporting obligations. If your name and/or gender are not changed with all government agencies with whom you have dealings, changing it in University records may have unexpected negative consequences. For example, Centrelink payments of student support may be interrupted if University records no longer match your records with Centrelink. Carefully consider the potential negative consequences if this change is not made consistently with all government agencies with whom you have dealings.
Your new name and/or gender will appear in our student information database and on future academic documents. However your previous name and/or gender will be maintained in our database and in other records such as previous existing electronic and paper records.
Supporting a TGD friend
If a friend has recently told you about questioning their gender, you are more than likely already a supportive friend. They probably see you as someone supportive of them in their affirmed gender. Coming out is often a time that brings great anxiety for TGD people, fearing they will be rejected by family and friends, so reacting in a way that is supportive can make a bid difference to their experience.
Here are three easy things you can do to make your friend feel supported:
- Ask about pronouns: sometimes people who are TGD will like to be referred to by particular pronouns that may not necessarily match how you perceive them, or how you have referred to them before. Sometimes saying ‘they’ instead of ‘him’, or ‘him’ instead of ‘her’, can be tricky. It’s ok if you slip up, most TGD people will easily pick up an honest mistake.
- Offer to accompany them to the shops to buy clothes that better match their gender, or to a Minus 18 Same Sex and Gender Diverse Formal, or to a social group in their area.
- Take the assumption challenge: sometimes in trying to be supportive we will do or say things that aren’t supportive because of our assumptions, upbringing, or what we see on TV. Take some time to think about how you see TGD people. Your family of origin, the media, including social media, friends and other people may have said things that make you feel negative towards TGD people. Challenge these views by being the best you can be for your TGD friend.
'I once got a congratulatory high-five for referencing it (being gender non-binary) in class without apparent fear, which was a nice little confidence boost.' Riley - Student at Bendigo Campus.