In a first for the Higher Education Sector, the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) has endorsed the College’s efforts to promote trans equality. This means that Imperial will be able to display the GIRES logo alongside those of Stonewall, Athena SWAN and the Two Ticks scheme to demonstrate its commitment to celebrating diversity and eliminating all forms of discrimination across the College.
Imperial is striving towards a more supportive and tolerant environment where diversity is embraced – to the benefit of all within our community– Professor James Stirling
GIRES is a charity which aims to improve the lives of trans people by changing attitudes, challenging discrimination and improving the way that trans people are treated in society.
Founded by Bernard and Terry Reed in 1997, after they helped their trans daughter to win a landmark sex discrimination case, the charity has 59 corporate members, including Imperial.
Bernard Reed OBE, co-founder of GIRES, said: “We are delighted that Imperial has made a public commitment to end prejudice and discrimination against trans people and to improve the support it offers to trans members of its community. As the first university to make public its partnership with GIRES, we hope that Imperial will set an important example to the rest of the Higher Education sector about the importance of embracing and celebrating diversity.”
“Improving the support that organisations offer to trans people is vital – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because cultivating an inclusive, supportive environment is crucial in attracting and retaining the very best talent from the widest possible talent pool.”
GIRES delivered the College’s annual Diversity Lecture on Wednesday 25 June, entitled ‘Gender variance from Dark Ages to Enlightenment’.
During this lecture GIRES’ current Chair, Celia Macleod, shared her personal story of transition and her experiences of beginning to live as a woman whilst holding a senior role in the NHS.
Terry Reed joined her to discuss her own family’s journey, as well as the disempowering impact that the classification of ‘transsexualism’ as a psychiatric illness had upon trans people.
Imperial’s Provost Professor James Stirling said: “Imperial has made great strides in championing Equality and Diversity in recent years; however there is still much work to be done. We need to do more to strengthen institutional awareness and understanding of equality, and high profile events, such the annual Diversity Lecture, provide the perfect forum for us to do this.”
“GIRES is a tremendously important organisation, whose primary mission is to improve the circumstances in which trans people live by changing the way they are treated by society. By working with them to improve the support we offer to our trans colleagues, Imperial is striving towards a more supportive and tolerant environment where diversity is embraced – to the benefit of all within our community.”
One Imperial staff member said: “As a member of staff with transgendered background, I am very pleased to see the College making this public commitment to support its transgender staff, especially as it is the first university to do so in this way. As a global leader in education and research, I firmly believe that it is only right that Imperial should be setting the standard for Equality and Diversity too.”
“This is an important step and I welcome it wholeheartedly. However more work is still needed to ensure that the whole Equalities and Diversity message, which is core to our Imperial Expectations statement, pervades all levels of the College. It is crucial that all managers are aware of their responsibilities in this area, so that all members of staff, including those who are transgendered, can be assured of a working environment that is supportive and free from prejudice.”