Transgender policy

Pronouns

He/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/theirs

You may wonder why these reference words are mentioned in some Ghent University e-mail signatures. These pronouns indicate how the author of the email wishes to be addressed. Every day, we exchange e-mails with colleagues and students, and we assume the correct title ('sir' or 'madam') based on the first name of our contact person. We also automatically select the corresponding pronouns ('he' or 'she'). But sometimes, our assumption is incorrect. Consider, for example, confusion concerning people with a unisex name such as Kim or Chris. Or unfamiliar or foreign names that you do not immediately recognize, such as Efrata or Nisba. It goes without saying that every person likes to be addressed with the correct pronouns. This is no different for trans and non-binary people. Typically, transgender people prefer the same binary pronouns as cisgender people, so you simply refer to trans men using 'he/him/his' and trans women with 'she/her/her'.

Individuals with a non-binary gender identity (i.e. those who do not identify as male or female) sometimes prefer to be addressed with gender-neutral pronouns such as 'they/them/theirs'. For example: "They will be joining our meeting later because no meeting request was sent to them. However, they have canceled another meeting in their agenda so they can join us later”.

[the term 'trans' refers to the umbrella term for identities outside cisgender norms]

Policy

In its meeting on Friday January 17, 2020, the Executive Board approved the new Transgender Action Plan. Ghent University wants to pursue a proactive transgender policy that puts an end to any form of discrimination. The policy strives for non-discriminatory procedures and regulations, gender-inclusive infrastructure, and signalling. Additionally, the policy calls for greater efforts at communication and raising awareness

The Faculty of Law and Criminology has developed an additional proactive transgender policy that focusses on more than the administrative position of trans people. After all, research shows that trans people are often confronted with misunderstanding, discrimination, and various forms of psychological, physical and material violence.

Raising awareness

  • Every year, on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia, Ghent University raises the rainbow flag on all campuses. On March 31, the International Day of Transgender Visibility, we raise the pink-blue-white trans flag.
  • Ghent University organizes monthly, afternoon lectures on diversity in which trans themes are regularly discussed. You can register via www.ugent.be/middaglezingen.
  • Ghent University sponsors the students' float during annual Pride Parades in Belgium (Youth For Equality).
  • Ghent University's non-discrimination statement was revised with the addition of 'gender identity' and 'gender expression' as new, legally protected categories. In the future, disciplinary regulations will also be linked to the non-discrimination statement, which will be enforceable under the Education and Examination Code and the Employment Regulations. In this way, all students and employees will be protected against discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, gender expression, and transition status.
  • Students who want to strengthen their diversity skills can enroll in the Master Program Gender & Diversity. This course - taught in Dutch - offers an introduction to current theory and research within trans studies among other fields.
  • Employees and teachers can request a trans awareness training tailored to their department. Will you soon be welcoming a transgender colleague and would like to become more knowledgeable? Or do you have a transgender student in class and you want to offer diversity-sensitive education? Contact trans@ugent.be.
  • Ghent University has developed eye-catching buttons where students and staff can express their solidarity with trans and non-binary fellow students and colleagues or visitors. An original way to organize an event, conference or reception inclusively and to address everyone with the pronouns of her/his/their choice. You can order the buttons here.

Wellbeing

Confidential advisors/Trustpunt

The wellbeing of students and staff is a priority for Ghent University. As such, tackling transgressive and inappropriate behavior such as bullying, violence, and sexual harassment at work is a focal point. Both students and employees can turn to the Trustpunt for a listening ear. Additionally, each faculty has one or more confidential advisors.

Networking

Ghent University organizes networking opportunities centered on transgender issues. Experienced experts, researchers, activists, sympathizers, etc. with an interest in the topic can talk to each other during informal gatherings. Ghent University organizes Round Table discussions for students, and has a network for employees. Register via trans@ugent.be for information about upcoming meetings.

Sports

Ghent University supports an extensive range of sports and believes it is important that all employees and students can exercise in an enjoyable, hygienic and safe way. Communal changing and shower rooms are used in the GUSB sports complex and at the swimming pool. If you would like access to a separate dressing room, you can request one at GUSB's office. The brochure, information about the facilities, and the opening hours can be found here (website only in Dutch).

20-day service exemption

Employees in transition can receive twenty days of service exemption over the course of their entire career for medical care and counselling relating to their transition. This measure took effect on April 1, 2021.

Gender inclusive communication

Ghent University considers trans friendly and gender-neutral language in its communications critical. For example, it is important not to refer to the birth name (deadname) and previous gender of a trans person. Therefore, the Gender Inclusive Communication Working Group is working on a user-friendly screening tool. Pending the completion of the screening tool, you can report non-essential gender-linked references ('dear sir/madam', 'welcome ladies and gentlemen') to trans@ugent.be. You can also contact us for gender-inclusive feedback on your written texts such as your job advertisements, correspondence, regulations, policy texts, press releases, teaching materials, and brochures. Additionally, you can find writing tips from the Transgender Infopunt here (website only in Dutch).

Change of first name

Use of chosen first name for Ghent University students

Students can indicate, in addition to their current legal name, a first name of their own choosing. This will be used on all non-official documents before a legal name change is completed. This includes non-official correspondence, student ID card, e-mail address, and class lists. The student in question can also use their chosen first name for exams. However, their student number will always be linked to their legal name, which will be used on diplomas. Official documents such as diplomas can only be amended after a legal name change is completed. The gender registered in Ghent University's databases can only be administratively changed after your gender has been officially changed on your national identity card. However, it is possible to change or omit a form of address ('Miss', 'Ms', 'Sir').

Procedure:

If you would like to change your first name during your studies and/or wish to change your form of address, please send an email with your student number, your chosen first name and your preferred form of address to trans@ugent.be. You will then receive a new e-mail address and a new student ID card with your chosen first name. The correct form of address will then be used in correspondence. Please note, however, that your login name cannot be changed for the time being. When your legal name change has been completed and you have a new national identity card, you can report this to the student administration (website in Dutch only). You can also contact them after graduation if you want to amend your diploma with your new name.

Use of chosen first name for Ghent University employees

Employees can provide, in addition to their current legal name, a first name of their own choosing. This will be used on all non-official documents before a legal name change is completed. This includes unofficial correspondence, staff ID card, and e-mail address. Official documents such as employment contracts can only be amended after a legal name change is completed. The gender registered in Ghent University's databases can only be administratively changed after your gender has been officially changed on your national identity card. However, it is possible to change or omit a form of address ('Ms', 'Sir').

Procedure:

If you would like to change your first name during your professional career at Ghent University and/or would you like to change your form of address, please send an email with your chosen first name and your preferred form of address to trans@ugent.be. You will then receive a new e-mail address and a new staff ID card with your chosen first name. The correct form of address will then be used in correspondence. You can enter your chosen name via Apollo, which will then be used in the telephone book (go to the "Personnel" tab, select the "My Details" tab, go to "My Personal Details" and click "Change Nickname"). Please note: your login name cannot be changed for the time being. When your legal name change has been completed and you have a new national identity card, you can report this to helpdesk@ugent.be.

Gender neutral bathrooms

The Department of Building and Facility Management (DGFB) has included prescriptions in its Design Guidelines for the design of gender-neutral sanitary facilities in new construction projects and during extensive renovations. Note: while the needs of the target group are taken into account, building projects must always be in compliance with current regulations on privacy and labor legislation (CODEX/ARAB). The layout, dimensions, signage, surface area, accessibility, costs, and technical HVAC challenges will all be considered. Universal Design and Sustainability are the starting points. You can see the initial results of the new Design Guidelines in the Dunantlaan buildings and in the Technicum.

Research in the spotlight

Ghent University has many transgender scholars. Moreover, a lot of groundbreaking scientific research on transgender topics is being conducted at Ghent University. Discover the research fields of these PhD students:

Transawareness at Ghent University: all genders welcome?
Prof. Joz Motmans talks about a gender-inclusive learning environment and workplace, gender-sensitive communication, coming-out etiquette, and Ghent University's trans policy.

Additional information

For all your questions on transgender issues, you can contact the Transgender Infopunt at www.transgenderinfo.be, or call them at 0800 96316. Their website (Dutch only) contains information about support groups, healthcare, and your rights as a trans person.

The Flemish Government published a Dutch language brochure, "Alles wat je altijd al wilde weten over transgenders", containing basic information for anyone interested in this topic

If you have any questions or if you want to help someone, be sure to visit www.gendervonk.be (website only in Dutch) where you will find tips and tools for improving your mental wellbeing and assisting others.

The Trans Working Group (established in May of 2019) consists of:

  • Prof. Joz Motmans
  • Dr. Tine Brouckaert
  • Drs. Pieter Cannoot
  • Drs. Thomas Donald Jacobs
  • Misha Verdonck
  • Marieken De Munter

Students, researchers, sympathizers, and employees who want to contribute to Ghent University's trans policy at are welcome to join this working group. This can be done upon request by sending an email to trans@ugent.be.


Helpdesk

Questions, suggestions or remarks?

trans@ugent.be