Content Warning: this page includes mentions of gatekeeping & oldnaming.
Transitioning as a Cambridge Student
If you have decided to change your name, title or gender markers as part of transition, you will need to get your college and a few other admin staff to help with updating this information throughout the University system. Plenty of students transition while at Cambridge and it probably won't be the first time staff who deal with these changes have helped a trans student. However, if you do have difficulties, you can get in touch with CUSU LGBT+ and we can help sort it out.
Updating your records
Your college tutorial office should act as your liaison to all other parts of the university that need to know about your change of name, title and gender marker. While they have been given the relevant information, they may still not know what to do; but this isn’t something you have to deal with on your own. The CUSU LGBT+ Trans Rep is always available to provide help, and has had to deal with a lot of these processes personally. Other people to contact for support include your college LGBT+ rep, the CUSU Welfare Rep, and the CUSU LGBT+ Welfare Rep.
The University's Equality and Diversity Department have recently released updated guidance on the processes surrounding students' transition in Cambridge. This can be found here.
The process of changing your records is started by liaising with your college tutorial office; if need be you can also liaise directly with the Student Registry. Records about you are held in a number of ways, which are detailed below.You may find you want to address some of them individually. In all cases though, start out by e-mailing your college tutorial office who should be able to sort most of this out. If you want to change your legal name on CamSIS you will need to present a deed poll, or passport or birth certificate in your new name. If you wish to change your gender marker on CamSIS you will need to write a letter detailing that this is the appropriate gender marker to use. You can change your preferred name on CamSIS without official documentation. Here’s a list of items to consider:
Your CamSIS (Student Information System) records can be changed to contain the correct name, title and gender. CamSIS holds two names: legal and preferred. Your preferred name can be changed at any time at your request. It is best to do this in writing as this also onstitutes confirmation that you wish to change your gender marker. A useful phrase to include is “in accordance with HESA guidance on records of trans students” – up until recently, it was policy that trans students should have the sex they were assigned at birth listed (this was only ever patchily enforced!). If you have a non-binary gender identity, as of August 1st 2012 it is possible for your gender to be recorded as “other”. These records can be changed at any time. The only official documentation you will need is a deed poll or form of ID in your new name if you wish to change your legal name on CamSIS. (This is the name in which your degree certificate must be issued.)
Your CRSid can be changed to contain your correct initials. (Your CRSid is a login identity based on your initials, which also corresponds to your university email address.) Try to get written confirmation that your college & the university computing service have taken note of this. These records can be changed at any time but if you change your CRSid after arrival at Cambridge you will need to make sure all relevant departments etc. are aware of the change, since your old CRSid will no longer work.
Your university card can be changed to have the correct name – and, if you’d like, an updated photo. Provided you do not lose your card, you can request updates at any time and be provided with a new card free of charge on handing in your old card. If you state that you are trans they will happily update your photo, but if you don’t wish to disclose you can tell them that the photo is ‘no longer an accurate likeness’. Get in touch with your University Card Rep to request a new card.
Your CamCORS records may need to be updated to reflect any changes in name or pronouns.
If you wish to inform people like supervisors or tutors yourself then it is recommended that you make this clear to the college, including who and when, so that they don’t do it automatically. You should also be able to get a list of who has been told but again it is recommended that you ask for this at the outset.
Unfortunately there are some known pitfalls you might run into. We are working on developing documents containing suitable guidance for the relevant departments and things are rapidly getting better, but in the meantime please be aware that:
Your college will almost certainly wish to see a deed poll (and to keep a copy on their records) in order to request a change of name from CamSIS. This is not a requirement to get your preferred name changed, which can be done at a simple request. Unfortunately you will require a deed poll or similar for your degree certificate to be made in your new name since it is a legal document, but your correct name can still be read out at graduation provided you inform them of this in advance.
It is possible they may also ask you to provide them with a copy of your GRC – it is illegal for them to request a GRC, and is in any case irrelevant.
Your college may be either unaware or unwilling to request appropriate changes.
If any of these happens to you please contact firstname.lastname@example.org so we can compile reports and help sort it out.
As of 2013, the dress codes for University graduation ceremonies are gender-neutral, allowing you to pick either one of two options. Dress codes for college matriculations, dinners and other formal occasions vary, but CUSU LGBT+ are pressing for these to be made gender-neutral. Generally speaking though, as long as you are looking equally smart as everyone else, it tends to be okay. It is illegal for your college or department to discriminate against you on the basis of being trans and if you have any trouble, do not hesitate to get in touch.
Support from CUSU and CUSU LGBT+
If you have difficulties or concerns about any of the above, please get in touch with any of the following. We are here to help; we will listen, be non-judgemental, support in any way we can but also not enforce anything. It is your transition and we will make sure you stay in control!
Both of the above are student volunteers with trans (in the case of the trans rep) or otherwise LGB+ lived experience. They are very keen and willing to help wherever they can. They are however not full-time employees or trained counsellors or mediators.
The CUSU Welfare and Rights officer is a full-time sabbatical officer, employed and trained by CUSU to look after student welfare and rights. They are not always someone with trans or otherwise LGB+ experience, but do liaise with CUSU LGBT+ and do have students' interests at heart.
Please feel free to contact any of us in any case, just so you know there’s someone behind you while you're going through all of this. Other ways you can keep in touch with the community are via the various CUSU LGBT+ mailing lists, and by coming along to trans coffee meets (every Saturday during term time).