Process for Managing Gender Reassignment
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This guide outlines the steps to take if someone in the DARS user community learns that a supporter is undergoing, or has undergone, a gender reassignment process.
In the event that a person whose details are on DARS informs any DARS user that they are undergoing, or have undergone, gender reassignment, then there is an obligation under the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to change DARS so that it does not disclose their former gender. Failure to do so is a criminal offence under the Act, and is punishable by a fine of up to £5,000.
When we receive a notification from an alumnus/alumna or other person on DARS that they are undergoing, or have undergone, gender reassignment, then we will first check that they are a current student. If they are, then we will advise them that we cannot make changes to DARS, since most key changes will be overwritten by Student Systems, and that therefore they should communicate with Student Administration first. If they are not a current student, we will make the following changes:
- We will record the previous name as an Alias in DARS, in a gender-neutral manner. In practice this means recording initials of forenames, rather than full forenames – so we would record “J M Smith” as an Alias, with a type of ‘Former Name’, where the name of the person had been John Michael Smith.
- We will not record any information in the Maiden name (also known as the Former family name) field. If there is any information in the Maiden name field, we will remove it.
- We will change the gender field.
- We will review the email addresses held on DARS. We will retain any email addresses that do not indicate gender (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). We will delete any email addresses that indicate historic gender (e.g. email@example.com). We will delete such email addresses even if this results in us having no email addresses for the person.
- We will make any other updates that are required as requested by the person (e.g. they may have given us a new name, new email address etc).
- We will check that all Name Formats (addressees and salutations) do not disclose the former name or gender, and delete any that do.
- We will review notes, documentation and comments fields on the record, in case these contain references to past gender (e.g. I spoke with Mr Smith, and he said…). Such fields will be edited to be gender neutral (e.g. I spoke with the alum, who said….).
- We will review file attachments, e.g. word documents containing letters, .msg files containing attached emails. Wherever practical, these will be edited to be gender neutral, or deleted.
- There is no need for us to review relationships, since these are all gender-neutral already (e.g. Aunt/Uncle).
- We will not change or remove either the college affiliation(s) or the matriculation year – even if the combination is such that past gender can be deduced.
- We will not record a note of being informed of gender reassignment, nor, if one is mentioned or submitted, will we record the fact that a gender reassignment certificate has been mentioned or submitted.
- We will review any URLs on the record, in order to determine if these reveal or might reveal the person’s historic gender or transgender status. Any such URLs will be removed. For the avoidance of doubt, this includes any webpages/sites the person may have authored themselves.
- In the event that a person is from a non-DARS college, we can offer to contact that college on the alum’s behalf, and if their department is not using DARS, we can offer to contact that department on the alum’s behalf. See the sample email below.
- We will ask the alum if they are currently attending, or have in the past attended, a course run by the Department of Continuing Education. If they have, we can offer to contact Continuing Education on the alum’s behalf.
- We will ask the alum if they have, or have had, a Bodleian reader’s card. If they have, we can offer to contact the Bodleian library on the alum’s behalf.
- When communicating with the alum about the changes, we may need to explain that the above is the DARS policy. Other parts of the University (e.g. the Academic Records Office, who issue Degree Certificates) may have different policies – for example, may require sight of a Gender Reassignment Certificate.
Comments and explanatory notes
- Point 8 addresses file attachments. It notes that we will, wherever practical, edit these. We might also need to delete attachments if they cannot be edited (for example, .msg files). There may also be rare cases, for example, where the attachment is a legal document, where the document cannot be edited and should not be deleted. In such cases, advice should be sought from the Head of DARS Support Centre.
Redacted sample communication from an alum, and a sample reply
Dear University Alumni Office,
I am about to apply for a Gender Reassignment Certificate (GRC) consequent on my gender reassignment treatment. How does this affect the records you hold on me under my former (male) name and details?
Formerly John Michael Smith, XYZ College 1980 to 1983. Matric: 1980; BA(Hons) Physics.
Jane Mary Smith since 14 April 2016 by Deed Poll.
Dear Ms Smith,
As far as the alumni database goes, we change our records when someone informs us that they have changed gender, whether or not they have a GRC. I have checked the database and your record is fully correct. We have deleted information which could indicate gender reassignment, so for example, your previous name is recorded as J M Smith, not John Smith. Also, any notes of letters or interactions have been checked to make sure that the language in them is gender neutral. I can give you more details on exactly which fields get changed if you would like?
Your department, Physics, uses the same alumni database as the central University, so the changes I have made will apply to any communications you receive from them.
Your college, XYZ College, does not use the same alumni database as the central University. Would you like me to ask them to update their records with your correct name?
I hope this helps, but do feel free to get in touch if you have more questions.
- DARS supports the gender-neutral Title ‘Mx’, which can be used if the person requests it.
- DARS supports gender values of Male, Female and Unknown. It cannot support other gender values such as ‘Withheld’ – however, the value ‘Unknown’ can be used.