Male students at Oxford University are now able to wear skirts to exams and other formal occasions after increasing pressure from the university's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer Society.
"The world, or Oxford's bit of it, has gone mad," wrote peterbj7 on the Telegraph blog in response to the ruling, and some critics agree.
The elite university used to have a long-standing policy requiring students to wear proper gender-appropriate academic clothing, also known as subfusc, to exams and certain occasions. However, that tradition was attacked by the transgender community of the school.
The change comes in the wake of a motion put forward by the LGBTQ Society which was passed by the students' union earlier this year. The motion forced the university's council, headed by Vice-Chancellor Andrew Hamilton, to remove any gender distinction from all references related to the university's clothing regulations.
The rule change now allows male students to wear skirts and stockings while also permitting female students to wear suits and bow ties, according to the rules, which came into force on Aug. 4.
"The regulations have been amended to remove any reference to gender, in response to concerns raised by Oxford University Student Union that regulations did not serve the interests of transgender students," according to the statement provided by the University.
Before the rule change, transgender students who wanted to wear clothes designated for the opposite sex had to seek special written approval.
Jess Pumphrey, LGBTQ Society's executive officer, said the change will make a number of students feel more comfortable by allowing them to wear the garments of any gender they choose.
The new rules are also drawing negative reactions from former students like Ann Widdecombe, who graduated from Lady Margaret Hall in 1972 and feels that the risk of fighting the LGBTQ Society on the issue would be too great.
"In my day, it would have been unthinkable – men were men and women were women, and we dressed accordingly," she told Daily Mail. "But I think the university is just saving itself from a silly row, and from that point of view I'm on their side. Why go courting a silly row when they don't need one?"
"Cambridge Proctors would never have concerned themselves with the gender type of proper academic dress 50 years ago," posted ombzhch, commenting on the prevalence of transgender communities in the U.K.