Oxford University in England has decided to change its strict academic dress code to accommodate transgender students – meaning that males will be able to attend classes wearing skirts, while women can opt for a suit and tie.
"The regulations have been amended to remove any reference to gender, in response to concerns raised by Oxford University Student Union that the existing regulations did not serve the interests of transgender students," the university stated.
The changes came after concerns were voiced that the current dress code does not give transgender students a way to express themselves, the Guardian reported. The new rule goes into effect as early as next week.
Oxford's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer society (LGBTQ Soc) was first to present the motion, which was passed by the school's student union. The change applies to all formal occasions, including taking exams, where students will now be able to dress in ceremonial clothing that is not exclusive to one gender.
"In future there will be no need for transgender students to cross-dress to avoid being confronted by invigilators or disciplined during their exam," said Jess Pumphrey, LGBTQ Soc's executive officer. Pumphrey added that the change was important because it will allow transgender students more peace of mind during exams and remove some of the stress that comes with taking tests.
"This is an extremely positive step, and indeed long overdue," shared Oxford University LGBTQ Soc President Simone Webb with the Oxford Student.
"I am of the opinion that it is possible to keep elements of tradition in this way while making them unrestrictive to trans students, genderqueer students, or students who wish to wear a different sub fusc to that which they'd be expected to wear," Webb added.
Oxford University's "sub fusc" rules required male students to wear a dark suit and socks, black shoes, white bow tie and a plain white shirt and collar under their black gowns, while women were restricted to dark skirt or trousers, a white blouse, black stockings and shoes and a black ribbon tied in a bow at the neck.
While it was still possible under the old laws for transgender students to wear a different uniform, they had to seek special permission from the university.