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Rock the Cis-tem 2019

About the Campaign:

‘Rock the Cis-tem’ is being held between the 11th – 17th November and is here to challenge systematic oppression faced by trans and non-binary people. We want to highlight issues members in this community face and tackle them head-on to create a more accepting campus. During this week, there will be several events for people from the community and for the wider student body to attend, with the aim to increase awareness, educate, and gain an understanding of the issues faced by people within our student body.

The campaign ‘Rock the Cis-tem’ refers to the notion of change and stepping outside the cis-normative narratives commonly portrayed in wider society.



Using and understanding the correct terminology is important, not only does this help you support the trans and non-binary community it helps promote respect, tolerance, and acceptance for gender diversity. It could be considered the first step in education and tackling stigma and oppression.

  • Gender: consists of interacting gender identity and gender expression. Gender is not a simple binary (man or woman) but rather a spectrum of identities. Gender is not directly related to sex.
  • Gender Identity: a person’s inner and deep-held sense of their gender. Man or woman is usually seen as the default; however, gender identity is a spectrum which encompasses a wide range of valid identities. For example, people can identify somewhere within the spectrum (i.e. non-binary) or outside it completely (i.e. agender).
  • Gender Expression: this is the self-expression and presentation of an individual. For example names, pronouns, clothing and styles, and behaviour. The expression is subjective, changing over time and within cultures. Society has previously identified these characteristics as ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’. However, these cultural manifestations of what constitutes gender ideals and what one person considers ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ could vary by individual.
  • Transgender: this is an umbrella term for those people whose gender differs from assigned gender at birth. Transgender can also be shortened to ‘trans’. This term is used as an adjective.
  • Transsexual: This is NOT an umbrella term and can be offensive to some transgender people. This is a much older and typically outdated term However; some individuals still use this term to identify themselves.
  • Non-Binary:  an umbrella term for people’s gender identity and/or gender expression that falls outside man or woman. There are a variety of non-binary identities, with differences and nuances to these gender identities. Many non-binary people use they/them pronouns or alternative neopronouns. Non-binary is a typically ‘western’ term, however, there are cultural alternatives to gender identities, for example Hijra (third gender community in India) and two-spirt (used by some Indigenous North Americans). Finally, not all non-binary people identify as trans.
  • Deadname/Birthname: this the name previously assigned to a person who has since changed their name. A person should not ask or use a trans or non-binary persons dead name, as this is disrespectful.
  • Transitioning:  this process is a personal journey that is different for many trans and non-binary people. Transitioning can include many different social, legal, or medical steps, depending on the person. For example: coming out, using a different name and pronouns, altering legal documents, hormone therapy, and surgery. Transitioning should not be focused on one or more of these processes as it is based on what an individual feels appropriate for them.
  • Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS): this refers to a medically supervised process of surgical changes to a person body. These surgeries can form part of someone’s medical transition, however, this is not a requirement, some trans people will have some procedures and not others, while others might not feel they need GCS.
  • Gender Dysphoria: the feeling of discomfort and/or distress associated with a person whose gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth.

This section explores a range of oppressive and prejudice behaviours that greatly impact the trans and non-binary community. While you might not be personally affected, there are wider societal repercussions. These behaviours increase the incidences of hate crimes, deteriorating mental health and wellbeing within the community, and lack of support with increased intolerance and exclusion.


Transphobia is the intolerance of gender diversity and manifests as prejudice and abuse towards transgender and non-binary people. It stems from the notion that ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are comparable, however, this is not the case. Here are some useful pages from Galop (LGBT+ anti-violence charity) and Stonewall (on reporting hate crime)


It is the prejudice, cultural oppression, violence, and discrimination directed towards transgender women, and those that are more ‘feminine’ presenting. It can manifest in invalidating trans experiences, and not viewing transgender women in the same way as cisgender women. It links to the judgement of all women based on a set of societal and cultural standards.


Cissexism is as a result of systematic oppression faced by transgender people. It usually refers to a set of acts that privilege cisgender people over transgender people. Cissexism might be less ‘visible’ and ‘subtle’ to cisgender people; however, it is still damaging to the trans community. Furthermore, assuming that cisgender is ‘normal’ and being transgender is the opposite reinforces prejudice behaviours.

Examples (TW – cis-sexism and transphobia):

These are examples of behaviours that can be discriminatory towards trans and non-binary people, these should not be used or tolerated. The first step in becoming a better ally is recognising these and speaking out against them.

  • Referring to sanitary products as ‘feminine products’ or expressing that ‘women only have periods’ dismisses trans and non-binary people that use these products.
  • Greetings such as ‘ladies and gentlemen’ can make non-binary people feel othered.
  • The idea that transgender and non-binary people should fit cisgender beauty standards to be ‘accepted’ by society.
  • Invasive questions about somebodies ‘real’ name (leading to deadnaming), ‘pronouns’, or their transitioning process.
  • You should NOT use the terms ‘sex-change’, ‘pre-op’ or ‘post-op’. This increased emphasis and suggests that trans people must need surgery to transition.
  • Phrases referring to ‘biologically’ or ‘genetically’ dismisses trans and non-binary people. This reinforces the concept that gender and sex are comparable.
  • Words such as ‘tranny’ and ‘she-male’, THESE ARE DEROGATORY! Not only are these extremely transphobic, they dismiss transgender people completely.
  • Referring to cis-gender men or women as ‘real’ not only reinforces sexist and gendered stereotypes, it invalidates and dehumanises transgender and non-binary people.

Here we will explore combatting ‘normalised’ attitudes, and ways that the student body can better support the trans and non-binary community.

  1. Use the correct name and pronouns.
  2. Listen to trans and non-binary people and their experiences.
  3. Stop and think about the language you use, self-reflection = self-development!
  4. Educate yourself rather than expecting trans and non-binary people to do this for you. It’s okay not to know/understand everything, but take steps to help yourself learn more.
  5. Challenge anti-transgender attitudes in all spaces, including LGBT spaces!
  6. Being an ally relies on patterns of behaviour, you can’t just brand yourself an ally without doing anything to help and elevate the voices of the trans and non-binary community around you.

Finally, while you might not understand everything, respect others and embrace difference. Here are some tips from GLAAD (‘Tip for Allies of Transgender People).

These following resources are useful for trans and non-binary students, and those that what to increase their personal understanding of these marginalised groups. There are important support resources from external groups and NUSU. 

NUSU and University-Wide Resources:

Trans Awareness Week 2018/2019: https://www.nusu.co.uk/news/article/6516/NUSU-Trans-Awareness/. This is information from last year’s campaign. Furthermore, there are a series of short videos that explores a wide range of issues.

LGBT+ Officer: Tobias Lawrence - email: lgbt.union@ncl.ac.uk . The elected liberation officer, here to help and guide LGBT+ identifying students on campus.

Marginalised Genders Officer: Eleasha Haslam – email gender.union@ncl.ac.uk . The elected liberation officer, to help and guide groups of students from all marginalised gender groups (women, transgender, and non-binary students.

External Resources:

Mermaids UK: Charity that supports children and young people from the trans and gender non-conforming community, and their families. https://www.mermaidsuk.org.uk/

Sparkle – The National Transgender Charity: Promote a positive message and developing an understanding of the trans community within wider society to challenge stigma https://www.sparkle.org.uk/

Gendered Intelligence: Increase awareness of gender diversity and supporting trans people aged 8-25. http://genderedintelligence.co.uk/about-us/our-aims

GLAAD – Glossary of Terms: https://www.glaad.org/reference/transgender This resources, explains a number of terms and what phrases should be avoided.

Be – North East: Based in Newcastle upon Tyne. This network helps improve the lives of trans and non-binary people through peer support groups and social events. https://be-north.org.uk/