In response to ‘Sex Matters’ letter

Dear Network Members, 

You may have become aware of a letter by a collective of academics operating under the name ‘Sex Matters’ written to the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission demanding a “Reindorf Review” for the higher education sector. While we are once again loath to draw attention to these beliefs, we also recognise that silence does not make our position clear to those in our community most affected by these beliefs and the ways in which these beliefs are expressed. This statement is to reinforce our solidarity to those affected and that we will continue to work in ways which support our trans and non-binary colleagues and students. 

This letter paints a very biased view of the current situation regarding academic freedom in UK Higher Education institutions and depicts those academics who share ‘gender critical’ beliefs as victims of ‘trans rights activists’. There is no reflection on why students and staff might feel motivated to protest those academics actively promoting their ‘gender critical’ beliefs and a failure to acknowledge the harms experienced by the trans and non-binary members of these communities as a consequence of discriminatory expressions of these beliefs. For clarity, the Staff Pride Network committee would like to make it known that we do not endorse this viewpoint of the situation. It is clear to us how harmful ‘gender critical’ beliefs are to the trans and non-binary members of our community, and that reductive, biologically essentialist attitudes towards sex are also damaging to everyone. No-one thrives if they are forced to adopt an identity based on binary sex characteristics, while trans and non-binary members of our community are especially and significantly harmed by this.  

The letter claims that the Stonewall Diversity Champions Scheme promotes misleading information about the Equality Act which is simply false. It also criticises Athena SWAN for encouraging HEIs to monitor gender and not sex. We support the monitoring of gender and of gender diversity in our institutions because it is far more realistic to learn about how our staff live their lives and how they move through the world as their lived gender identities rather than forcing staff to select a binary sex characteristic that may be wholly inaccurate and may force trans and non-binary members of staff to disclose sensitive private information about their gender history.  

We make no disagreement with the notion that a distinction can be made between sex and gender. Biological sex is a complex combination of anatomy, hormones and chromosomes that can result in a variety of sex characteristics in the human population. Gender is also a complex combination of the ways in which we experience and present our identities in a multi-gendered world. We reject the characterisation in the letter that there are UK Universities that impose a ‘radical gender orthodoxy’. This appears to be an attempt to stigmatise those who do not conform to an antiquated belief system that promotes a binary understanding of sex. We also recognise that sex is a protected characteristic. The guidance around the Equality Act as to how sex is determined is broad, it does not provide a precise definition of sex and it does not specify that sex is rooted in ‘biological sex’. 

We are concerned to note the names of 28 current and former University of Edinburgh staff as signatories of this letter, many of whom have a significant platform (through lectures, publications and other opportunities) to share ‘gender critical’ beliefs. While we recognise the freedom of those individuals to hold and express these beliefs, they should recognise that exercising freedom does have implications for other people, and that just as they are free to hold and express their beliefs, others are free to counter-argue or take other lawful action (such as protesting) in response. In particular, however, it is right to recognise that no one is free to express their beliefs, or their disagreement with others’ beliefs, in ways that are abusive or discriminatory. Members of our network have been deeply disturbed by this letter, as well as members of the student community. We extend our solidarity to those affected and will continue to work in ways which support our trans and non-binary colleagues and students.  

We hope that one day all staff and students are able to go about their lives feeling safe, respected and without harassment. 


The Staff Pride Network Committee

Adding Pronouns in the University Systems

Adding Pronouns to all University Systems

The quickest and easiest way is to add to ‘Preferred Name’ on either MyEd (for students) or People & Money for PhD students and staff:

People & Money

Personal Information > Personel Details 

People and Money Personal Details adding Pronouns






The university zoom accounts profiles support pronouns however don’t use it with the ‘Preferred Name’ change above unless you want it twice.

Click edit on the right of your name:

Zoom profile adding pronouns





















First Steps to Trans Inclusion; Stonewall Workshop 29/6/21

by Tracy Noden (she/her)

Tracy is an LGBTQ+ Advocate at the School of Law, SPN Events Team volunteer and staunch ally to LGBTQ+ people. She regularly attends SPN events and training and we are very grateful for her significant contribution to the Staff Pride Network.

This opened with two excellent speakers (Dr Kamilla Kamaruddin and Mia Weston).  There are so many challenges and negative stats, but both are hopeful for the upcoming, more inclusive, woke generation.  The sky is the limit for ally support, but at the very least speak up when trans people need support.  It’s vital to protect trans kids in schools.  The only two situations in which to ask for a trans person’s surgical status are medical and dating situations, and even then sensitivity is required.


Terminology exercise:


Trans is the term for everyone under that umbrella; there was much argument about using transsexual/transgender in the 90s, but the trans community has accepted trans as correct.


Not all trans people experience gender dysphoria, and those who experience it don’t necessarily experience it in the same way.


Cis is used because it’s the Latin prefix opposite to trans.  Referring to someone as non-trans rather than cis is also ok.


Understanding Identities:


Be more conscious of all the possible aspects of a person’s identity, and don’t assume ANYTHING based on any one of their aspects.


Provide a bin in men’s loo cubicles for the sake of trans males or nonbinary people who menstruate.


Consider any questions you might ask a trans person very carefully; why do you want to know, and is this the right situation in which to ask?


Trans experiences:


Trans bladder is a medical term that refers to bladder/urinary tract issues being more common among the trans community, possibly stemming from issues of trans people not feeling comfortable using a gendered public toilet.


Creating an Inclusive Environment:


There are so many benefits of enabling trans/nonbinary people to express themselves naturally.  There are so many potentially harmful effects for trans/nonbinary people who can’t express themselves freely.


The Equality Act 2010 requires workplaces to be inclusive.


Allies should disclose their pronouns at meetings and in signatures to encourage others to do so and help normalise this.


If you make a mistake, apologise, correct yourself and move on.  Listen first, ask if in doubt and always respect the individual’s choice.


Correct colleagues if needed (even if the trans person isn’t there), and show trans colleagues that their identity is being taken seriously.


Communicate to all staff that all gender expressions are welcome and valid.


Don’t comment on whether you feel a trans person could be more “convincing” or that they are “convincing”.  This is totally inappropriate!


Provide non-gendered toilets.


Recognise that non-gendered facilities allow everyone to access a safe space.


Communicate to staff that anyone can choose which facilities align with their gender identity and they can use them without fear of harassment or intimidation.  Understand the use and limits (eg not every trans person wants this) of gender-neutral facilities.


An accessible toilet is NOT a substitute for a non-gendered toilet.


Stonewall’s toilets are all non-gender, and every stall is fully private (each cubicle’s walls go all the way from the floor to the ceiling) and some have sinks/mirrors.


It’s great to have men’s, women’s and non-gendered toilets.


Create and highlight HR policies and employee support protocols.  These policies add to the support all staff might need rather than taking away existing protections.


Make opportunities and support available to trans people, and encourage trans colleagues to consider themselves for new opportunities.


Think about how your actions at work contribute to making sure that trans colleagues are represented and included.  Small things can make a big difference.


Being an Ally:


Be visible, and help create an inclusive workplace.


Don’t even passively accept transphobia and other bigotry.


Be visible, actively lead, be a role model (eg using correct pronouns even if others don’t).


Recommended Media (in bold and underlined if especially recommended):


Netflix:  Disclosure, Sense8, Pose, Tales of the City, Drag Race UK, Dragnificent


Other TV:  Veneno, Transparent, Euphoria


Films:  Paris is Burning, No Ordinary Man:  The Billy Tipton Story, Keyboard Fantasies, By Hook or by Crook, A Fantastic Woman, Something Must Break


Comedy/Performers:  Mae Martin, FOCitup, Travis Alabanza


Podcasts:  One from the Vault, Bad Gay, What the Trans?!, Translash, Marsha’s Plate


Activists:  Fox and Owl Fisher, Juno Dawson, Munroe Bergdorf, Kuchenga, Liv Little / GalDem, Lady Phyll, Kenny Ethan Jones


Books:  The Transgender Issue by Shon Faye, Transgender History by Susan Stryker, Lote by Shola von Reinhold and Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

Stonewall Empowerment Training

by David Radford

I attended the second part of the empowerment training course run by Stonewall on the 25th February. I was quite pleasantly surprised to see such a wide variety of attendees – everything from the academic sector to government departments and the banking sector.

It was notable that they reported within the workplace the LGBT community is not evenly treated, with 83% of lesbian and gay respondents of a survey stating that they felt their workplace was inclusive of them, while this number dropped to 52% for bi and only 48% of trans respondents. One thing which I was aware of but maybe not as actively aware of as I could be was discrimination and bias from within the LGBT+ community towards smaller or less visible groups.

The main aim of the workshop was to help identify the potential shortcomings and problems which arise from making network spaces for LGBT+ members of staff, which can create issues with cliques and exclusion, difficulties breaking into the group and issues of tokenism, and really highlighted the importance of diverse representation in the leadership and decision-making of groups as well as being open to criticism, willing to make changes and above all welcoming to newcomers.

For me, at least the main take-home message of this was to be aware of who I am interacting with and not to make assumptions when planning activities, as well as trying to engage others in decision making. That pub trip or countryside walk might be good for the morale of those attending, but it can cause other issues including financial, religious, family or accessibility problems, which can exclude a whole host of other people from attending.

Rainbow Office Hours

Now, more than ever, we need to talk. So the Staff pride Network has set up Rainbow Office Hours. A chance to make a connection with another LGBTQ+ staff member, or PG student, at the University.

Each month*, the last Friday of the month at 12-1pm, a few of our members will be standing by – check our website for details of who is available. Pick out someone you’d like to talk to, and drop them a line in Teams to check they’re not with someone else (i.e. a digital knock on the door!). After that, you two are free to chat about anything and everything. You might have specific things you want to talk about, or it might just be the pleasure of spending some time with someone like you.

We’re not a counselling or support service, but we do believe in the power of community – so why not take a moment to make that connection and feel just a wee bit better.

  • Sue Fletcher-Watson (she/her): My name is Sue. I’m a cis woman and I’m bisexual. I’ve been married for 15 years to a cis man and we have two kids – everyone assumes we’re a heterosexual couple. I am happy to chat about the experience of being bi (or pansexual) generally and specifically about bi-visibility and bi-phobia.
  • Karen Pinto-Csaszar (she/her): I’m Karen and I’m a Student Support Officer at Edinburgh College of Art. I am a cisgender straight woman who is part of the ‘BAME’ community (Latin-American) and am interested in chatting with staff and students of any orientation about (among many things) the contribution allies might make in supporting and learning from the LGBT+ community, including and perhaps especially potential allies who may feel interested but hesitant to get involved. I’m also interested in chatting about matters of the BAME community at large, including being a BAME expat!
  • Robert (Robbie) Court (he/him): I’m a PostDoc in the School of Informatics specialising in insect neurobiology. Label wise I am Gay, Autistic, Humanist, Dyslexic, Prosopagnosic and have ADHD. I’ve been with my ‘husband’ (not got round to the now available paperwork – one day) for over 25years, he came with a son who is nearly 30 now. Danielle Marlow (she/her): I’m Danielle and I’ve worked at the University for nearly 10 years. I’m a cisgender straight woman married to a cis straight man, and we have 2 children. I’m happy to chat about anything: thoughts you might have; questions you’d like me to try and answer; as well as contributions you can make to our community as an Ally.
  • Katherine Malin-August (she/her): I’m Katherine and I’m the Finance Manager for the School of Biological Sciences. I joined this university during lockdown. I’m a cis queer woman, with a non-binary partner. I’m a Trustee and Treasurer for an LGBT+ Youth Charity back in Manchester where I’m from. I’m happy to talk about the experience of being cis and supporting a trans* partner, and trying to use my cis privilege to take on some of the work on behalf of the trans* people in our lives. I could also talk about the Governance aspect of running an LGBT+ youth charity, if that interests you.
  • Winnie Lam (she/her): I am Winnie, a bi cisgender woman of colour (British born Chinese), in a relationship with a cisgender bi woman. Happy to talk about biphobia, bi-erasure, racism inside and outside of the LGBT+ community, and any other issues you feel my experience can help with.

If you would like to volunteer for Rainbow Office Hours, please complete this Microsoft Form:

Fill | Rainbow Office Hours Volunteer Form

This is a form to collect information from people who are willing to host “Rainbow Office Hours” at the University of Edinburgh in November 2020. The purpose is to allow LGBTQ+ PhD students and staff to drop in for informal chats and peer support. Rainbow Office Hours take place the last Friday of the month, every month, from 12-1pm. It’s best if you can commit to a block of 3 or 4 months in a row, but please do sign up even if you’re not certain you’ll always be available. Please complete this form if you can make yourself available online, and are happy to chat informally to people about your experiences and support them with theirs. NB: this is not a service to replace formal mental health or counselling support but is simply a chance for folk to make a connection with someone who might have had a similar experience to them, and share those stories.


  • our first Rainbow Office Hours of 2021 will be on January 29th 2021.

LGBT+ History Month Events 2021

It’s that time again when we commemorate and celebrate LGBT+ history. Once again the Staff Pride Network team have put together another series of fascinating events on a range of topics, further details available on our EventBrite.


We are delighted that Schools and departments throughout the University have chosen to organise more events and have liaised with us to ensure communications are appropriate. Watch out for social media from UoE Sport & Exercise and an HCA event on 9th Feb .

We’ll share more events from fellow HE networks on our social media so if you’re not already following us, we’re @uoestaffpride on Twitter, Facebook and Insta.

Happy LGBT+ History Month!  We hope you can join us for one of our events.

Jonathan and Katie

The SPN online social has moved to Zoom

This is a regular weekly Wednesday lunchtime coffee meetup 1-2pm & once a month (on the first Friday of the month) our evening social event (BYOB) 6:30pm-late.


Please drop in with a coffee and meet your LGBT+ colleagues and ask a committee member those questions you’ve been dying to have answered!

This event is open to all LGBT+/ally staff (or PhD students) of the University of Edinburgh.

More generally we have a broad range of people attending of all ages, disabilities and social abilities so please feel welcome to join us.

If you are nervous at all and would like to meet up with one of us first then please get in contact via our social media outlets or via email:


For the duration of ‘the event’ we shall be meeting online via a video chat service (finally given into Zoom):

The Staff Pride Network is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: SPN Social
Time: This is a recurring meeting every Wednesday 1-2pm and 6:30pm-late on the First Friday of each month.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 833 6838 1329
Passcode: SPNsocial1

Join by Skype for Business

Rainbow background images for video conferencing or slides

The designs taking inspiration from our Flags Survey results, we are delighted to present new Teams backgrounds which are available on the University website and saved in the Staff Pride Network Members SharePoint for you to download. Please add to your Teams (now!) and consider using these as backgrounds for lectures and meetings, both internal and external meetings.

“We are really pleased that these backgrounds play a small but welcome part in emphasising the importance of diversity and inclusivity at our University.”

Niall Bradley, Deputy Director of Marketing, The University of Edinburgh

As we continue to work with the University to increase awareness of the importance of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, tools for all staff and students to show support and allyship are key to that journey.

In this digital age where Rainbow Lanyards are less visible, rainbow lanyard Teams backgrounds were proposed by Melissa Highton, Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services and Assistant Principal Online Learning at ISG, which became a (lengthymultiple emailsvery senior management collaboration between Katie & I for the Staff Pride Network, ISG graphic designer and SPN graphic design volunteer Gill Kidd, HR’s Head of EDI Caroline Wallace, with final designs and corporate approval by University Communications & Marketing, including Head of Brand, Head of Marketing, Deepthi de Silva-Williams and Deputy Director of Marketing Niall Bradley.

Available to download “(Virtual backgrounds (zip)” from

Mark Pace has also kindly shared his two PowerPoint templates masters using these designs:

SPN Powerpoint

SPN Powerpoint2

Research Seminar: Transgender Gaze, Neoliberal Haze

Representations of trans women in the Americas through the prism of neoliberal society

a seminar with Gina Gwenffrewi

My PhD thesis deals with the impact of the Americas on our conception in Scotland and the UK regarding trans identity, specifically trans female identity. This is partly the intellectual and activist legacies from mainly North America since the 1990s, but also the terrible rate of violence suffered by trans women in Latin America and African American communities in the North. I’m interested in the narratives that we encounter in the arts and the media, including which narratives get seen by us, and which do not. My work deals with the power structures that decide, within our current neoliberal culture, what is the right kind of trans narrative and which is not. Accordingly, my thesis begins with an analysis of the novel The Danish Girl, with its narrow depiction of a white, hyper-feminine, upper-middle-class trans woman with a tragic ending, the perfect narrative for a white, non-trans audience. I then look at narratives including storytelling and biography by trans women of colour which challenge our understanding of society and how it is meant to enrich any hardworking citizen irrespective of class, race/ethnicity, or nation.





Research Seminar: World AIDS Day 2020

In recognition of World Aid’s Day 2020 and this year’s theme of “Resilience”, the University of Edinburgh Staff Pride Network hosted a panel event to address the question: How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting individuals living with HIV/AIDS in Scotland and around the world? and share insights as to how communities and health systems have demonstrated resilience and sought to strengthen HIV prevention services in the context of a global pandemic.

Our Panel members were:

  • Robert Pollock from Waverley Care
  • Socorro García – Casa de la Sal (Mexico)
  • Germán Martínez Blanco – AHF Mexico
  • Rocío Sánchez Granillo – preVIHene (Mexico)
  • Fraser Serle – HIV Scotland volunteer

Robert Pollock is a Health Improvement Coordinator at Waverley Care, he’s based in Edinburgh, currently working from home. He has been part of Waverley Care since 1995, initially as a befriending volunteer and since 2011 as a paid employee. He works in a small team offering outreach support to people living with HIV and/or HepC. This team has worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, offering a blend of in-person and telephone support and advice.

Socorro García Estrada is a psychologist graduated from the National University of Mexico (UNAM), psychotherapist, and thanatologist. She delivers person-centred awareness training for medical staff on topics of care for people living with HIV. She has 25 years of experience providing psychological orientation to people living with HIV. She is part of the Citizen Council on HIV in Mexico City and is Programme Director at La Casa de La Sal, a Civil Association that provides comprehensive care for people with HIV/AIDS and their families.

Germán Martínez Blanco is an independent actor and psychologist graduated from the National University of Mexico (UNAM). Since 2003 he has worked in NGOs, coordinating community psychological care programs. Since 2010 he has specialised in the HIV field doing prevention, early detection, and accompaniment of people living with HIV. He currently coordinates the Linkage to Medical Care programme in AHF Mexico and promotes the cabaret play entitled “Lights Out” with the Doom Cabaret company.

Rocío Sánchez Granillo López is a Psychologist, Psychotherapist, and PhD candidate in Human Sexuality. In her role as a lecturer at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, she supervises psychology trainees working with people living with HIV. As a result of this work, she co-founded ‘preVIHene Por tu Vida’, an organisation dedicated to deliver comprehensive sexual education programmes on primary prevention of STIs, unplanned pregnancies, and sexual health promotion.

Fraser Serle is a member of HIV Scotland’s Community Advisory Network and Lothian HIV Patient Forum. He was also vice-chair of Positively UK in London until earlier this month.