Last week, the Oxford University Students Union (OUSU) decided to ammend its consitutional definition of a "woman". The old definition was "any person designated as such by their birth certificate". However, a motion proposed jointly by the Chairs of the OUSU Women's Committee and OUSU Queer Rights Committee suggested that this was discriminatory against male-to-female transgenderal students.
The changes mean that from next year, transgenderal students will be able to identify themselves as "female" to the OUSU Vice-President for Women (a sabbatical officer) by showing "sufficient evidence". This would normally be expected to be a documentation of name change. The changes will affect which students can stand and vote in certain elections and committees. Unlike ICU, some OUSU committees and posts are reserved for women.
Union hacks at Imperial have been taken aback by the news. ICU's Women's Officer (and now Men's Officer) post is open to all students, regardless of gender. It had been thought that gender restrictions on candidates and voting could not be imposed as they would breach equal opportunities law. Several women also expressed the view that having separate women's officers and committees is degrading of women.
One observer commentted "thank God, we don't have that sort of drivel in our Constitution - or else Hamish really would be a muppet!"