As of 4 August, candidates will be able to choose for themselves whether to wear a skirt or trousers or a suit and a black string tie or a white bow tie to their examinations. Until now, transgender students had to seek special dispensation from the Proctors to wear subfusc of the opposite gender.
Earlier this year, OUSU passed a motion to remove gender restrictions from academic dress. The motion was put forward by the committee’s LGBTQ officer Jess Pumphrey, who said that the change is “a small one that will make a number of students’ exam experience significantly less stressful”.
She said that in future there will be no “need for transgender students to cross-dress to avoid being confronted by invigilators or disciplined during their exam.”
An Oxford University spokesperson commented: ‘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.’
University students expressed their delight at the changes. A third year Lincolnite commented: “I’m very pleased to see the university modernising its rules on sub fusc, which will give all students greater choice what to wear when exams roll around.”
Simone Webb, the Oxford University LGBTQSoc President, applauded Pumphrey for leading the campaign. She said: “This is an extremely positive step, and indeed long overdue.
“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.”