NUS

Well intentioned, but unworkable: the NUS and cross-dressing

Genderqueer_pride_flagMuch has been said in the last few days about the NUS banning crossdressing from UK campuses. This is of course a massive overstatement. The offending resolution, passed at the NUS Women’s conference 2015, merely states that the conference should “issue a statement condemning cross-dressing as a mode of fancy dress”.

Reactions to the resolution have been largely negative (I had to go to a place no one should ever have to go – page six of Google’s search results – to find a blog post in favour of it) and a good  portion of that has been of the oh-won’t-someone-think-of-the-poor-straight-cis-men variety, which is just, y’know, *eyeroll*.

Here is the offending article in full. You can read a .pdf of the document here.

 con believes

The intent of the resolution is to decrease transphobia, but as the saying goes, intent is not magic, and the wording here is far from perfect. You do not have to search for long to find a slew of evidence supporting the assertion (noted under the heading ‘conference believes’) that trans and non-binary people are routinely denigrated in popular culture. This is categorically something we should work to end. Should cisgender men dress as women or, worse, ape hurtful and harmful trans* stereotypes with the sole intention of mockery? Obviously not. It’s tasteless, unoriginal verging on boring and it contributes to a culture of misogyny, trans- and whorephobia. It’s emphatically a good idea to ask people to consider their motivations when they cross-dress for entertainment. Likewise, it’s a good idea to promote sensitivity towards gender difference and acknowledge how our actions might contribute to a culture of transphobia and misogyny. But should we legislate against it? Well… no. Or at least, not like this.
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