Oxford University Changes Academic Dress Code for Transgender Students

Illustration for article titled Oxford University Changes Academic Dress Code for Transgender Students

Oxford University has changed one of its stodgier traditions so that now it's less arbitrarily stodgy than it was before — students taking exams or attending formal events will no longer have to wear ceremonial academic clothing that is specific to their gender. Men can now wear skirts and stockings, and women will have the chance to wear jackets and fancy bow ties.


According to the Telegraph, the revised regulations will take effect next week after a motion put forward by Oxford's LGBTQ Society was passed by the student union. Under the old dress code — known as subfusc for all those people who plan on sneaking into Oxford to audit classes and want to seem as legit as possible — male students had to wear a dark suit, dark shoes, and a white shirt and bow tie all under black gowns. Female students had to wear dark skirt or trousers, a white blouse, black stockings and shoes and a black ribbon tied in a bow at the neck. A transgender student, for example, looking to wear subfusc of the opposite sex would have had to, under the old regulations, seek a special dispensation from the university proctors, who, if they wanted to be sticklers, could punish students for breaking the dress code.

Simone Webb, president of Oxford's LGBTQ Society, said that the change eliminates a pointless restriction in the dress code while maintaining the integrity of the subfusc tradition:

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 subfusc to that which they'd be expected to wear.

To be clear, the bow ties are staying put, just in case that was going to be a dealbreaker for anyone looking to attend Oxford for some impromptu summer coursework.

Men can wear skirts to Oxford University exams [Telegraph]



Why can't we have this stuff, I would so dig the uniforms. And yes, I know this is a minority opinion, but I did go to a grade school that had a extremely elaborate uniforms policy (and it's not even a private school, we all assumed that the principle was in bed with a clothing factory director or something). And there is something precious about having to do laundry at 2am because you accidentally dropped your blazer and tie into a mud puddle at midnight.

On an odd note, Trinity College at University of Toronto also mandates academic robes for ceremonies and dinner in the great hall (and the pre-dinner prayer is in Latin). I think it's the only North American institution that does that. The college was specifically designed to be OxBridge.