Oxford University has rewritten the laws governing its strict academic dress code, so that women may wear trousers and men may wear skirts if they so choose.
The ground-breaking changes have been ushered in after a motion put forward by the university’s LGBTQ society was passed by the student union.
Previously, a transgender student wanting to wear clothes of the opposite sex had to seek special dispensation from university proctors, who had the power to punish those who breached the rules.
The change will make a number of students’ exam experience significantly less stressful, said Jess Pumphrey, LGBTQ Soc’s executive officer.
‘In future there will be no need for transgender students to cross-dress to avoid being confronted by invigilators or disciplined during their exam,’ she told the Oxford student newspaper.
Under the old rules, female students had to wear a dark skirt or trousers, white blouse, black stockings and shoes, with a black ribbon tied in a bow at the neck. Male students would have to wear a dark suit and black shoes, with a white bow tie and a white shirt under their black gowns.
Oxford University LGBTQ society president Simon Webb said: ‘This is an extremely positive step and indeed long overdue.’
An Oxford University spokesman added: ‘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.’
Oxford’s rival Cambridge University relaxed its rules some time ago.