St. Catherine’s College at Cambridge University has decreed that men can wear skirts at formal dinners, following a campaign by a transgender-rights activist student.
The 542-year-old college has broken down its long-standing traditional dress code which Pink News claims said that men had to wear suits, whilst women had to wear dresses or a blouse and skirt to the events.
The campaigner behind the changes, PhD student Charlie Northrop said: “I’m over the moon, it’s absolutely wonderful that it’s now been passed… Everyone has been so helpful and it’s been great to make a new change. I’ve been speaking to students from other colleges now who hope to make the change across the university.”
Now, Charlie, a man who has “transitioned” to being a woman, can wear a dress and/or a skirt. Though one would imagine that if Charlie were recognised as being a woman, she would have been able to anyway. Now, as a self-identifying woman, Charlie is entitled to wear a suit, which would put her in the same place as before her “transition” – wearing a suit to college.
But the change also makes for some strange and perhaps discriminatory amendments in favour of women. For instance, men wearing a suit will be required to wear a tie, whereas women will not be. Charlie said: “We had to come up with a way of proposing a new dress code that would omit gender specification but would still keep formality. For instance the college wanted to ensure those wearing suits would still wear ties but female suits don’t have ties so we’ve worded it so that if you have buttons down the left side you don’t have to wear a tie but down the right side you do.”
The Telegraph reports that Charlie is from Richmond, Indiana, and said: “I always felt wrong with the sex I was but it’s hard to explain in words. It was when I was 18 that I began the real process of realising I wanted to transition. It was when I got to Cambridge that it really became possible.”
It is unknown as to whether her comments are in reference to treatment through the National Health Service (NHS).