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Student registers and trans students: Not always the best of friends

Blog — 27.9.2023

Gender minorities are exposed to a lot of uncertainty and discrimination in many aspects of their everyday life, and the student registers are no exception to this rule.

Trans students are at risk of being misgendered or outed because of the information that is available in our student register Peppi. For example: your chosen name can only be picked between your legal names, which means that a trans person who has not done a legal name change can be forced to use an email address and username that uses their deadname, meaning their birth name. While it is understandable that the information in Peppi must reflect the information in the Population Information System, it is also unfortunate that students at our university can be misgendered or deadnamed because of a register that is meant to be a helpful tool.

The Student Union signed a statement against the student register’s discrimination of gender minorities during this past summer. The initiative came from the Student Union of Aalto University and was signed along with the Student Unions from the University of Helsinki, Hanken School of Economics, the University of Oulu and the University of Lapland, as well as the National Union of University Students in Finland.

The problem with Peppi is that the information is bound to the Population Information System, which takes information about gender from the social security number. This system is binary, but it explains the categories that Peppi has for gender – man, woman, and unknown. This system only reflects the gender one is assigned at birth or if that information is not available, for example an exchange student who does not have a complete Finnish social security number. This system is unfortunate, it is outdated, and it needs lobbying on a national level towards the Personal Information System.

The Student service desk is on the side of trans students

The Student Union has discussed with the Student service desk at ÅAU, which is the closest contact for trans students who might want to correct or change information about themselves in the register. There is a lot that cannot be done because of limitations from Peppi as a program and the Population Information System, but the situation is not helpless. The staff at the Student service desk want students to feel safe enough to ask for help and support when there are discrepancies in Peppi, and to help with this, a page for trans students specifically has been posted to the ÅAU intranet. It is not yet available in English but can be read in Swedish here.

The Student Union has also worked to get this issue into the National Union of University Student’s policy papers for the upcoming year to aid in the lobbying efforts.

The Student Union advocates for equality on campus and in the social sphere of ÅAU, and this means the consideration and inclusion of gender minorities and a strengthening of everyone’s right to be accepted and safe on campus. Many of us take our identities for granted in these registers, but it is no sure thing.

Further reading:

The page for trans students from ÅAU’s intranet (in Swedish), Transperson i studierna

Ida Parkkinen, Student register discriminates gender minorities – we demand actions from universities

The Student Union supports Trans Rights

Being Trans in the EU — Comparative analysis of the EU LGBT survey data