UU students and sex/gender registration

Transgender © iStockphoto.com/taa22
© iStockphoto.com/taa22

In the past few years, practices of sex/gender registrations are decreasing. In the Netherlands, information about one’s sex has been removed from diplomas, visas and personal OV-chipcards. This is in line with the government’s aim to reduce registration of personal data. In other contexts (customer services e.g.), the registration of sex or gender is still very frequent, while reasons for such registration are rarely given. In the context of these developments, this project investigates how sex/gender registration is organized at UU. What is registered: the sex you have been assigned at birth? Legal sex? Gender identity? What options are available? What do students know about the way their sex or gender is registered at UU? And, how is this information being used?

Two master students in the Gender Studies programme, Hannah van Wikselaar and Eva Soeterik, supervised by Berteke Waaldijk (Humanities) and Marjolein van den Brink (Law), research how students experience sex/gender registration practices at Utrecht University. The project found a home in the Hub Gender and Diversity. The researchers sent out a survey to find out what students know and what their experiences are. The preliminary results from the survey show that most students are not aware of how information about their sex or gender is shared, and some do not know when and why the university registers the sex/gender of students. Also, the results show that it can be unclear what the purpose is of the registration of their sex/gender. Besides, students who want to change their registered sex or gender, encounter difficulties. These difficulties are for example: a non-binary student can register themselves only as either male or female within the university system; a transgender student is confronted with the initials of their deadname in their UU email address. Following up on the survey, Van Wikselaar and Soeterik have conducted interviews with students about their experiences, thoughts and ideas around sex/gender registration practices at UU.

Solutions to the encountered problems are also explored through conversations with UU employees, other universities’ approaches and policies, literature research and knowledge gathered by organizations like Atria and Transgender Netwerk Nederland (TNN). 

A preliminary report will be available in May 2021.

Any suggestions, ideas or questions related to the topic are very welcome, please email us at: project.gender.registration@uu.nl.

See also

Toolkit onnodige sekseregistratie Atria

‘Afwegingskader sekseregistratie eindrapport’, by dr. Marjolein van den Brink & dr. Jet Tigchelaar


Panel conversation on UU International Women’s Day 2021: De (on)zin van geslachtsregistratie (in Dutch)

Involved researchers

Berteke Waaldijk

Marjolein van den Brink

Hannah van Wikselaar (intern)

Eva Soeterik (intern)