Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

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Diskriminierungssensibler Umgang mit trans*, inter* und nicht-binären Studierende in Lehrveranstaltungen

Please note!

Since July 2023, it has been possible for students at MLU to change their name and marital status at the university on the basis of a self-disclosure. All information on this can be found here.

Therefore, all notes in the handout that refer to this point will largely become obsolete.

Please inform affected students about this possibility of changing their name and marital status.

Handout (PDF)

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2203 Handreichung TIN Studierende.pdf (169 KB)  vom 11.03.2022

Handout (Text)

The University of Halle attaches importance to discrimination-sensitive interaction and is committed to the principles of equality, equal opportunities and anti-discrimination in all areas. In its diversity statement, it underlines the appreciation of its members also with regard to their genders and gender identities in an understanding that explicitly includes trans* and inter*gender as well as other non-binary persons (in short: TIN).

Currently, it is not possible for TIN students at MLU to have their self-chosen names and personal statuses recorded in university systems before an official change of name and personal status has at least been applied for at the competent local court or has already been carried out in accordance with §45b PstG. However, these procedures are often lengthy as well as costly and are experienced as discriminatory and humiliating by many of those affected. As a result, many TIN students are recorded with names and gender entries in central systems at MLU that do not correspond to their identity. This not only leads to confusion, as individuals are known by other names and gender identities in everyday university life, but also repeatedly leads to very stressful, discriminatory, and retraumatizing situations that can significantly limit TIN students' ability to study and mental health.

Courses can thus become anxiety-ridden places. As a faculty member, however, you can take easily implemented steps to respond sensitively to this situation and allow these individuals to attend your classes:

  • Signal a supportive, sensitive approach and allow TIN students to contact you about this, e.g., by mentioning it in your course announcement.
  • Allow individuals to communicate their desired first names and pronouns so that you and other participants can address them properly. For example, you can combine the attendance check with a round of introductions: All participants state their names and pronouns and, for example, their specific interest in the course. Meanwhile, you can check off the people on your list and make a note of the correct names and pronouns. If sanitation permits, you can also simply pass around a blank list for students to sign themselves in.
  • Use only names and gender designations (e.g., pronouns, salutations) that match the person's gender identity. If you are unsure, simply ask nicely.
  • Avoid exposing TIN individuals at all costs, as this can be an additional burden or even forced outing.
  • Allow TIN individuals to submit academic records without having to provide their legal first name. Unique identification is ensured by providing the student's matriculation number.

Since inapplicable names appear in Stud.ip, student email addresses, and at MLU conf (if digital rooms are included directly in Stud.ip), the following alternatives can be offered:

  • Create digital rooms via the website and share the link to the room in a message instead of including it directly in Stud.ip. This allows participants to provide their own names.
  • Set the participation list in Stud.ip to invisible and instead create a distribution list with participants' email addresses that they can use to communicate with each other. Allow students to provide you with their email addresses beforehand if they are different from student addresses.
  • Allow TIN students to send you files and upload them to Stud.ip for them, rather than having them upload them themselves.
  • If you want to use wikis or forums, allow the use of external offerings that allow you to provide a different name.

Thank you for actively contributing to the discrimination sensitivity of our university!

Further information


"Transition" refers to the process of moving from a gender identity perceived as inappropriate, usually ascribed at birth on the basis of external genitalia, to another gender identity corresponding to one's own identity. It can be accomplished at the legal (e.g., change in marital status and first name), physical (e.g., surgical procedures and hormone use), and social levels (e.g., through a new style of dress). This process can be lengthy and involves a great deal of emotional stress and frequent experiences of discrimination for affected individuals. If you would like to support persons in transition, you can consider the following things.

Names, pronouns and form of address

People in transition are often still stored with the outdated, wrong name in systems and in the memory of their fellow human beings and are therefore repeatedly addressed incorrectly. This is referred to as "deadnaming". "Deadname" refers to the outdated, non-applicable given name, usually received at birth and assigned to an inapplicable gender identity. In the course of transition, individuals often give themselves a new name with which they identify and which expresses their gender identity. Using the deadname is perceived as very hurtful and may constitute forced outing. Therefore, to avoid this, you should respect when a person informs you that they wish to be called by a different name and stop using the inaccurate old name.

Similarly, there is often a change of pronouns. In German, pronouns in the 3rd person singular are binary gendered ("sie/ihr", "er/sein"), as the neutral pronoun "es" is more commonly used for objects and therefore rarely used to refer to oneself. If a person tells you that in the future they would like to be addressed as "she" rather than "he", for example, you should respect that. Since some people locate themselves non-binary and also do not feel addressed by the common pronouns "she" and "he", they use neo pronouns (new pronouns) such as "sier", "per" or "xe" (e.g. "René is studying. Xe is in the third semester."). In Swedish, the neo pronoun "hen" already officially exists. In German, on the other hand, various neo pronouns have been used so far. You can also avoid using pronouns by using the name ("Ray Xing handed in Ray Xing's term paper"), but this leads to frequent repetition of the name. Some people do not want to use a pronoun at all and ask to use their name only. You behave in a supportive manner by inquiring of the individual if and what pronouns they use and respecting those requests when speaking to or about the individual. This usually takes a little practice. If an incorrect pronoun slips out, apologize briefly and correct yourself. If you are unsure whether you are addressing a person correctly, ask nicely.

It is also advisable to ask what form of address is desired before addressing people as "Mr. X" or "Ms. Z". You are on the safe side if you simply state your first name and surname instead of "Mr." or "Ms.".

In interactive events such as courses, training sessions or workshops, you can start with a round of introductions and pronouns in which all participants state how they would like to be addressed. If you use name tags, the pronouns can also be noted on them.

An increasingly established and easy-to-implement practice is to include details of how you would like to be addressed in your own email signature - even if other people always address you correctly themselves. Then people to whom you write will know how to address you correctly and will not have to ask. In addition, you signal that you are sensitized to the topic and make a contribution to sensitizing other people to the topic: e.g. "My pronouns are she/you and I use the form of address "Ms. XY". In order for me to address you properly as well, I would appreciate it if you would let me know your pronouns."

If you notice that a person is talking about someone you know and using the wrong pronouns, correct them. If you know a person who used to be known by a different name and pronouns, keep this information absolutely confidential so that no forced outing occurs.

Sanitary facilities

Persons in transition are also more likely to experience discrimination when they visit public restrooms, as these are usually binary-segregated (women's restrooms and men's restrooms). Since they are not perceived by others according to their gender identity or their gender identity does not fit into this binary classification, they are often told by others present in sanitary facilities that they are in the wrong toilet and expelled from the premises. This can lead to affected individuals trying to eat and drink as little as possible to avoid having to use a public restroom. This in turn can result in damage to health. Supportive measures include the installation of "all-gender restrooms" (to supplement women's restrooms and men's restrooms) that people can safely use regardless of their gender identity. In addition, assume that people who behave inconspicuously in a public restroom know exactly which restroom they are in and simply want to use it. Behave towards them in the same friendly manner as you would towards anyone else.

At the University of Halle, there are all-gender restrooms available on every campus. You can find all information about this here.