Free artificial breasts among items on offer to trans students at Edinburgh University

Trans students at Edinburgh University are reportedly being offered free prosthetic breasts and “packers” that help give the appearance of having a penis.

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Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) is said to be funding “gender-empowering” items, which also include breast-binders and compression underwear to hide male genitalia.

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A report in The Sunday Times said the move was designed to help trans and non-binary people who experienced dysphoria and other social anxieties, “usually due to a sense of incongruence between their own gender identity and the way their physical appearance is interpreted”.

A trans rights demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament in 2019
A trans rights demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament in 2019

A document considered by EUSA was quoted arguing that items designed to help could be costly for students, at between £50 and £150, and pointing out the association already provided free sanitary products and items to encourage safer sex.

The document said trans and non-binary students often required material support “to help them through numerous pressures of living in a transphobic world”. And it added: “It’s a matter of safety and welfare to be able to provide this.”

It was reported that £1,500 had been made available to fund the items, but that EUSA had declined to say how many students were being supported “given the sensitive nature of this data”.

Women’s rights group For Women Scotland said it was “horrified” to learn about the programme.

It said: “Breast-binding is a dangerous and regressive practice that destroys healthy tissue and causes breathing problems and damage to the rib cage. It restricts young women’s capacity to participate in normal activities and if done for long periods will cause permanent damage.”

Last week former Edinburgh University rector Ann Henderson said she had considered resigning because of a sustained campaign of abuse after she called for a reasoned debate on gender recognition reforms.

She said she had received many emails from staff and students who were being bullied in their own classes.

"Much of my energy was consumed with unfounded allegations of 'transphobia'. There has been a significant personal cost, with time off work, sleepless nights, and fearing for my own physical safety around campus student venues. I considered resigning."

Members of EUSA women's campaign pulled out of a "women's dinner" which she helped organise, claiming they "would be letting down trans women".

And principal Peter Mathieson refused to speak out against a petition which claimed Henderson had retweeted "transphobic comments", saying it would only make matters worse if he intervened.

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