BU BOR OKs gender-affirming uniforms

By Jevan Dex Miranda

After its initial motion during Academic Year 2017 - 2018, the gender-reaffirming uniform policy in Bicol University (BU) is now approved for implementation by the Board of Regents (BOR) through the efforts of the BU Center for Gender and Development (BUCGD), University Student Council (USC), and duly recognized authors and proponents.

Specifically, General Legislative Council (GLC) Resolution No. 3, series of 2024 was authored by outgoing CaSSiPi Editor-in-Chief (EIC) Mark Dominic Rivera and lobbied in the General Legislative Assembly (GLA) on February 7, 2024. Further, the amendments to the existing policy were initiated by Dr. Noel R. Rafer, BU Center for Gender and Development (BUCGD) Director before being motioned for approval by the student regent to various university offices and the BOR.

The submitted resolution, containing revisions to the original policy by former Chairperson and Student Regent (CSR) Earl Vincent Vista, now nullifies existing uniform policies wherein students are only allowed to wear uniforms based on their biological sex.

Pivotal legacy

Former USC CSR Remee Estefany Baldorado said that she is grateful of the policy’s approval as it had been years since revisions were initiated.

“It is now heard and put into tangible action because it takes work, support and ample time, months rather to pass a resolution from the GLC as a university policy,” Baldorado shared.

Furthermore, Baldorado mentioned the steps she and Rafer took to make the amendments on the existing policy possible.

“We consulted and lobbied the concerns of the students by having consultation meetings and incorporating the resolution for students to a university-wide level amendment of the existing policy which will be authored by Dr. Noel R. Rafer,” she said.

“The resolution was collectively lobbied to the Administrative Clearing House, Administrative Council, Board Academic, Research, and Extension Committee, and the Board of Regents,” Baldorado added.

A challenging process

Despite the positive outcome, Rivera expressed his dismay at the missed opportunity of previous BUeño batches to celebrate this milestone due to the delayed ratification of the policy.

“Although we are celebrating this, we should acknowledge the fact that the university, through the efforts of those students who voiced the idea of this policy first, could have ratified this sooner so that those [batches] before us could have been accommodated, too,” he said.

Rivera also shared the challenges he faced during the crafting and planning phases of the policy amendment, such as receiving glances from dissenting parties.

“I remember when I first [spoke] about how hopeful I am for this initiative during one of our leaders' assembly in CSSP, one of the faculty therein was told to be glaring [at] me as that person was one of the staunch oppositions when it comes to the idea of gender-affirming [uniforms],” Rivera recalled.

He added the challenge he had to overcome from those who believe that the existing policy is not amenable, adding that most oppositional claims lean towards following present university policies notwithstanding student clamor.

Rivera refuted the notions, saying that “the university policy is not a palimpsest of untouchable sacredness” and is susceptible to change just like people.

“If it is no longer serving the best interest of our community, then it is time to revisit, review, and revise, thus, reform,” he added.

Stances of the LGBTQIA+ community

Amid latest reforms in gender development, iPose BU EIC Jaune Jacobs shared her sentiments on the recently passed resolution.

“Now that the policy has finally [been] passed, I am happy to see that students can express themselves fully, without any pressure to conform to a certain appearance. It allows us to feel comfortable and not be confined by outdated gender norms,” she remarked.

Moreover, Nam Malagueno, who was a proponent of the gender-reaffirming uniform policy for the approval of CSSP and Office of Student Affairs and Services in 2022 mentioned her experience on gender discrimination.

“Even before I entered this university, I was already aware that there was no policy on the gender-affirming uniform so I had to ask permission from the department first but sadly, I was barred by our department chair on the reason that it is not stated in the student handbook,” she said.

“A fellow trans woman, [a] Katribu of mine, was sent home just because she was wearing it. He also said that I would not be allowed to attend his class if I did the same thing,” Malagueno further explained.

As of the writing, the implementation of the said policy is indefinite and students are advised to wait for further announcements on the official BU Facebook page as per Baldorado.

However, the upcoming 54th BU Commencement Exercises will adopt the newly-approved policy change, allowing graduates to wear graduation attires in accordance to their gender identity.

In photos: Yenyra Versace, Ronard Lladones, and Robert Letada (from left to right), march on the 53rd Graduation Ceremony wearing gender-affirming clothes/ by Summer Untalan, The Bicol Universitarian

JEVAN REX MIRANDA is a freshman student from BU College of Arts and Letters. He joined the Universitarian in 2023 as a writer.