On February 1, the Trinity College Meeting (TCM), Trinity College’s student government body, held its sixth meeting of the academic year, successfully passing an amendment to degender all head of college positions. The changes will go into effect for the winter 2021 elections, and are designed to better include non-binary and gender fluid people. 

The motion, brought forward by Mariam Mahboob and Head of College Ingrid Cui, proposed that all heads positions — which are heads of college, arts, and non-residence affairs — would stop having gendered designations of “male” and “female,” and instead be called “Heads of College,” “Heads of Arts,” and “Heads of Non-Resident Affairs” in order to promote greater gender inclusivity in upper-year governance. The two head of college positions are the highest positions in the TCM. 

Amendment passes

The TCM had passed a motion to degender the year heads positions in November. The year heads positions represent students in their year, while the overall heads positions represent students at the whole college. At that meeting, the amendment to degender the overall heads positions was first put forward, where it was debated by attendees and ultimately shelved. 

The initial motion at the November meeting tried to remove ‘male’ and ‘female’ titling from all heads positions, and a sub-motion was brought up within the meeting to include that no two people both identifying as male or female could be in the position at the same time.

However, a restriction on having two people of the same gender identity at once “actually forces people to align or declare that they are of a specific gender in order to be qualified to hold these positions,” said Mahboob at the February meeting. The amendment in its current form sets no gender diversity quota for any head position. 

The changes to the amendment were also discussed with the Equity Committee, which discussed the amendment at its most recent meeting and endorsed it. 

Chair of the Equity Committee Dylan Alfi spoke in favour of the motion at the TCM meeting. “Coming to terms with one’s gender identity in an institution that has forced such strong binary choices when it comes to rising to positions of leadership is extremely isolating, extremely damaging, and can be very harmful to individuals engaging in that experience,” Alfi said. 

Long-term concerns 

Some expressed concerns over the college’s long-term commitment to inclusive governance. The amendment, therefore, included ways to make sure these positions could continue to best represent Trinity College’s students. 

It proposed trying to get more students involved in the college’s activities — especially commuters and Black, Indigenous, and other racialized students — in order to move away from only having popular students be elected to governance positions. The amendment also proposed that information about elections be more accessible to all students.

Editor’s note (February 8): This article has been updated to credit Mariam Mahboob and Ingrid Cui as the individuals who motioned the amendment, and also to correctly attribute a quote to Mahboob that was initially misattributed to Cui. The Varsity regrets these errors.