October 4, 2017 / 5:23 PM / a year ago

Top UK women's college welcomes transgender applicants

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A women-only college in Britain’s prestigious Cambridge University has changed its admissions policy to accept transgender female students.

Murray Edwards - whose alumni include Hollywood actress Tilda Swinton and British comedian and television star Sue Perkins - said students who were born male, but who live as females, will be considered for admission as of 2018.

Transgender women who want to transfer to Murray Edwards college during their degree are also permitted.

“We will consider any student who, at the point of application, identifies as female and, where they have been identified as male at birth, has taken steps to live in the female gender,” the college said in a statement.

“(We) have concerns that narrow gender identities and the expectations associated with them are damaging both to individuals and to wider society,” it added.

A growing number of British children are coming out as transgender, with some as young as three experiencing distress because their gender identities do not match their bodies, a mental health condition known as gender dysphoria.

London’s Tavistock and Portman mental health clinic, which runs Britain’s only gender identity service for children and teenagers, said its referrals had more than doubled to 1,419 in 2015/16 compared with the year before.

The Lancet medical journal estimated in 2016 that there are about 25 million transgender people globally.

Transgender people suffer high rates of depression - up to 60 percent - due to stigma, discrimination and abuse, jeopardizing their physical and mental health, it said.

Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Katy Migiro and Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, gender equality, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories

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