Preview: Trans Awareness Month 2015

Image credits: Em Travis

Image credits: Em Travis

This Sunday November 1st kicks off a month that’s often little recognised in the LGBT+ calendar (alright, I’ll admit it, even I didn’t know it existed till I googled it). Between Trans Day of Remembrance (November 20th), which is a well-established event, and Trans Day of Visibility (March 31st), which is gaining traction especially amongst trans Twitter, it felt like we had an obvious gap. We have a day to “be visible”, and we have a day to remember our siblings who have been killed, often as a result of their own visibility. Where is the space for growth, interaction, education?

I write, and organise, in the knowledge that “awareness” does not always – or even often – equal “acceptance”. It would be naïve to deconstruct the origins of the cissexist, transmisogynistic structure that creates and perpetuates the systemic oppression of trans people and conclude that only ignorance breeds violence. However, awareness of the ways we can begin dismantling that structure is the first step in bringing us together to do so, to work side-by-side for each other’s liberation. Moreover, the events being run this month are not organised with a one-dimensional definition of “awareness” in mind, but seek instead to explore the intersections of oppressions, and even to deconstruct the entire concept of “gender” itself – read on for more details!

What: SOLIDARITY & ALLYSHIP WORKSHOP

When: Sunday 1 November 3-5pm

Where: The SU Common Room (the old Grad Union), SU building, Silver St

Why: Tons of the questions the Make No Assumptions campaign gets are about how best to support and stand in solidarity with trans people. Lots of the time we end up just giving the same basic answers, when in fact there’s so much more to allyship than using the right name and pronouns for someone, so we wanted to give people the opportunity to learn more about what makes a good (or bad) trans ally.

What to expect: Squash and biscuits! A chilled atmosphere, with lots of discussion both in smaller groups, and all together. Some answers to the questions you’ve all been wondering about, and some working together to deconstruct various examples of lukewarm allyship and to build ideas about how we can all do better.

What: TRANSNESS & DISABILITY PANEL

When: Thursday 5 November, 7:15-8:45pm

Where: Chetwynd Room, King’s

Why: Intersections with disability tend to be incredibly overlooked in liberation campaigns in general; for disabled trans people, the interaction between transphobia and disablism is often painfully clear, but it’s not always obvious from the outside. Some disabled trans people also feel their experiences of gender are linked with, or influenced by, their disabilities.

What to expect: Narratives you probably haven’t considered, and perspectives you’ve likely never heard from before. A bunch of wonderful speakers. The chance to ask questions and participate in the discussion. The chance to say “holy crap, I never thought of that before” a lot (trust me).

What: PROS & CONS OF VISIBILITY PANEL

When: Sunday 15 November, 2-4pm

Where: Queen’s Building Lecture Theatre, Emmanuel

Why: Some trans activism tends to uncritically celebrate visibility and/or representation, without any consideration of the negative effects visibility can have for trans people, especially those who face oppression on multiple axes. On the flip side, it’s often those at the intersections of multiple oppressions who are ignored when it comes to trans representation in the mainstream.

What to expect: An incredible and diverse group of speakers, some fascinating and in-depth exploration of the issues surrounding representation and visibility and lots of opportunity for audience questions and participation.

What: TRANSFEMINISM TALK BY SOPHIE LABELLE 

When: Sunday 22 November, 3-5:30pm

Where: McCrum Lecture Theatre, Corpus Christi

Why: Trans women and transfeminine people have unique voices and experiences to bring to feminism. CUSU LGBT+ and WomCam wanted to work together to present an event that considers the intersections between the trans and feminist movements, between being trans and being a woman, and opens up the question of how these two liberations can work hand in hand to create a new kind of feminism.

What to expect: Sophie frickin’ Labelle! She’s the incredibly talented author and artist of the Assigned Male comic, and we’re so excited to hear her speak. There will also be plenty of space to ask questions!

What: DECOLONISING GENDER PANEL

When: Saturday 28 November, 2:30-4:40pm

Where: William Mong Hall, Sidney Sussex

Why: Mainstream narratives of gender, gender variance, and trans issues tend to be represented through an exclusively white, Western lens. We’re interested in deconstructing that lens, exploring gender and sex as colonialist constructs, and representing some experiences of the ways in which they intersect with race – both historically, and in everyday life today.

What to expect: Stories and perspectives from some amazing trans people of colour. Questioning the fundamentals of your understandings of gender and sex. Your mind: BLOWN. Honestly.

What: TRANS VOICES SPOKEN WORD & POETRY NIGHT

When: Saturday 28 November, 8-10pm

Where: Coleridge Room, Jesus

Why: Because who doesn’t love some spoken word poetry?

What to expect: Striking, thought-provoking, emotional performances from some fabulous trans poets. A chilled, social atmosphere. Drinks from the bar downstairs. A real experience of an evening.

Em Travis, Get Real. contributor

If you would like to know more about any of the events this November and receive notifications about them, head to the Trans Awareness Month event page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/810523649065005/
Trans Awareness Month events in Cambridge are brought to you by CUSU LGBT+ trans awareness campaign Make No Assumptions. To learn more about any of the issues mentioned above, or gain access to some really useful resources for trans people and allies, check out the website: http://www.makenoassumptions.org.uk/

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