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It’s clear that the year old MSU Women & Gender Equity Network is settling comfortably into the fabrics of the campus. From November 16 to 20 WGEN ran a weeklong campaign for Trans Visibility Week. Events revolved around awareness, acceptance and the promotion of open discussion.
Hayley Regis, WGEN coordinator, is enthusiastic about the support.
“Last year we ran a little event on trans visibility, trans programs and trans rights, but that was only a pilot. This year we wanted to do something on a larger scale,” she said.
The week opened with events like Trans Archive and mini information sessions geared towards teaching people how to be better allies.
“I want people to know what trans is,” explained Regis. “I did Welcome Week training and a lot of people didn’t know that being trans is not a sexuality. We want to be able to explain things to people who have never been exposed to this kind of stuff before, making it accessible while still doing advocacy.”
Monday ended with a screening of the Marsha P. Johnson documentary ‘Pay It No Mind.’ This is not the only movie made in the name of revolutionary trans activist Johnson; The 2015 film Stonewall has been critiqued for promoting cis-whitewashing, a topic of conversation that came up in the discussion period after the viewing. “A lot of people who came out were already engaged in conversations about trans identity,” gearing the event more to those already immersed and familiar with the community.
Wednesday’s activities largely revolved around self-care, with activities such as yoga and a storytelling circle. Friday featured a talk with a talk from keynote speaker Dr. Carys Masserella. Dr. Masserella leads the team of physicians at the Quest Community Health Centre, a care clinic specifically for transfolk located in St. Catherine’s.
“I think people from a lot of different areas of McMaster would be interested in seeing a talk by someone that works as a doctor but works as a doctor that runs one of the only specialized clinics in Canada.”
The week ended with a vigil for those who have passed in acts of hate and anti-trans violence. Candles were decorated in the WGEN office before hand, sparkles and markers strewn about by those who walked in to show their support.
Moving forward, Regis hopes to have similar events sprinkled throughout the year.
“While we have the underying rhetoric of supporting survivors and transfolk and anyone really, we are working towards showing that more outwardly.”
Downsizing to a single day or hour of events instead of a whole week would allow for more frequent events as well as the potential for repetition of the events that garnered the most support. For Regis, she would love to see have another viewing of ‘Pay It Forward,” her favourite event in what was a successful week of advocacy by WGEN.