How Cambridge is celebrating Transgender Awareness Week
Chapel services, Instagram accounts, Trans Inclusion guides and plenty of flags
Today (Friday 20th November) marks Transgender Day of Remembrance, and the week leading up to the day is known as Transgender Awareness Week; all over Cambridge students (and some Colleges) have been commemorating this week and showing solidarity with the transgender community.
According the GLAAD, Transgender Awareness Week is “a week when transgender people and their allies take action to bring attention to the community by educating the public about who transgender people are, sharing stories and experiences, and advancing advocacy around the issues of prejudice, discrimination, and violence that affect the transgender community.”
Here is a round-up of how Cambridge has shown solidarity with the trans community this week:
Downing, Newnham, Robinson and Emmanuel Colleges have hoisted the transgender flag on the flagpoles at College, with Emmanuel raising the flag on the morning of 13th at 8am, and students encouraged to attend the ceremony socially-distanced.
The Mathematical Bridge dons pink, white & blue
Queens’ College JCR chose to hang a large 8ft transgender flag over the side of the Mathematical Bridge this week to show solidarity with the trans community. This followed news that the College would not allow any flags, banners or posters to be displayed in college room windows, which was met with outrage amongst College students. Speaking to the Tab, LGBT+ officer for the Queens’ College JCR, said: “Queens’ had a minor scandal involving the forced removal of Trans and Pride flags from peoples windows in the run up to Trans Awareness Week. Whilst I already had plans in the pipeline to erect the Trans Flag, these incidents confirmed the necessity to show support for our trans students; by providing an official platform and increasing visibility of the issue.
“I have had many positive responses, from inquisitive porters and punters who didn’t recognise the flag to members of the LGBT community who said it made them ‘very proud to go to Queens’. But there has also been negative reception from some of the LGBT community who felt it was wrong to show tokenistic or symbolic support from the bridge whilst simultaneously silencing students individual expression. Of course I understand this sentiment, but would like to note that it was college that chose to ban individual flag flying, and the JCR who subsequently worked hard to get the Trans flag flown on the Bridge.
“This dichotomy of traditional institution verses the liberal student is rife throughout Cambridge, but has been exemplified this week by the Trans flags at Queens’. This has undoubtedly been a sensitive time for the Trans community at Cambridge, and Queens’ more specifically, but I know there has also been a sense of immense pride. We now have plans underway to start a charity initiative to raise money for a Trans related cause.”
Girton holds a Remembrance Service
Girton College will be hosting a Remembrance Service on Friday in conjunction with the chapel in order to honour Transgender Day of Remembrance which, as GLAAD explains, is “an annual observance on November 20th that honours the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence that year.”
Emily Tarry-Wright, organiser of the event, told the Tab that the service was “very exciting given the often tense relationship between the Church of England and the trans community.”
Tarry-Wright went on to say: “The entire college at Girton have been incredibly forthcoming in fact, especially Susan the mistress and Reverend Tim. Several people in the trans community have got in contact and said how much having an official service at Chapel means to them, even though they’re atheists, because it’s official recognition and solidarity.
“I think it’s a really exciting moment in college history, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it!”
The service will be live-streamed on the Girton College Chapel Youtube account at midday on Friday, and will also be available to watch afterwards.
Cambridge SU drops a Trans Inclusion Guide
This week, Cambridge SU LGBT+ Trans and Non-binary reps have released a Trans Inclusion Guide, which has been collated over the summer and Michaelmas term.
The SU reps dropped the guide on Facebook yesterday, in a post which reads: “This is by no means an in-depth guide to trans issues but is a minimum requirement that we believe all members of the University should access.”
It goes on to say: “What gives it power is putting what we have written into practice and meaningful change. Trans inclusion should be a priority for every JCR, MCR, College, Department, Fellow and student. Share this in the spaces you exist in. Codify it into policy. Make it institutional.”
The guide includes information such as: “an introduction to gender and definitions of terms”, a “checklist on both individual and structural allyship” and a “summary of University Policy that is important for trans students, such as changing names and crsIDs”.
A uni-wide SU Instagram
Cambridge SU Trans and Non-Binary Reps have also started up an Instagram account (@trans_at_cam) to document all the demonstrations of support by Colleges and students alike! According to its bio, the account is “a space welcome to students at Cambridge to support and love our trans and non-binary community”.
One of the SU LGBT’s trans reps Frankie, who runs the account, explained how the Instagram came about: “I’m at Clare and the LGBT+ officer (there) and ordered loads of trans flags for after the porter incident (a Clare College porter resigned from his seat on the city council after he refused to back a motion saying ‘trans women were women’). I just thought it was wonderful to walk around college and see trans flags everywhere and as it’s often hard to get colleges to actually fly flags, I thought we might as well just do a student campaign and get our own students to fly them!
“Generally we just hope to keep the account going for trans students to follow and find community. Often the trans community is quite disparate as it’s so small so having as many accounts you can follow just helps to provide that sense of solidarity between each other.
“We just want to make sure our trans students feel safe, welcomes and loved and one of the most simple ways of doing that is through covering the city in blue pink and white.”
When approached for comment, Queens’ College said: “Queens’ is proud to be flying the transgender flag from the Mathematical Bridge for Transgender Awareness Week.”
Feature image credit: Leila Lawrence, Genevieve Holl-Allen