Guest post from Evan Wilkins, Enfys Network – Celebrating the diversity of the transgender community…
This Friday, 31 March, is International Transgender Day of Visibility, an annual event celebrating the diversity of the transgender community and bringing Trans identities to a more visible standing in everyday life.
Transgender is an umbrella term
Transgender is an umbrella term which encompasses all whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from their assigned sex at birth. This day brings light to those who are proud of their identity and are willing to share their stories for others to learn from.
Cardiff University offers an inclusive environment
We offer an inclusive environment to work and study and understand that when people are able to be themselves we get the best from them. We offer support to those who transition while with us, and are always working on ways that we can improve the experience for everybody involved. We want people to feel that they can truly be themselves without worrying about how they will be treated by others.
Why Trans visibility is important to our staff and students
We have a number of staff and students who fit under the Trans umbrella. We asked them why Trans visibility is important:
Onyx Rapse, Postgraduate Student, School of Optometry
“Transgender Day of Visibility aims to draw attention to the fact that while most people now know that trans people exist, very few people actually know what that means. Even less know the appropriate behaviour and language around trans and non-binary people.
Ruby Rose, possibly the most famous out non-binary person, is still treated more like a “quirky girl” while not having her gender-fluid identity respected. When I recently came out as non-binary, the most common response I got was ‘I don’t really know what that means – I’ll try my best to be supportive, but it’ll take some time getting used to’.
People struggle with neutral pronouns because they are not commonplace. People don’t know about non-binary people because they’ve never seen them as characters in their favourite shows or movies.
Visibility is important, but it is not the most important thing. In the eye of the public, transgender women are hypervisible; this hypervisibility leads to violence, stigma and discrimination. What they need, and what we need just as much as visibility, is understanding, acceptance and inclusion. We need a widespread normalisation of transgender and non-binary identities – because I can assure you that the one thing trans people want most of all, is just to get on with their lives without having to fight this battle every day.”
Dr Josie Henley, Researcher in the School of Healthcare Sciences
“To me trans is anyone who transgresses gender boundaries and norms. Living as a trans person involves this transgression being a feature of my life. It does not necessarily permeate through every part of one’s life because some people feel obliged to conform to their assigned gender, for instance in work or at family events. I’m lucky that I now work in a job where I can be open and wear clothes that suit me.
Visibility is important because if other people, especially children, see nothing that goes against their belief that gender is binary and fixed, then they will live in a very narrow world. This can lead to repression of their own expression, as well as aggression towards someone else’s transgression.
I have a terrific partner who identifies as non-binary and I have been able to establish a much stronger trans identity than I think I would alone. We are gender pioneers. It feels great to have that support.
Dr Henley’s tips for people wanting to come out as trans:
- Talk to other trans people. We have meet ups and there are online groups (facebook is good for this). We are not all the same so you might get different answers, but asking questions is ok
- Clothes are important and incredibly validating
- Hang in there; it gets better!
- Find out more about Enfys for staff and postgraduates
- Read about how Cardiff University is inclusive
Evan Wilkins, Enfys Network