It is with both sadness and anger that the members of the student and community group TransCollaborations are making this public announcement. This was not an easy decision to make. TransWeek! 2011 events that were originally scheduled to take place in the LGBT Resource Center (LGBTRC) have been moved to the Women’s Resource & Action Center. This announcement is only for the following TransWeek event:
Friday, November 11th 6-9pm
Transcending the Wall 2: An Exhibition of Art Exploring Gender Identities
Changed to: The Women’s Resource & Action Center (130 N. Madison St)
Last week our group sent an email to the Coordinator of Multicultural Programs in the UI Center for Student Involvement & Leadership to ask about how to best showcase artwork for TransWeek. We were mindful that the LGBTRC was recently renovated and we wanted to be respectful of the work that went into our resource center. In response to this email, it was suggested that we hold the event in the garage of the LGBTRC. The cultural symbolism of suggesting to a marginalized group that our event should be held in a separate space, in a cold, unlit, and disgusting space is horrific, oppressive, and offensive.
In the last few days we have tried to engage the coordinator in meaningful conversation. We felt that it was better to have an in-person conversation because tone and intent can be lost in the translation of email communication. After several attempts to reach the coordinator who has been unavailable, we are left with few options. It feels like our concerns are not important enough to merit a quick response to our meeting requests, given that we are in the middle of TransWeek and thus, we also feel devalued and ignored in the process of unresponsiveness.
The LGBTRC is built on the premise that queer and trans* people need a place to be safe from oppression, to build community, host programs, and engage in social justice work. Our trans* group was asked to host an event literally outside of this community space of which we are - at least in name - a part of. The irony that this problem arose in connection with TransWeek, which has as its’ theme this year “Building Communities of Care,” is not lost on members of our community and allies. It makes evident that our campus and wider community needs to be actively engaged in dialogue around how oppression manifests in a multitude of forms.
We hope the change of venue will open up the opportunity to further explore questions of why the LGBTRC exists, who has access to it, and the ways in which it is used. We appreciate the Women’s Resource & Action Center for creating a safe and affirming space for our use – to build community, work towards social justice, and celebrate gender in its many forms.
stef shuster, Co-Organizer for TransCollaborations