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KU staff honoured victims of transphobia

By River Reporter Nov 23, 2012

Kim Richters

Will Brooker, a staff member of KU’s feminist society and the LGBT forum, put up a shrine honouring victims of transgender hate crime.

The shrine was set up on November 20, the international transgender day of remembrance.

Mr Brooker, the director of film and research at Kingston University, said: “To be fair to everyone, I think we all left it quite late to arrange anything this year. I am going to mark the event personally by creating a little shrine and taking photos of it for Twitter and Facebook.”

KU’s LGBT society’s plan to organise a bake sale fell through after they failed to give the university the two-week’s notice required for setting up a stall to raise money.

Mr Brooker said: “I think at least we have recognised the need to do something in future and we can plan ahead next time. There are various projects ongoing to improve trans representation at KU and I’ve written to the LGBT officer of the NUS for further advice.”

More still to do

He further said: “I think that while remembrance is important and it helps remind us how far we have to go in terms of trans rights and how many have been lost on the journey so far, we don’t yet have an established trans pride day and I think we should value and celebrate trans identity in a positive way, rather than have the main ‘trans day’ an event about mourning, loss and regret.

“I do think that it’s still very challenging for people to come out as trans. Even at a diverse, welcoming and forward-thinking university like Kingston, where we hosted the first Q&A with Transsexual Summer star Drew-Ashlyn Cunningham.  We have a long way to go before people can feel fully understood, accepted and appreciated as trans.”

Looking to the future

Mr Brooker hopes that KU will work together to improve the life of and shine a light on the importance of support for transgender students and staff: “I think we need to do more to improve that and that is something I am working on with the LGBT forum.

“We are hoping to have trans campaigner Paris Lees as the keynote special guest at LGBT history month next year and to develop mentoring and role-modelling programmes.”

“I think the ‘t’ in LGBT is sometimes forgotten and it would be great if Kingston could become known as the most trans-friendly university in the UK,” he added.

Lucy Williams, Kingston University’s Student Union’s Vice-president, agreed with Mr Brooker, adding that the newly-founded LGBT Working Group is already working on new initiatives: “It can be a very difficult journey to come out as trans, but I want to strive toward making this a university where people can feel comfortable to do so, in a warm, inclusive environment that is welcoming and accepting of all.”

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