Starting a GSA

I’m starting a GSA at my school and I want to have meetings with different topics each week. I want the topics to focus more on less well-known issues like the biphobia, etc. Do you have any ideas of what I could talk about?

Oh awesome, this is awesome. This is really cool of you to take upon yourself! Two huge tips I have from the get-go: 1) stress intersectionality! Put a spotlight on overlapping groups of marginalized people, don’t let the people in your future GSA associate queer issues with only white, thin, able-bodied, wealthy people! 2) Make it interactive, and not only in the context of having an open discussion. One thing I think is really helpful is asking people what they know and what they want to know more about and what they just simply don’t understand, at the very beginning and as you move throughout the topics. This will definitely require ice breakers first, though. Ok I’m gonna list out some potential topics of conversation (in no particular order!) and add some resources and whatnot that I think you could find useful.

  1. Concepts of power, privilege, and oppression on a very basic and translatable level to work with. It’s really important for there to be a level of understand with these issues before moving into the complication of them in practice.
  2. Transgenderism (this is specific to a trans woman’s experience but http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/591565 it’s also very flashy), transmisogyny (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9I8euP4mEE&noredirect=1), non-binarism, gender as a social construct, androgyny (and complications: http://boldlygo.co/36/ this article is amazing in my opinion BUT there is a danger of people reading this and taking from it “androgyny is bad” and that’s not what I think you should be trying to get across; instead just stress that these issues are complicated and are deserving of critical thinking), body dysphoria, etc.
  3. Biphobia! Is really important to talk about! (I love this article: http://thoughtcatalog.com/gaby-dunn/2013/01/girls-dont-count/) An interesting conversation would be the difference between bisexual and pansexual. There’s a ton of media depiction of biphobia, especially in Glee w/r/t Brittany and Santana’s relationship, Blaine’s soiree with Rachel (if I remember correctly), etc. Something that plays a big key in both of those examples as well as the article is the assumption that in the end, any given person wants a man at the end of the day if queerness is even on the table, which is sexist as all hell.
  4. Asexuality (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKJ_MZNv2GY I like this video because it’s not a sexual person telling you what asexuality is, it’s a sexual person looking at the concept with care and grace and complicating it in a productive way… and she’s right, there’s a LOAD of resources out there, especially asexuality.org), asexual erasure, the possible dangers of growing up asexual when you don’t know that’s even an option
  5. Poverty and homelessness amongst queer youths, systems of criminalization against queer people http://srlp.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/disproport-incarc.pdf, http://srlp.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/disprop-poverty.pdf, http://srlp.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/disprop-deportation.pdf this can tie into the objectification of trans women and the accessibility of transition and why such a large focus on the physical change is counter-productive in trans discussions
  6. Queer sex ed! Non hetero-normative sex ed! I need better resources for this but Joseph Birdsong has done some gay sex ed on the answerly YouTube channel and Laci Green (though problematic) and Dr. Doe (sexplanations) both delve into queer sex.
  7. Polyamory and non-normative relationships is also interesting though it’s important to make a distinction that polyamory =/= queer! And that making those equivalent is problematic in some aspects. Same goes for other types of non-normative relationships, they do not necessarily blend into queerness.
  8. Allyship and why using ally as a label is problematic, white knights and white saviors, White Feminism (that is, feminism that refuses to acknowledges of trans feminine people and women of color and women in countries that are not America as relevant to the feminist cause), Macklemore’s Same Love and ACLU card and the concept of “tacit whiteness” (I think this phrase is interesting and helpful) and the act of making a marginalized group acceptable by incorporating them into the norm INSTEAD OF recognizing and respecting intrinsic differences as valid, etc. Also: http://www.crunkfeministcollective.com/2012/04/23/making-movement-mistakes-what-to-do-when-you-fk-up/
  9. Talk about queer figures in history! I am not good with this so I’ll list a few people who are up on the wall of the Q Center: Audre Lorde, Bayard Rustin, Leslie Cheung, George Washington Carver, Frida Kahlo, Yukio Mishima, etc. Maybe why it is that queer historical figures kind of begin and end with white cis people, specifically white cis men (I’m thinking about Harvey Milk).

I think… that’s a good starting point. This is so exciting, I hope everything goes well for you. Please feel free to send me a message if/when you get this started up! I’m really interested in how it turns out for you.

Good luck!


Q Ink! (Winter Quarter)

Q Ink is a creative writing group run by the Q Center library. We will help peer edit and give comments and critiques to your stories. It will be a free writing space where you can let your creativity flow onto a page or a laptop. It will be a place where writers don’t have to feel awkward or afraid of sharing queer oriented stories. Each week will have a theme for our writing. Come on by and we will help one another learn, gain ideas, and most importantly WRITE!

Meeting dates for winter quarter: 2/7, 2/14, 2/21, 2/28, 3/7, 3/14

From: 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM in the Q Center (HUB 315)

The theme for 2/7 is “Fun and Games!” and the theme for 2/14 is “Love and Lust”

More themes will be revealed later!


Not Presenting, But Present

Hi. I am, as far as I can tell, a non-binary trans girl, but I am by no means whatsoever “out”. If I am not presenting or in a safe environment/place in life to tell people, is it wrong of me to be in spaces, use resources, or participate in discussions meant for queer or trans people? [Does my problem make sense? I don't know, I feel really conflicted with myself.]

This definitely makes sense and it’s… complicated! I think first and foremost you need to keep yourself in mind. Obviously, you don’t need to ‘present’ to be trans. You don’t need to announce to a room that you’re queer – either through words or through dress – to validate what you know is true about yourself, or even what you think could be true about yourself. I absolutely do not believe that you should feel in any way required to remove yourself from situations that you want to be in or would benefit from just because you aren’t out. Those spaces are still there for you, those resources are still yours to use, and those discussions are about you and about people like you. There aren’t a lot of queer people who haven’t gone through life being in the closet in some way; queer life is not restricted to those who have the ability (and in many ways, the privilege) to wear it on their sleeves. ‘Presenting’ as trans is a complicated concept, anyway, but I don’t want to get into that. I think the biggest potential obstacle would be queer people who don’t perceive you as such being somewhat wary with your presence. Given the way you phrased this question, I don’t think this is even slightly going to be an issue, but I think the biggest thing to keep in mind as someone who is passing/perceived as not queer is to not talk over the queer people around you, in the spaces and in conversations. And that’s really just a precaution for a situation that I don’t think is very likely. Bein’ queer is hard, you deserve to think of and for yourself. That space is yours, those resources are yours, and when you feel comfortable, those discussions are yours as well! I hope this helped, and good luck!


Qmmunity Building! (Winter Quarter)

Join us in the Q Center Mondays this winter for Q-mmunity Building!
We’ll be having weekly events to build community, make friends, de-stress, and be super queer together!

You’re invited to CRAFTERNOON DELIGHT! Crafternoon Delight is a craft circle hosted in the Q Center (HUB 315) on Mondays from 12:30-1:30. Hang out with queers and make cute crafts! We will supply the materials, but feel free to bring some of your own.

The first time we meet will be Monday, February 3rd. We’ll be making patches!


Uncensored: Gender, Sexuality, & Social Movements in Global Health

Uncensored: Gender, Sexuality, & Social Movements in Global Health

REGISTER NOW for the 11th Annual
Western Regional International Health Conference (WRIHC)

April 4-6, 2014
University of Washington | Seattle, WA 
WRIHC Student Committee | UW Chapter of GlobeMed | UW Department of Global Health

Dear Friends of Global Health:

A team of 30 students from across the University schools and departments have organized a conference around powerful topics in the margins of most discussions in global health — a deeper understanding of social and political movements, diverse sexualities and sexual health, gender-based violence, reproductive rights, global discrimination against the LGBTQ community, income inequality, and universal access to health care. With over 20 sponsors, and an additional 11 co-sponsors, the conference will feature perspectives from multiple disciplines, cultures and communities. The Western Regional Health Conference is for anyone interested in deepening their knowledge base about global health, and the impact of movements to improve health globally!

The keynote speaker is Stella Nyanzi, PhD, with the Makerere Institute of Social Research at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Her current research is focused on the politicization of sexuality in contemporary Uganda – with an emphasis particularly on unpacking mainstream religious framing of and contestations about sexual citizenship. Dr. Nyanzi is also conducting research about the vulnerability and resilience of young refugee and displaced women in Uganda towards HIV/AIDS. She is a featured author in the book, African Sexualities, which features many scholars from Sub-Saharan Africa.

We are offering a special registration rate through January 31:

Special Deal through January 31: Students $40 | Non-students $75.
Early Bird February 1-March 20: Students $50 | Non-students $100.
Regular Rates after March 21: Students $75 | Non-students $150.
Register now to get this rate before it goes up! Your registration includes attendance at any and all events on a first come, first served basis including 18 dynamic and thought-provoking breakout sessions in six categories; continental breakfast; admission to an evening film screening; poster sessions; and coffee breaks where you can network with colleagues and prominent organizations in the field!

If you have any questions, please write us at info@wrihc.org.

We look forward to a great conference!

 

Best regards on behalf of the Student Planning Committee,

Mariel Boyarsky, MPHc
Western Regional International Health Conference (WRIHC) Coordinator

 

 


NEW Support Group: Lavender Circle

The Lavender Circle is an open, affirming place to explore our identities and experiences, and have questions answered amongst a supportive group of peers.

Join us for discussions framed around gender identity, gender expression, sexual identity development, and more.  This group is not framed around ally development.

 

When: Wednesdays, 4:30 – 5:30 PM*
Where: Q Center (HUB 315)

 

*The Q Center will be closed to the public during this group.  Participants should arrive within 10 minutes of the start time.

 


NEW Trans* & Gender Queer Support Group

Looking for camaraderie and support around gender identity and/or expression? Look no further! Ready, get set, GENDER! Every Tuesday from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Q Center you too can meet with others who wish to explore the continuum of gender identity and expression through discussion, support of one another, and connection. This support group is facilitated by two master of social work students interning at the Q Center. Lor and Liz bring to the group years of experience in facilitation, community organizing, and expertise in gender and sexuality.

 

 

When: Tuesdays 12:30-1:30 p.m.—Starting January 21, 2014

Where: Q Center (HUB 315)

What: Trans* & Gender Queer Support Group

Why: Because we like you!

 


Creating a Safe Sex Space

Dear Queer, I’m interested in sex–particularly, “s**king and f**king.” It’s hard to find safe spaces in the area, though. What can *I* do to create a safe space for others to s**k and f**k?

I’m sorry for taking so long with this question, I was just really having a hard time trying to answer it. This is by no means my area of expertise, and I wanted to make sure I had something of value to get back to you with! Logistically speaking, I have no idea how you would go about creating your own space. However, I’ve been given a resource that I think you would find a lot of use in. The Center for Sex Positive Culture is “a nonprofit, membership-based community center” that aims “to inspire and assist volunteers to produce experiential events where members can explore their sexual interests in a physically and emotionally safe environment.” It caters to a lot of different sexual interests, from what I’ve seen on their website they are very conscious and respectful of interpersonal differences, and they put a HUGE stress on consent and safety (which are the two things I would have been talking about if I hadn’t found out about the CSPC). It looks like a pretty intense place and I don’t know if it would align with your interests but if what they offer isn’t up your alley they still do hold non-sexual socials that are open to anyone, are free, and exist to answer all of your questions. You can also email them at dropin@thecspc.org for more information. I wish I could give you something more concrete, but I think this organization is at the very least far better suited to answer any questions you have than I am, and I’m positive that you could make some really good connections there. Let me know if you have more questions, and good luck!


Winter Social Events!

Q Center Winter Dawg Daze Social

The Q Center is a fierce primarily student-run resource center dedicated to serving anyone with a gender or sexuality. Come by on Thursday, January 9th at 3:30 to learn more about the Q Center, eat sweets, meet new people, and play video games!

oSTEM Meeting

oSTEM is back and ready for our first meeting of the quarter! The point of this meeting is to welcome you into the new quarter and introduce yourself to the oSTEM community. So come around to say hi to new friends or greet old ones. There will be food!

When and Where: Thursday January 9th 4:30-5:30pm @ the Q Center***

oSTEM stands for Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. We aim to unite the LGBTQQIA students studying science, technology, engineering, and math to foster a strong professional and social network and to promote LGBTQQIA awareness within the academic and professional communities.

***- oSTEM’s meeting will be held along with the Q Center’s Social


Being Queer at UW

Do you feel comfortable being queer at UW? I’m just wondering because I visited this fall and I would love to go to an accepting college and escape what seems like the only homophobic area in California. Also, thanks so much for this blog, it really helps.

Honestly, I really do. It’s hard for me to tell if this is a product of luck or if this is the overall climate of the campus, but I have had an almost exclusively amazing experience being queer. At the beginning of my time here, I went to two different events hosted by the Q Center: an open house and a welcome luncheon. I’m a really shy person so it’s not like I necessarily thrived and immediately made a ton of friends BUT some of the first faces I saw on campus outside of my dorm were queer faces, and there were a lot of them. If you do come here, I really recommend hitting up the things we put on during Dawg Daze (a week long string of stuff on campus for newcomers to get used to the place and have fun and etc). We did some info sessions this year and within the space of three different hour long get-togethers we had organized new clubs, people had found common interests (there were a LOT of people into roller derby at the first one), etc., and it was really cool to watch everyone mesh and figure their stuff out.

I took advantage of natl. coming out day last year to make a big ol’ heartfelt post on Facebook about my queer identity, and though I was by no means “in the closet” it was the first time I was really articulating it to EVERYONE in my life, not just the people I’m very close to. I lived in the Honors community housing, which was really amazing for a lot of reasons, and even though I hadn’t really made any deep connections at that point, over thirty people from my floor liked the post and affirmed my identities and were so unbelievably supportive in the way that I needed it most: casually.

My worst experience was, ironically enough, in a class focused on oppressed groups and their representation in Hollywood. I had to do a group final project on heteronormativity and about half of my group was so overwhelmingly homophobic and transphobic it was a real challenge to get through the class. I regret not talking to my teacher about it because I know they would have done something (which I’m about to follow up on), but I did at least find solace in the other half of the group, who were incredibly supportive and kind. The group was really heavily polarized and it’s not something I want to experience again.

That said, one of the best experiences I’ve had here was this past quarter, in my Psych 101 class with Kevin King. I was definitely not the most committed person to the class; for the first half of the quarter I sat in the near back and texted my friends instead of actually paying attention to what he was teaching and what I could learn from it. There came a point where he did an activity where students would first click in that they were male or female and then participate in an onscreen poll. It made me incredibly uncomfortable, and I emailed him about it the second I had a chance. Not only did he respond immediately, empathetically,  and graciously, but he then worked with me over the course of a few emails to figure out how he could change the way he talked about certain things to make them more queer friendly.

In the end I got him to start using phrases like “assigned sex” and the like, and it significantly improved my experience in the class. I started sitting about four rows from the front, my grades shot up, I was getting more out of the class, etc. I later introduced myself to him in person and I began to make a point of it to approach him after class to talk about a few of the issues he touched on in a more intersectional lens, which doesn’t really get to happen in the context of a 101 class. It was a really incredible experience for me! From this all I can say is I highly recommend talking to a professor if something rubs you the wrong way, even if it’s a professor with 400+ students per lecture. It’s worth your time, and there’s a lot of support to be found on campus; luckily the support isn’t hard to find.

I’m glad that this blog has provided something for you, and I’m happy to help! Thank you for keeping up with it. If you end up choosing the UW, we’ll be lucky to have you.