It is with great sadness, and a great deal of frustration, that I have to inform you that I have been removed from the position of Queer Officer, at the University of Western Australia. Those who know me personally have known that I have been serving my term alongside a TERF, who has repeatedly misgendered me and otherwise made me feel unsafe in a so-called “Safe Space”. This is yet another experience of the broad left being unsafe for trans women, and for disabled people.
As someone who suffers from mental illness daily, to the point where it stops me from doing a variety of things that I would love to do – being deserted by the queer community in my time of need is unforgiveable. I have been to hospital in the past few months, because of my ailing health, and the desire to commit suicide. However, I have still taken on the duties of Queer Officer, and begun the process of long-term change within the University in changing name requirements of students, co-ordinating events that were poorly attended by UWA students [including a vigil for Mayang Prasetyo. How ironic, that they claim I have done nothing this semester, when they refuse to attend events to support trans women, women of colour, and sex workers?], and attempting to change toilet signs to gender non specific.
Instead of continuing this long process of work, they have removed me from my position, at the behest of the TERF whose term is very nearly up. A final strike to me, after rendering the space unsafe, causing me many anxiety and depressive attacks throughout the year, and finally taking my role in the community from me. The idea that disabled people should be responsible for making their community safer and hiding their disability to improve work output is an awful one. The onus of creating a safe space should be on individuals with power & privilege, not upon the disenfranchised members of society. I should not have been expected to make a dangerously unsafe space safer for myself – it should have been up to the members of the community for whom the space is already safe to do that.
However, the Queer Department at UWA is no longer safe, and probably won’t be for quite some time. I write this as a call to action – able-bodied & able-minded people – sort out your communities. Support individuals who are functioning poorly in a society which is clearly designed to disenfranchise them. Put the onus of creating a safe society, an equitable society, a just society upon yourselves, and relieve the burden that exists on disabled individuals. We will call you out if you do something wrong – listen to us, and follow our recommendations. It shouldn’t have to fall to individuals who are suffering to change the situation around.