UVic pledges to work to make campus safer for trans community
On Jan. 8, a student who has asked to remain anonymous was studying late on UVic’s campus in the Clearihue Building. After finishing their studies for the evening, they went to the bathroom where they discovered some stickers posted on the inside of one of the stalls. While they thought the stickers were merely advertising at first, they soon realized that the messaging had a different goal.
“I recognized that they were anti-trans messages,” they said in an interview with the Martlet. “I thought it made for a very unsafe environment.”
After removing the stickers from the bathroom, they contacted the UVSS as well as UVic’s Equity and Human Rights Office (EQHR). They also approached campus security, whom they gave the stickers to.
“I was definitely affected,” the student said, adding that it took a lot of their time and effort to contact the appropriate people on campus in their attempt to prevent others from seeing the stickers.
This student was likely one of the first people to see the messages that were posted not only in some of the Clearihue Building’s washrooms, but also on signs outside of the Student Union Building and possibly other areas of campus. Campus security has since removed evidence of these messages.
“EQHR has reached out to the email displayed on the posters to tell the creators/distributors of this messaging that it is unacceptable and considered an egregious act of discrimination,” said Karen Johnston, the associate director of public affairs, to the Martlet. “If the university’s values and expectations were not clear to this individual or group before, they should be now.”
“The recent graffiti on campus carries harmful and false messages that we must counteract immediately,” said the UVSS statement. “Genitalia does not define womanhood, nor any other gender identity; not all women have penises and those that do not are just as valid as those that do. Trans women are women.”
Effy Taylor, the pride representative on the UVSS board, was involved in writing the UVSS statement and spoke with the Martlet about the incident.
“I hope [UVic] takes the transphobia on campus more seriously,” said Taylor. “We’ve noticed a definite kind of culture, or like a problem of transphobia on campus and even in the Greater Victoria community.”
This incident comes after UVic Pride released a statement in early December stating that they had recognized an increase in violence towards trans people on campus as well as online.
Johnston told the Martlet that the university plans to make UVic a safer environment for trans people and has made that work a priority for 2022.
“We need to drown out the voices of hate and celebrate our diverse community. The university’s support and allyship should be louder, stronger, and more powerful than anonymous, hateful, and ambient violence,” said Cassbreea Dewis, the executive director of EQHR, to the Martlet. “In partnership with colleagues and partners across campus, I commit to amplifying the diverse voices that need to be heard.”
Taylor said that if students are on campus and see messaging that they believe to be transphobic, they should report it to campus security and connect with the UVSS and the university.
“If [students] see active cases of harassment or transphobia, speak up, defend trans people,” said Taylor.
The Martlet has not reprinted photos of the messages or the messages themselves that this article is about as that act would go against our commitment to not print oppressive copy.