The first week of its kind at the University, “Linked Oppressions,” was launched as a way to address the intersection of LGBT issues and those pertaining to racism. Political Educational Coordinator of LGBTOUT Aqeela Nanji states, “discussions pertaining to these oppressions were often, but not always, separated from each other. We wanted to expand discussions and bring attention to the interrelation of these issues.”
Although the University of Toronto as an institution has made many efforts to counter racism, homophobia and transphobia, Nanji notes that there continue to be “serious issues regarding oppression at UofT”. These issues range from the reported homophobic vandalism at UTSC, rampant homophobia and sexism within recent issue of the campus publication Toike Oike, and the University’s attempts to cut equity programs.
However, there are a number of campus resources and groups available for students looking to get more involved with LGBTQ and equity issues. Students can look to student course unions such as the ESSU , Women and Gender Studies Union, and the Sexual Diversity Students’ Union. In addition to student groups such as LGBTOUT, VicPride!, and Trans Inclusion Group, the St. George campus is also home to resources such as the Sexual and Gender Diversity Office and the Centre for Women and Trans People.
Running until Thursday November 25, the week offered a variety of programming, including the screening of the film “Two Spirits”, a compelling documentary about the murder of a Navajo transgender teen and Tuesday’s writing workshop with Farzana Doctor: a Toronto-based psychotherapist, consultant and author of the critically acclaimed novel, Stealing Nasreen. A panel discussion, “Racism, Homophobia, and Transphobia in Social Justice Movements,” was held on Wednesday, exploring such issues as how homophobia and transphobia can manifest within ethnic communities.
The last day of the series will feature a “Trans Workshop” from 3-5 pm in Sidney Smith Hall, Room 2117. The workshop will focus on topics surrounding the identity, issues, and politics within the trans community. “Linked Oppressions” will end with “Words of Resistance: Gender, Gender Violence, and Transphobia” Open Mic Night and a Potluck dinner at the Centre for Women and Trans People. Bringing food is mandatory for admission and refreshments will be provided.
"Linked Oppressions" was well received by various members of the student body. Says, Nanji, “I know this is an extremely busy time of the year, and the number of people who have shown up to our events has been great.” There were 100 plus people in attendance the film screening and over 35 at Wednesday’s panel.
“Identities are not singular,” asserts Nanji, “they are not based solely on one's race, one's gender, or one's sexuality, [but] are complex entities composed of multiple parts,” including race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, and class. “As identities are complex, so are the oppressions people face.”