On “Top 16 Talon-Approved Initiative on Campus”

In response to concerns expressed in regards to the inclusion of the Women’s Centre in the “Top 16 Talon-Approved Initiatives on Campus” article, The Talon would like to acknowledge that we are aware of and share concerns about the history of transmisogyny within the Women’s Centre. The Talon works to end all forms of oppression and violence, so oppression of and violence against trans people in our communities is unacceptable. We do not condone practices of feminism which are exclusionary.

The article was intended to show students spaces on campus that are committed to doing anti-oppressive work, and to endorse that commitment. We did not make this intent clear when posting the article, and we should have. However, regardless of our intent, and regardless of these spaces’ commitments to anti-oppressive values, people have experienced oppressive violence in all of the spaces listed in this article – and will continue to. This is not okay. And it is real.

One of our collective members, Blessing, who is also Vice President of the Women’s Centre, spoke to the concerns at an editorial collective meeting. She is aware of the Centre’s history of transmisogyny, and has affirmed her commitment to making the Women’s Centre safer for trans women. It is important to acknowledge that previous coordinators have stood firmly for trans women’s safety and inclusion within the space, while others have maintained commitment to trans exclusionary radical feminism. In spite of efforts of the former, trans exclusionary practices have prevailed in the space, including the transmisogynist inclusion of folks who are assigned female at birth who may not be women (implying that trans masculine folks are welcome in the space and affirming gender assignment at birth contrary to trans folks’ self-determination) mentioned in the comment on the article. Since this important call-out, The Women’s Centre has changed the statement on their website. In addition, we are aware of the fact that the Centre’s membership is changing and growing.

At this time, The Talon feels that the best response is not to remove the Women’s Centre from the list, but to continue to build a relationship with the Women’s Centre and encourage more trans inclusive feminisms and practices. We strongly urge all campus communities to be more accountable to their historical and ongoing organizing, in order to create safer, stronger, and more inclusive spaces for all UBC students. As the Talon Collective, we must constantly reflect on how we can do better for our communities. We hope that this notice helps clarify our position on this important matter, as well as highlight the fact that transmisogyny should never be an unspeakable form of violence.