Trans Awareness Week at Pembroke

An interview with Daisy Corder, LGBT officer for Pembroke's JPC.

This year you’ve worked with college to set up a Gender Expression fund, which provides students with the means to buy gender-affirming items. How did this come about and why is it important to have?

The gender expression fund allows students to explore their gender expression freely, without the pressure of spending money on often expensive items. The money comes from the JPC budget, and can be anonymously applied for, and the fund is available to purchase a wide range of items. It’s really important to ensure students feel supported to explore their gender expression.

Trans Awareness Week is coming up, with a variety of events planned. Why is awareness specifically such an important part of LGBT+ activism?

Trans Awareness week is important to uplift the experiences, joy and achievements of trans people in addition to raising awareness of the struggles and violence that many trans people face. Pride and protest have always been an important part of queer culture and activism.

There has been a lot of resistance across colleges to students flying trans flags. This resistance seems to be based on single complaints which college use against students. It seems unfounded, and it feels like it is targeting trans students and allies by deliberately taking issue with something which provides a lot of joy and support for trans students.

In what other ways can Cambridge colleges support their trans and gender diverse students?

There are many ways colleges can do this! Colleges can set up gender expression funds, have gender neutral toilets, and have gender neutral dress codes for events. It is also important to have counsellors who are experienced with trans issues.

Is a Cambridge college an effective space within which to mobilize people for social change? Why/why not?

The way the college system is designed makes it extremely difficult to make institutional changes because it is difficult to know who holds institutional power and responsibility. It also makes large scale change difficult to implement because power is distributed so differently between colleges and university. However, college does allow for really positive small-scale change and support to be implemented, although this means that there is great disparity across the colleges.