Supporting the Motion for NUS to have a full time paid trans officer. Don’t coopt my disabled voice.

I am writing this blog both personally and in my capacity as disabled students’ representative on the NUS LGBT committee. I was intending to hang back on this campaign due to stresses from other sources but am so upset already by what I am seeing of the debate surrounding this motion that I might as well voice that.

Content notes for cissexism, poor healthcare experiences, death, erasure.

In particular I want to address an argument that keeps coming back – the argument that creating a full-time paid transit officer position is selfish and of detriment to other liberation campaigns.

There are so many problems with this argument.

Firstly, it would be disrespectful of the other liberation campaigns’ autonomy for trans students – officially as the LGBT campaign or otherwise – to ask for more officers for campaigns they do not define into. Many of us have made it clear that we would fully support such requests from the other liberation campaigns should they be made – you can see many of these pledges on #NUSLGBT15; it is not our place to make these requests if we do not fall into the liberation group concerned. Indeed, it would be intensely problematic if we did so.

(On the subject of pledges of support, you can also find many of these for the payment of Nations LGBT officers on the same hashtag. However, it is worth meeting that the funding for Nations liberation campaigns does not come out of the same bucket as that for national liberation campaigns. Rather, it comes out of the budget of the nation concerned.)

Secondly, this characterisation of trans people as selfish is totally disgusting. Trans healthcare in this country is in crisis, with the number of people on waiting lists for some Gender Identity Clinics larger than the number of people they are actually seeing. The length of time we wait, not only to be seen by a GIC but also for any surgical interventions we have would be utterly vilified – and rightly so – in most other healthcare specialisms. It should be vilified here too. And the results are as serious here as in other specialisms. Trans people are dying. And the NUS is willing to spend thousands of pounds on billboards for elections but not to potentially help save people’s lives. And our poor experiences extend beyond transitional healthcare. Time and time again we are denied our right to effective healthcare delivered in a respectful and dignified way. A multitude of ailments are reduced to symptoms of our transness. We are outed by waiting room staff or announcement equipment. We are misgendered and placed in wards which do not match our identity. Sometimes – particularly in GUM clinics – even the waiting room is a gendered, and again we are sent inaccurate ones. (Action for Trans Health have started a blog documenting these experiences. Read about it here: http://actionfortranshealth.org.uk/2015/04/17/trans-health-rants/.)

This is literally about survival. Wanting to survive is not selfish.

Thirdly, what ever happened to solidarity? Some of us even – surprise surprise – fall into multiple liberation groups. But even if we don’t we should be backing each other up.

Don’t believe anyone who says that creating a trans-officer position would be of detriment to disabled students. I am a disabled student too.

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