An upcoming event series will bring academics, educators, students, and artists together at The University of Winnipeg to unpack contemporary issues facing transgender, Two-Spirit, and gender non-conforming communities, and to celebrate their resiliency and work towards an inclusive, discrimination-free future.
Building Trans Solidarity consists of five events taking place in late September and early October. UWinnipeg will host two topical roundtable discussions and a film screening. The UWSA will present a fourth event, a talk titled, Sex, Gender, and Identity: How to Be a Better Trans Ally.
We really want to build these conversations into the fabric of everyday campus life.
Dr. Angela Failler
UWinnipeg’s downtown neighbour, Ace Art Inc., will host a fifth event, a cultural showcase featuring readings, artworks, and performances by trans, Two-Spirit, and non-binary artists and writers.
“It’s going to be educational, but it’s also going to be celebratory,” Dr. Angela Failler, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Culture and Public Memory, said of the event series. “It will help show the breadth of our communities and that even though we’ve got strengths inside of the University, a lot of community building is happening in other venues in the city too.”
Dr. Failler is a member of the UWinnipeg 2SLGBTQ+ Solidarity Collective, which organized the upcoming event series and several campus events this past spring. The Collective’s goal is to protect and strengthen trans rights on campus by facilitating ongoing scholarly and community conversations.
“It’s about showing up and being present for our students, and building on the work that they’re doing as well,” Dr. Failler said. “We want the campus to be a place where people thrive.”
The format of the Building Trans Solidarity event series, which features voices from the academy, K-12 education, libraries, and community organizations, is intended to reach a wide audience and to sustain, not just spark, conversations.
“People learn in different ways and we need different kinds of entry points,” Dr. Failler said. “We really want to build these conversations into the fabric of everyday campus life.”
The event series also serves as a reminder that 2SLGBTQ+ advocacy doesn’t end with Pride Week.
“Two-Spirit, trans, and non-binary students and staff have a right to know and feel that UWinnipeg is a safe and inclusive space all year round, not just in June,” said Brie Villeneuve, a trans student, Collective member, and The University of Winnipeg Students’ Association’s 2SLGBTQ+ Students’ Director. “This multi-day event is a simple way to signal to the community that there are people here committed to our safety, liberation, and factual education regarding the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Trans solidarity and allyship is a 365-day commitment, as we exist every day and continue to face oppression and barriers daily. Kickstarting the event in the fall will hopefully encourage and prompt further conversations to last all year.”
Daily news headlines point to the importance of organizing events that strengthen and equip 2SLGBTQ+ communities and allies.
“There’s been a rise in transphobia and widespread attacks on sexual and gender diversity,” Dr. Failler said. “These attacks aren’t only about sex and gender. They’re connected to broader and worrying trends that restrict the agency and self-determination of all kinds of equity-deserving groups.”
The event series offers an opportunity to hear directly from leading 2SLGBTQ+ voices working in various cultural arenas.
“I think it is really crucial that we make room for trans and gender non-conforming folks to narrate our own lives and experiences,” Dr. Failler said. “We are not simply victims of the different systems that we are challenging.”
The schedule for the Building Trans Solidarity event series is as follows:
Saturday, September 23
- Education Roundtable: Supporting 2SLGBTQ+ Students in Our Schools and Libraries. Q & A to follow. Eckhardt Gramatté Hall, UWinnipeg, 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Register here to attend in person and register here to attend virtually.
- Film Screening: Framing Agnes (2022), Zoom Q & A with director Chase Joynt and cast member Jules Gill-Peterson to follow. Eckhardt Gramatté Hall, UWinnipeg. 6:30 p.m. Register here.
Wednesday, September 27
- Keynote Talk: Sex, Gender, and Identity: How to Be a Better Trans Ally by Brie Villeneuve, UWSA 2SLGBTQ+ Students’ Director. Learn about the basics of sex and gender, and their relation to identity. This talk will cover gender identity and expression, sex traits, dysphoria, pronouns, names, and trans allyship. Event runs from 12:30 p.m. to 1:20 p.m. in the UWSA Hive.
Sunday, October 1
- Cultural Event: Another Place// hosted by Ace Art Inc. (206 Princess Street). An evening of Two Spirit, queer, and trans poetry and sound art. Doors 7:00 p.m. Show 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, October 5
- Virtual Roundtable: Transphobia Right and Left. Event begins at 6:00 p.m. Register here.