Sexual & Gender Fair promotes diversity

AMS VPUA Thomas Pritchard gives speech, shares story on gender reassignment surgery

EQuIP educates students at the Sexual and Gender Diversity Fair, held at Grant Hall on Thursday.
EQuIP educates students at the Sexual and Gender Diversity Fair, held at Grant Hall on Thursday.

Last night, student-run group Education on Queer Issues Project (EQuIP) held a Sexual and Gender Diversity Resource Fair in Grant Hall, welcoming students and community members of all identities.

More than 20 groups were set up at tables, ranging from health and wellness organizations to social groups.

The Reelout Arts Project, Men Who Like Feminism and Queen’s Pride were some of the organizations represented at the event.

Thomas Pritchard, AMS vice-president of university affairs and Arig Girgrah, assistant dean of student affairs, spoke at the event.

Both talked about their personal involvement dealing with accessibility and inclusivity in the LGBTQ and feminist communities at the University. Pritchard spoke to his own personal experience undergoing hormone replacement therapy, as well as a surgery which he underwent three weeks ago.

“I wanted to link my experience to barriers which I, and many others, have faced both in the education systems as well as in the healthcare system,” he said.

Ashley Ratcliffe, a member of the Levana Gender Advocacy Centre, helped to organize the event.

This student-funded Queen’s organization is devoted to fighting gender oppression and advocating broad ideas of gender empowerment.

“It can be extremely intimidating to independently reach out to LGBTQ [and] feminist groups and allies,” she said.

“This fair was about breaking down the logistical boundaries associated with accessing information, while creating a single, supportive environment of sharing and connecting.”

The Reelout Arts Project, a Kingston LGBTQ film festival, had a booth and promoted their resource library located at Sydenham Street United Church.

“We run a resource library with books and movies on sexual and gender diversity that is open to the entire community, for ten dollars a year,” Matt Salton, the executive director of Reelout, said.

Salton said the fair is important, especially for undergraduate students.

“Students who are new to the area may be questioning their gender or sexual orientation, and may be overwhelmed [with] where to go for help or maybe feeling hindered to ask for help,” he said.

Men Who Like Feminism, a group dedicated to increasing awareness about healthy masculinity on campus, was also present at the fair.

Dan Vena, a representative for the group and a Masters student in gender studies, shared the goals of the group.

“Just like TK [Thomas Pritchard] was saying that he doesn’t have a space to talk about trans identities, and we have some trans members as well, myself included, so we want to open up the dialogue to everyone,” he said.

Another member of the group, Matt Ventresca, added his goals and plans in the near future regarding awareness of masculinity issues on campus.

“[We want to] figure out ways ways that we can promote healthy, inclusive and anti-oppressive masculinities,” he said.

Ventresca said that they will be holding a series of events throughout the year with speakers to open up discussion regarding these issues.

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