Julius Jokikokko – SU LGBTQ+ Officer
I’m Julius Jokikokko, a journalism student at LCC and a freelance writer, as well as the LGBTQ Officer of our Students’ Union. I live in New Cross, read a lot about anarchist society structures and have the sweetest fluffy cat at home.
When I first ran for the officer role I felt there was a need for an LGBTQ officer with a strong alliance with commonly poorly understood and represented letters of the acronym, as I think the LGBTQ spaces at UAL have been cis male dominated.
This is very common and something we need to address. As a white, gay trans man I don’t tick all the boxes myself either but I wanted to help.
Talk to each other, not over each other.
As we build a more inclusive university we need to learn when to listen and when to speak up. There needs to be a plurality of voices in our arts, culture, media, education, all branches of life, and our organisations and classrooms need to reflect it.
This doesn’t mean we should tolerate bigotry – quite the opposite, actually. We need to make sure that we make voices heard. Talk to each other, not over each other.
That being said, minorities don’t have the responsibility to constantly explain themselves. They might do a fair bit of that elsewhere. Misinformed questions like “So you used to be a girl then?” or “What does it mean that you’re trans?” get surprisingly dull after a while. Many such questions can come across as offensive even if you don’t mean them that way. There’s often no way to ask those things without being offensive.
It’s good to do a bit of your own research. Focus on resources written by or at least with the community you’re looking into. Everyone is their own expert: you on you, me on me.
Getting the language right
Ask what pronouns people use
We live in a very gendered world where we’re trained to gender people and groups without much thinking. Our language often reflects that, so it’s important that we ask what pronouns people use and address everyone with gender neutral vocabulary when we’re not sure. In the States singular they was 2015’s word of the year. Groups of people don’t need to be called boys or ladies. I use folks a lot myself but that’s just me. Get creative.
Advice for staff
Be aware of the power dynamic that exists between students and staff
Staff must take the responsibility to treat all students with respect and be aware of the power dynamic and the authority you have. This also applies to any group leaders, officers, presidents and so on. Not respecting another person’s name and pronouns could possibly get classed as discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
Advice for students
If you’ve been misgendered, talk to someone about it
If you misgender someone you should apologise, correct yourself and move on. Try not to make the same mistake again. There’s no reason to dwell on it. Cis people get misgendered sometimes too.
If you get misgendered systematically by staff or students, it’s best to talk to someone. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to them yourself, you could contact your personal tutor or course leader.
• At the Students Union we have advice services and
• The university has an Equality and Diversity Officer for students who you can contact.
• You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or talk to me on facebook.