Julius Jokikokko

Julius Jokikokko – SU LGBTQ+ Officer

“Everyone is their own expert: you on you, me on me”.
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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.
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Promoting inclusivity

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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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Contacts
• 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 lgbtq@su.arts.ac.uk or talk to me on facebook.

Meri Karhu

Julius Jokikokko speaks to Meri Karhu, BA Fine Art, UAL
meri
“On my first day of my BA I found two other non-binary people. It was really, really good that we found each other on the day and formed a good little network of support amongst ourselves,” says Meri Karhu, an agender fine art student at UAL.

“That was a really big and important thing when to the rest of people I still have to explain a lot.” This is nothing new, nor does it only happen at our university. “There’s a lot of people that use very gendered language,” they say. “I know I get constantly misgendered and I don’t always feel particularly comfortable telling people what my pronouns are.”

As a large arts university, UAL has a variant, vibrant student body which might represent a group of people that are less likely to conform in stereotypes. “You’ll see lots of people dressing in ways that general society would probably attack them for,” says Karhu. “I do feel that there’s a lot of non-conforming gender expression happening here and I feel like there’s also a sense of safety with that.”

However, there is a sense of silence around this topic: the non-conformity is there, but there isn’t much talk about it. The curriculum doesn’t represent the plurality of identities in the student body nor in the industries either.

“I really want to see a lot more diversity, a lot more art that is more politically engaged, instead of art which sees protest almost as a quirk instead of a form of survival.”

It can be a hit or miss: some seminars and lecture series are more inclusive than others. “We talk a lot about dismantling the gender binary. That feels very good, that it’s the part of something that’s happening here,” Karhu says about one part of their course.

Finding support as a non-binary student

“I’d encourage people to have a look at who’s on the UAL non-binary and trans Facebook group and if they feel like they could send those people a message if they feel like they want to talk to someone,” Karhu says. “And come to the events that are happening if they are brave enough!”

While there didn’t used to be much support available, the LGBTQ society and the Students’ Union are organising visibility projects such as the trans awareness week and peer support like the society’s monthly meet-ups.

Supporting our non-binary community

For us allies, supporting our communities doesn’t need to be difficult. “I find that for me I feel the support in little things,” Karhu says.

Being able to choose a gender neutral title in your official papers or being given the possibility to declare your pronouns when you’re introducing yourself to a group of students can be a good start. But it’s also important to remember that no one should be outed without their consent – this is to reveal someone else’s gender identity to other people who might not know about it.

And we’re moving forward. “I’m already noticing a lot happening,” says Karhu. The Students’ Union campaigned successfully to introduce gender neutral toilets at all campuses, and we’re organising events for our non-binary and trans students. “There’s already a lot of good effort that makes me really happy to see that,” they say. But a lot of work needs to be done. “I was expecting it to be like a revolutionary seedbed.”

Charlie Craggs

London College of Fashion alumna Charlie Craggs was awarded the 2016 Nesta New Radicals Award for her work as a trans equality campaigner. Her project ‘Nail Transphobia’ aims to challenge transphobia…one beautifully manicured nail at a time.

charlie craggs.fw

Tell us about Nail Transphobia…how did you come up with the concept and what does it involve?

It actually started as my final major project at LCF funnily enough, but it picked up a lot of attention and press and I saw there was a need for it, so I kept it going after graduation. The campaign basically tackles transphobia through nail art; I travel around the UK with my pop up nail salon and I’m brought in by public spaces like museums and galleries and strangers can come and get their nails done for free. This gives me a chance to sit down with a person who has usually never met a trans person before yet probably has a lot of misconceptions about us, and bond with them while I paint their nails- they can ask me questions about trans stuff and I can teach them how to be an ally but the most important part of the interaction for me is just having a laugh and a chat because what I’m really trying to do with my campaign is humanise the issue and show that trans people are just normal (actually pretty nice) people. I’m trying to change hearts and minds a nail at a time, so that people go away with more than just a manicure- they go away an ally.

Students have said they are looking for a sign that says ‘Trans students – welcome to UAL’ – what was your experience like at LCF?

Coming from a super homophobic/transphobic tough all boys school LCF was the first time I felt both comfortable and safe enough to be my authentic self, however there were a few instances of ignorance/casual transphobia, but on the whole the vast majority of my tutors and peers were really accepting and supportive. I’m so glad to have studied at UAL.

What advice would you give students who may be thinking about their own gender identity?

There’s nothing to even think about, if you’re trans, you need to transition (so long as you feel safe enough to), reach out to the people who you know will support you; friends, family, tutors. Despite what I said about the few cases of ignorance at LCF, on the whole as trans people we’re so lucky to be studying at such an LGBT friendly institution, so it’s the perfect time and place to transition. Check out the Support of Trans students guide that UAL have created.

What do you think staff could do to promote trans awareness and equality?

Perhaps on induction, staff could highlight resources like the guide for trans students and also highlight that there is no place for prejudice of any kind in UAL.

You were given the number one ‘New Radical’ award by The Guardian in recognition of your work – are there any ‘radicals’ who have particularly inspired you?

My two biggest inspirations, both as an activist and as a transwoman, are Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson, two trans women who were at the forefront of the gay and trans rights movement but are often forgotten about. If you’re an LGBT person and you don’t know who these 2 women are, go change that, because they changed the world for you.

nailtransphobia.com

@charlie_craggs

Sara Davidmann

Sara Davidmann is an artist/photographer based at London College of Communication. Since 1999 she has taken photographs in collaboration with people from UK trans* and queer communities.

Much of Davidmann’s research has been carried out in collaboration with people who self-identify beyond the polarised categories of female or male. Davidmann’s doctoral thesis (2007) explored the lived experiences of four people through methods of collaborative photography and interview in dialogue with theoretical approaches.

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Ken. To be destroyed. Image copyright Sara Davidmann

Sara’s most recent work, Ken. To be destroyed has been exhibited internationally.  ‘Ken. To be destroyed’ arises out of a family secret – that Davidmann’s uncle Ken (K) was trans*. The family attempted to erase this from history and the family photograph album depicts K as male.

Read more about Sara’s research project Beyond Male and Female

Visit Sara’s website. www.saradavidmann.com

Grayson Perry

 

Grayson Perry was appointed UAL Chancellor in 2015. Grayson, who is widely recognised as one of the UK’s leading contemporary visual artists, has lectured at the University, and is a regular attendee at the University’s Summer Shows. Central Saint Martins students design a dress for Grayson every year, based on a brief written by him. He usually makes public appearances as ‘Clare’, and has explored his identity in this way since he was a child. A lot of Grayson’s work explores intersections between concepts of masculinity and social class and he has helped to bring debates about gender identity into mainstream media. He recently presented a three-part television documentary Grayson Perry: All Man, exploring the subject of masculinity by visiting people living out some of the most stereotypical macho roles in British society.