By Dylan Freeman-Grist
Last year, Markus Harwood-Jones, who interchangeably goes by Star and uses gender-neutral pronouns, could not take a job as the head of Ryerson’s Trans Collective due to his commitments being split by a film production.
At the beginning of this year, however, he took the job and has been working to expand the group, which officially launched at the beginning of fall semester.
“We’ve started to build some strong membership, we have about five or six regular members who come to our meetings and come to all of our events and a community of allies who suppourt all of our campaigns. I feel like we’re really a growing campus group,” said Harwood Jones.
Along with the pursuit of campaigns that advocate for the needs of Ryerson’s transgendered community, the collective – which meets every other Monday – was created so that transgender students could have a safe space to connect on campus.
“When you’re trans anywhere in the world, including Ryerson, [it] doesn’t feel like it’s made for you,” said Harwood-Jones. “We all sort of come together through this shared experience of feeling isolated and make space for each other.”
The main campaign the collective is focusing on is the fight for gender-neutral bathrooms at Ryerson.
As of now many transgendered students face anxiety and often forms of intimidation or violence for simply using washrooms on campus.
As a result many students in Ryerson’s transgender community simply avoid bathrooms all together, or walk great lengths to get to the limited gender-neutral options on campus.
By this time next year, the collective hopes to get the school’s administration on their side and have their assistance in converting an equitable amount of multi-stalled bathrooms on campus.
“Part of our goals include creating a campus which is more respectful and inclusive to transgender people on a whole,” said Harwood-Jones. “Not only binary people but non-binary people, not just trans men but also trans women and really approaching it in a way that recognizes the diversity of the trans community and says how can we make all of these people feel welcome at Ryerson.”