Tag Archives: Stanford Students for Queer Liberation

(Queer) Activism at Stanford University

by Lina Schmidt, ’15

screenshot of survey
What is queer? and what does queer want? were two questions asked over the course of the class “Introduction to Queer Studies” (FEMST 120). Questions about what queer “means” are important to me because, as both a queer-identified individual and as a member of the campus group Stanford Students for Queer Liberation, parts of my identity are implicated in use of the word. The  meanings of queer can be a scholarly pursuit. However, the placement of queer in the title of a student group committed to “social change” makes its meanings relevant to the entire Stanford community, regardless of academic focus.

Described as a “discursive horizon” (Queer Theory 1), queer is fluid; a site of connotation rather than denotation. As a result, writings about queer — “Queer Theory” — are sometimes contradictory. The goal in reading, however, is not to produce a consistent worldview but to challenge entrenched ideas. For example, Annamarie Jagose suggests that 0ne use of queer is as an umbrella term for non-normative identities, serving as a contraction of “LGBTQIA.” Another writer, Cathy J. Cohen, suggests that queer has a more “radical potential” through its inclusivity not just of non-normative sexuality, but of differences in race, class, physical ability, and more (Punks 11-16). Continue reading

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Welcome to Transgender Awareness Week

by Elizabeth S. Q. Goodman, PhD student

Many student groups have pitched in with Stanford Students for Queer Liberation to bring the events of Transgender Awareness Week to campus.  This is the third year doing it, and every year is different.  Last year’s week was discussed here and here.

The week begins with a “trans* 101” panel, designed to introduce everyone and anyone to the experiences of the panelists, to give space for questions, and to give cis students (those who are not trans*) tools to use in supporting trans* folks.  We call that “being a trans ally”, but as many people will tell you, ally is not a thing you can be, it’s a thing you can strive to do.  The tools of allyship are a theme throughout the week and this post.

However, we believe that to focus only on the oppression that transgender people face will firstly not serve transgender students who want to attend without getting depressed or triggered, and secondly not point in the direction of the kind of respect that transgender people deserve.   Continue reading

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Dispelling Myths about Stanford Activism

by Holly Fetter, ’13

I’ve seen quite a few dudes in The Daily making assumptions about activist communities on campus, so I thought I’d attempt to counter a few common generalizations. (Note that, as there is not one unified activist space on campus, I am only offering my personal perspective informed by my personal experience with political work at Stanford).

1. There is more than one definition of an activist.

As someone who runs a “blog for activists,” I think the word “activist” is often misused and misunderstood. It’s a useful container, and it can be a powerful source of identity and solidarity, but it means different things to different people. Personally, I think an “activist” is someone who has a certain political consciousness, developed intellectually and/or experientially, that inspires a vision of justice, and a dedication to realizing that vision, both on an interpersonal and institutional scale. But someone else’s unique understanding of that word could be way different than my own. Similarly, activism is not limited to rallies and protests, the typical image of political action. Activism can be art, it can be event planning. It can be having tough conversations about current events. It can even be having certain beliefs about how the world should be, and living your life in accordance with those values. It isn’t always loud, it isn’t always articulate, and it definitely doesn’t always take place in White Plaza. Continue reading

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What We Think of Blue and Pink: a Discussion with Julia Serano

by Lina Schmidt, ’15


Stanford Students for Queer Liberation would like to invite you to “What We Think of Blue and Pink,” a discussion with activist Julia Serano on Tuesday, January 15th at 7:30 PM in the Black Community Services Center. Students of all disciples are welcome at Dr. Serano’s talk, which will examine social conceptions of gender — for example, the idea that pink is “for girls” and blue is “for boys.” Such prejudices are reinforced through media, literature, and even theories of psychology. Dr. Serano examines this in her book, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman On Sexism and the Scapegoating of Feminity.

Whipping Girl broke ground when it came out in 2007, because it provides a way of looking at gender that makes room for everyone’s differences and different experiences, while finding the underlying patterns. Continue reading

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Equality is not Justice

by members of Stanford Students for Queer Liberation (SSQL)

We are the group of students responsible for the “equality is not justice” flyers last week. Because we are interested in both raising awareness and increasing understanding, we collaborated on a brief summary of each topic listed on the posters.

This article is meant to be shared! However, it is not meant to be the last word on any of the topics below: our foremost goal is to encourage discussion within the Stanford community.

Interested in continuing the conversation? Please consider submitting your ideas to STATIC!

Fear is not governance
Here, we are referring to the illusion that control is gained through fear or fear tactics and, furthermore, that legitimate government rule can be claimed when the majority of the population lives in a state of fear. Moreover, we are addressing the fact that fear is a tactic utilized by the United States, whether conscious or unconscious. Consider, for example, the reaction you have when you see a police officer. Are you afraid or comforted? Why? Also consider jails, which – though they seem to promise safety – are also an implicit threat by the state.

Apathy is not neutral
When we say that apathy is not neutral, we mean that – in many cases – apathy is a privilege. When we choose not to educate ourselves or to do nothing, it is with the knowledge that our lives will not be adversely affected – and not everybody is in such a position.
Another implication of apathy is the fact that, when there is apathy on the part of the state, entire groups of people may suffer. When legislators pay less attention to the well-being of groups such as trans* people of color, for example, this does not represent a simple oversight: it reflects a lack of commitment to the survival of a group that is consistently persecuted in this country.

Continue reading

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The Real Zach Schudson

by Alok Vaid-Menon, ’13

With Stanford Students for Queer Liberation, I invited Zach Schudson to come and perform in Terra House during Winter Quarter. I stumbled on Zach’s work through Facebook and was immediately inspired by his body-positive, queer-positive message and the way he was using mainstream pop music to communicate radical critiques. In person Zach was just as eloquent and charming. His performance was a bunch of fun! I wanted to interview Zach to hear more about his thoughts behind the music.

AVM: Tell us about yourself. Who is the real Zach Schudson?
ZS: This is always the most intimidating question on online dating sites and so I always make a joke. I guess that’s a good summary of me though. When people ask who I am, I make a joke and avoid the question. I’m totally comfortable with that. I think confidence and clear-cut answers are overrated. Placing excessive value on them privileges a kind dominant, go-getter attitude that just does not work for me. I like spinning my web out of avoided questions and humor-based defenses. My friend Sarah recently described me really well: “You and I are a lot alike – really chill about other people and really neurotic about ourselves.” My Myers-Briggs type is INFJ, for those with some interest in personality psychology.

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Why Should I Care About Trans* Awareness Week?

by Alok Vaid-Menon, ’13

As a member of Stanford Students for Queer Liberation, a queer activist group on campus, I’ve been organizing Beyond the Binaries: Transgender Awareness Week 2012 for the past few weeks and I want to contribute my thoughts on why you should care that Stanford is hosting Beyond the Binaries.

1. Chances are you know very little about transgender experience

You may  have several gay friends and resonate deeply with their struggles. You may identify as an ‘ally,’ and believe that all gay people should have the right to marry and serve in the military. Yet, I doubt that you know much about transgender identity, politics, and the experience of transgender people in our country It’s not your fault. Openly trans* people make up a very small percentage of our population. You don’t learn about trans* people in class. There are only a few out trans* students at our school.  This is why it’s important to have a Transgender Awareness Week. Most people (even in the ‘LGBT’ community) are blithely ignorant about transgender issues. In coordinating a week dedicated to trans* experiences we highlight narratives, issues, and perspectives that are often lost or neglected in our dominant culture. Continue reading

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Roll out for Intersections!

Intersections Week 2011 will explore the relationship between LGBTQ and racial identities. Each event was carefully designed to be open, accessible, and meaningful to all attendees. This is a week for us to delve into our differences and our similarities as activists and as people. If we as a student body could roll out at 4 a.m. in the name of college football, let’s roll out for addressing and ending oppression on our campus and beyond!

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