Q&A with Vivienne Dodd, our Trans and Non-Binary Awareness Officer
By Bethan Collins
Bethan – To start things off, would you mind introducing yourself?
Vivienne – I’m Vivienne Dodd, I’m Irish (I always open with that) and I’m the SU part-time officer for trans and non-binary awareness. I do sociology as a degree and I’m in my first year of the course. I’m just having a grand old time working through the pandemic and trying to make sure that all trans and non-binary students feel represented, of course!
B – What are the main parts of your role?
V – Making sure that there are events for trans and non-binary people to attend, ensuring that they feel welcomed, hosting LGBTQI+ events; making sure that the ‘T’ and the ‘I’ are represented because they’re sometimes forgotten. I’ve got a trans document that I’m working on at the moment, so that’s going to have a bunch of resources. There’ll be parts of it for cis people, explaining what trans is, and there’ll be part explaining what the University is doing in terms of helping people with gender identity. For example, the previous trans and non-binary awareness officer did some amazing stuff during his time in the role regarding gender neutral bathrooms on campus – there’ll be a map showing where these gender-neutral bathrooms are. The bill he passed states that every building needs to have at least one gender-neutral bathroom and that extends to new buildings too. The other sections are helpful resources and research points for trans people, so for example I’m currently trying to get my name changed legally by deed poll so there’ll be lots of information on that because I’ll write what I find out as I go along with my transition. There will be lots of links to websites and resources to help springboard your own transition, and lots of contact details for people within the uni will be included too. This will include the advice and support center, where people can go if they are experiencing any hate-crime.
B – What support is in place for trans and non-binary students?
V – We have TNBS (Trans and Non-Binary Support), a group that meets monthly where people can talk about any issues they might be having, or just a place to have a chat with other trans and non-binary people. I’m hoping that we could set up more concrete support to help students who are transitioning – this document is the beginning of that. We’re trying to help students be who they are, not only in their academic studies but also in their identity. I think that university is a time of finding, building and being yourself and I think that the uni wants to get behind that.
B – Is there online support for students who are currently in lockdown?
V – Yes. We have a Facebook group, so if there are ever any issues then students have an easy place to reach out and say, ‘hey, can I speak to you – I need some support with this,’ and then we can chat about things. The TNBS meetings are also being held online so that’s a great place to hear people discuss different things that they would like to see from us. For example, getting in touch with the university about the intranet personal profile. The profile displays your legal name, but we found out that you can change this to a preferred name by editing the personal details – the profile summary should automatically update. The uni are so accepting and ready to help, but sometimes things go under the radar – but that’s part of the reason I’m here, to help point these things out! That’s one thing I enjoy about being trans – you see societal attitudes to gender in a way that other people don’t, and that’s something I’m trying to bring as part of my role
B – What events do the SU have planned for LGBT+ history month?
V – We are currently in the process of teaming up with different charities. We’re hoping that we’ll have a different charity for each week of February and then we’ll do fundraising throughout. Earlier in the year I did a Big Gay Quiz over Zoom, which was a success, so we’re looking to do something like that again. We also have a Big Gay Group Chat so that’s a place for people to feel supported and like they can be themselves. With LGBT+ history month we’re just looking at how we can host events virtually, how we can support these charities and how we can show our support for the LGBT+ community.