Statement on creating a safe and inclusive environment that promotes civil and open discourse
We are a group of students who are concerned about the recent incident of a student who put up parody posters that trivialised the trans* identity of the trans* community and the subsequent justification provided for his actions.
While we acknowledge and appreciate the student’s intention to encourage reflection on issues relating to the LGBTQ community, we believe that there could have been more appropriate and sensitive methods to do so. The parody posters trivialise the trans* identity of trans* individuals, by degrading it as a form of wordplay in the student’s own words “for fun… out of pure lightheartedness”. Unfortunately, for many trans* individuals, the “fun” comes at the expense of their wellbeing and safety as the posters essentially undermine their transgender identity as one that can be mocked and ridiculed.
The parody posters contribute to the violence and discrimination faced by the trans* community. According to Oogachaga’s Homophobia and Transphobia Survey in 2012, 94.4% of transgender females reported suffering from abuse and discrimination based on their gender identity. In the same report, the most common reported of abuse of discrimination experienced by transgender individuals was the passing of transphobic remarks and the use of derogatory names due to their gender identity.
While we respect every person’s right to free expression, we hope that everyone can not only express themselves freely but responsibly and kindly too. This is not an attempt to silence or target any individual or opinion but an appeal to every member of our school community to contribute to a safe and inclusive environment for everyone.
In May this year, NUS Provost, Prof. Tan Eng Chye, sent an email to all NUS faculty members, staff and students affirming that, “NUS embraces faculty, staff and students regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality, political beliefs or sexual orientation.”i Following this precedence, we appeal to the school community to contribute towards creating a learning environment where members of our community can express ourselves openly and sensitively, and in a civil and inclusive manner which is encouraging of positive engagement, especially on potentially contentious issues.
Thank you very much.
Cheryl Nazik Cosslett Chia Jie Lin
Chng Yi Kai
Jessica Kah Ying Lee
Lu Zhao Boyu
Teo Xiao Ting
i. Prof Tan Eng Chye. “Provost’s Letter to NUS Faculty Members, Staff and Students” Message to NUS Faculty Members, Staff and Students. 5 Mar. 2014. E-mail.