Hi everyone, I’m Maya Ishku and I’m your Trans Welfare Officer. It’s been really nice to be able to make positive change at UWE for trans+ students here! But recently I realised, I haven’t actually given any sort of update on what I’ve been doing the past few months. So, for anyone who’s considering this role in the future or just for anyone who’s curious as to what being a Trans Welfare Officer is like, this blog will let you know about what I’ve been up to, what challenges I’ve faced and what I hope to continue doing in this position.
Since getting the role in late November last year, I have been part of executive meetings with other part time officers, vice presidents and the UWE’s current president, Augusta. Here, we make decisions about student ideas and touch base about what we have been up to and share ideas on projects to collaborate on. Usually, student ideas that are submitted via the SU page don’t get enough number of votes to be enacted without further approval, so the members of the executive meetings vote on whether an idea should pass.
Outside of these meetings, I have made a survey that trans students are able to fill out in order to give feedback on what they want to see improved on at UWE. I’ve shared it on bunch of socials and, after quite a while, been able to promote it via the SU. The feedback I’ve gathered through the survey has been really helpful in honing in on what I can do for trans students at UWE, and the most popular concern was about having gender neutral toilets, which I aim to write a blog about soon.
I have also worked on promoting the LGBT+ Society’s trans socials through the SU, which happen monthly and you can find out when the next one will be here. Most recently, the UWE Wellbeing Services have reached out to me about how they can improve their services for trans students. For that, I have been gathering feedback from trans students about their experiences with the Wellbeing Services, and been able to use my knowledge from my psychology course about LGBTQ+ inclusive therapies and effective practice.
Some challenges I’ve faced over the past couple of months have been balancing how much I do for this role, as well as keep up with my third year modules, my dissertation psychology project and my own mental wellbeing and life outside of university. Luckily, the SU is very understanding of busy schedules and emphasizes that a student should not feel that this role is overwhelming them. I’ve also noticed that communication and things like setting meetings with the SU can be a slow procedure, which hasn’t made promoting things any easier. And, at the beginning, it was a little scary to know what I was actually supposed to be working on as a Trans Welfare Officer, but creating the survey has been massively helpful and hopefully I can share the feedback from that with the next Trans Welfare Officer who comes after me.
Currently, I hope to continue working with the UWE Wellbeing Services in informing how the services can be more inclusive towards trans students. I have a meeting with the Equality and Diversity Lead for the Wellbeing Services and I believe I should be giving feedback on the draft training materials a week or so after. I also aim to write a short blog about the very easy procedure that trans students can go through in changing their name at UWE in hopes to spread awareness about it, as a lot of trans students have faced a lot of difficulty in the past regarding this. And, I want to write another short blog post about the gender neutral bathrooms at UWE, what I’ve been doing, what is already in place and the current constraints and plans.
So, that’s all from me so far!
If you’d like to contact me, I’m available at Maya2.Ishku@live.uwe.ac.uk,
I hope everyone has a lovely Block 2!
Maya Ishku (she/her)
Maya Ishku, Trans Welfare Officer