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YUSU Elections 2017: Rowen Ellis (LGBTQ Officer)

Image: the University of York Students' Union
Image: the University of York Students' Union
Image: the University of York Students’ Union

Rowen Ellis is running to be the LGBTQ Officer at the University of York Students’ Union.

What inspired you to run for the position?

After being a member of the LGBTQ Network for a year and a half I have seen some of the amazing and meaningful changes that the network has brought about. The current LGBTQ officer inspired me to run for this position to continue facilitating such a positive community and the amazing work that has been done recently.

What makes you different from the other candidates?

Since joining the network in September 2015 I have tried my hardest to attend every open meeting and numerous events, workshops and socials. During my time in the network I have come out as a transgender man, meaning that I have experience being part of the lesbian, transgender and queer sub-networks, which I feel has enabled me to have a very inclusive approach to running for LGBTQ Officer. At the moment I am the transgender convenor, but I have also served as the queer convenor in the past.

How would your policies change student life at York?

My policies are designed to be as meaningful and widespread for LGBTQ students at our university as possible. I hope to create positive change not just for the members of the LGBTQ network but also for all LGBTQ students on our campus. A key point of mine is to work closely with other liberation networks on various campaigns, which will hopefully increase BAME, disabled and Hes East students’ participation in our network.

What challenges do you expect to face in this position and how will you respond to them?

I fully expect to face some transphobia and general ignorance as a bisexual transgender man. However this isn’t anything new to me and I have several mechanisms and tools to tackle this. I also expect for many cisgender heterosexual students on campus to not fully grasp why we need a LGBTQ Officer and network so I do want to work hard to prove to the student body that our community has many issues to struggle with and tackle, both on and off campus, and therefore the role of officer is incredibly necessary.

What has been your most enjoyable experience at university?

I have absolutely loved being a member of the LGBTQ Network and Social Society during my time here! I never knew that I could instantly find such a warm, welcoming and hilarious community to befriend. It has definitely changed my university experience for the better, which is one of the main reasons why I am running for LGBTQ Officer and trying to give back. I highly recommend any and all LGBTQ students here at York joining the LGBTQ Network and/or Social Society!

What challenges do LGBTQ students face on campus?

From what my fellow LGBTQ Network members and I have talked about, many students on campus face heteronormativity, cisnormativity, transphobia and queerphobia in general. While acceptance of LGBTQ students is getting better and better on our campus I fully recognize that we have a ways to go to make the University of York as accepting and positive as possible. As a transgender student I personally experienced transphobia and have brainstormed the ways in which I can tackle this as LGBTQ Officer.

As told to Anna Thornton