May 17, 2021

May 17 Marks The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia

Joe Kadi (he/him) speaks about the opportunity to affirm 2SLGBTQ+ people from around the world

The Faculty of Arts Equity and Diversity (EDI) committee acknowledges May 17, The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. For Gender and Sexuality Studies (GSXS) instructor Joe Kadi (he/him), today marks an exciting opportunity to affirm 2SLGBTQ+ people from around the world. As a queer and trans member of the South West Asian and North African (SWANA) community, Kadi’s transformative activism and teaching can help reshape one’s views on sexuality, feminism, and gender identities. In his view, May 17th can serve as a forum for sharing best practices, resources, and opportunities to support marginalized groups. For example, Kadi spotlights an inspiring non-profit organization called the Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC) which is actively involved in supporting the health of homosexual, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit, and queer men. One of Kadi’s former students, Spencer Belanger, a graduate of the GSXS program, is now Prairies Regional Manager for the group. 

Learning is a Critical Component to Becoming a Genuine Ally:

As lifelong learners, we can all benefit from the use of books to alter our perceptions of the world.  By way of book recommendations, Kadi recommends a number of novels that highlight indigenous issues, racism, classism, sexism, and ableism in relation to 2SLGBTQ+ peoples:

  1. Jonny Appleseed - Joshua Whitehead, Two-Spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1)
  2. The Thirty Names of Night - Zeyn Joukhadar, SWANA writer
  3. Trumpet - Jackie Kay, African-Scottish writer and poet

Additionally, Kadi encourages people to review, "the definitions of anatomical sex, gender, and sexual orientation" without conflating their meanings. When possible, he also encourages his colleagues to respect people's preferred pronouns, by normalizing the process of sharing your pronouns. By maintaining this simple process, Kadi believes we can lessen the incredible burden faced by non-binary and transgender people. This has become common practice in the newly renamed GSXS program, where the program’s pedagogy is centered on intersectionality. For years, the program has been a “lifeline” for students to feel “validated, affirmed, seen and understood” during their post-secondary journeys. As a result, students have been able to leverage GSXS classes to connect themselves with what is happening in the world.

Creating spaces where homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia are not tolerated:

In terms of the importance of inclusive policies, Kadi says that such policies not only support individuals, they provide an illustration of values. For example, he points out that University of Calgary has an excellent intersectional policy concerning sexual violence. This policy affirms the University’s commitment to addressing this kind of violence, to providing support for victims, and to fostering a culture of consent on campus.

He also understands that, “students often experience harassment and hostility due to their race, gender, disabilities, and sexual identities.” As a result, Kadi sees policy development as one key to protecting marginalized communities from discrimination. He sees everyone benefitting from “educational workshops on supportive and respectful conduct” towards UCalgary students, staff and faculty. Moreover, Kadi acknowledges the incredibly positive momentum on campus and the need for this momentum to keep growing.

Interested in learning more? Enroll in Joe’s upcoming course: GSXS 305.01 - Special Topics in Fall 2021 – A course about 2SLGBTQ+ Social Change History, where students focus on understanding the history of violent oppression against queer and trans folks, and the astonishing advent of activism that emerged from the community.

The Faculty of Arts is committed to innovate and promote excellence in academic and creative research, academic programs, student experience, and community relationships. We acknowledge that diversity, equity, inclusion, indigenization and human rights are at the core of this mission. We recognize that this journey involves members of equity-seeking groups and allies working together, and we will continue to develop individual and structural interventions to support and accelerate this process.

--Value statement passed by the Faculty of Arts Equity and Diversity Committee June 2020