Meet some of the trans and gender diverse students and staff in our ADA community
Blake Wilson (he/they) is a Bachelor of Fine Arts student specialising in textiles and photography. Hear from Blake as he explores gender, art, and the joys of being playful with self-expression. They share their journey to higher education and how the ‘clown’ as a motif enables them to explore being trans and disabled in a binary world.
Damla Hatipolgu (they/them) is an Honours student in the Bachelor of Industrial Design. Damla shares their reflections on the relationship between gender identity and gender expression. They speak to the creativity of Industrial Design, but also the need for greater diversity and understanding in that field. Damla explores how their cultural identity shapes their creative practice and the delight of being involved in UNSW’s Mardi Gras float.
Lana Zilla (they/them) is a student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts, and a member of the Dean’s Shadow Board, a student advisory group. Lana describes themselves as ‘neuroqueer’ which, for them, captures how their gender identity and autism intersect. They talk about moving away from hiding themselves and towards openly sharing their identity, experiences, and challenges. Lana shares their deep desire for connection, and how they have built this into their UNSW life.
Dr Aves Parsemain (they/them) is an Educational Developer in the Faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture. Their work supports academic staff with anything from course and curriculum design to educational technologies. Aves describes their gender as transmasculine and in this video explores what it means to affirm one’s gender. They share the fear trans and gender diverse people may feel about bringing their full selves into their work and educational contexts. Aves explores how being valued, seen, and respected as one’s true self can help counteract that fear and create positive environments for people to flourish.
Chantel Henwood (they/them) is a student in the Bachelor of Arts and a UNSW staff member working in the Health Promotions Unit. Chantel shares how, in high school, their experiences with disability, mental health, and learning difficulties meant they had never considered higher education as a possibility. They are now the first person in their family to attend university. Chantel speaks to the beauty of fluidity in an often-rigid world and the importance of centring compassion and student voices in higher education.
Professor Christy Newman (they/them) is Associate Dean Engagement & Impact and Deputy Dean (Acting) for the Faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture. Christy’s research, based in the Centre for Social Research in Health in ADA, has been driven by their passion for understanding how queer and trans communities support each other to thrive in an often unsafe world. They share their own experience of the thrill of affirmation alongside the fear that accompanied coming out as non-binary later in life. Christy speaks to the importance of acknowledging how unsafe it can feel for trans and gender diverse communities to simply exist, while also foregrounding positive accounts of trans experiences. They explore the critical role of allyship in creating affirming environments for trans and gender diverse people.