Corvallis Social Justice: Collective Organizing Needed for Surviving OSU, Indigenous Futurisms Events, Gender-Affirming Hair Removal Microgrants
With the new academic year now underway at Oregon State University, Tali Ilkovitch, a queer, neurodivergent, transmasculine OSU student and community activist, has taken to postering around campus information about where to access “Surviving OSU” a 38-page zine they created earlier this year that documents past and ongoing histories of systemic neglect and abuse at OSU with regard to its treatments of survivors of sexual violence, and how survivors have been fighting back.
“Surviving OSU is an archival project intended to maintain institutional memory for those who wish to combat sexual and institutional violence on campus,” said Ilkovitch in an email. “A big part of doing this work is knowing the history of survivor oppression and resistance on campus, and knowing how to navigate the bureaucratic structures of campus, which the university often weaponizes against survivors and folks trying to make change to silence us, invalidate us, and burn us out instead of taking accountability.”
Since people graduate and move on from OSU in a matter of years, Ilkovitch said that maintaining institutional memory can be challenging, and can lead to folks having to repeat the cyclical, draining labor of learning to navigate the institution over and over again.
“Using resources from the OSU Special Collections & Archives Research Center (SCARC) and documenting my own and others’ experiences and knowledge, I wanted to spark the creation of a resource for current and future students and community members that would document this contextual information all in one place to make an easily accessible foundation on which to base our work towards systemic change,” they said. “In the zine there is more information about the practice of maintaining institutional memory, and about what the zine intends and doesn’t intend to do.”
Though Ilkovitch worked hard to ensure that the zine is not overtly graphic, they noted that it covers an inherently painful and triggering topic, and advised that people read it with care. They reiterated that the project is intended to be collaborative and center survivors – especially those whose identities are disproportionately impacted by systems of white supremacy, colonialism, and imperialism.
“My biggest hope for feedback and collaboration in the project is incorporating more perspectives from folks whose identities I don’t share, particularly Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, as these are experiences I can’t personally attest to,” they said. “People have reached out being interested in adding to the zine or creating another one, and I’m open to incorporating a variety of content as long as it serves the goals and scope specified in the first zine.”
While they want to hear from folks who are interested in growing the project, they ask that people be considerate when reaching out.
“I am just a human, a student, and a survivor, and receiving messages (especially to my personal social media handles) with graphic content has been really distressing,” said Ilkovitch. “Working on this project requires deliberate mindfulness of our emotional capacities, and of course, consent. If you are interested in collaborating to expand the project, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Surviving OSU’ so that I can respond when I have the appropriate headspace. If you need mental health support or feel the need to give graphic details, this is not the place – please reach out to CAPE [the Center for Advocacy, Prevention & Education] on campus or CARDV [the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence] in town. Graphic emails or any messages to my personal accounts will not be responded to.”
As outlined in the zine, Ilkovitch hopes that readers will ultimately be inspired to start organizing for better conditions for survivors on campus.
“This can look like a lot of different things,” they said. “Put up posters and organize protests on campus to raise awareness – administrators are much more likely to concede to community demands when the university’s reputation is being called into question as we make this epidemic more visible. Reach out to your legislators and voice your support for the democratization of universities in Oregon. A lot of the issues we see on campus stem from deliberate choices by Board of Trustees and upper admin to divest funding from prevention and mental health resources into police and EOA [the Office of Equal Opportunity & Access], which are well-documented in perpetrating secondary victimization and blame against survivors.”
This is another way that Ilkovitch, along with other marginalized students, often feel targeted by OSU as an institution and neglected in regards to having the basic needs of their communities met.
“The university suppressed our voices as we expressed our dire needs for resources to be allocated away from policing and into things like mental health and survivor resources, and when the police unsurprisingly failed to protect us from two violent attacks on queer and trans people in town in the past year (one of which was on campus), the university flaunted the care circles we hosted as their response to the violence instead of actually listening to us and giving us the support we truly need,” said Ilkovitch.
Conversely, Ilkovitch asserts that community members should be able to comprise the bodies that have decision-making power over things that affect their health and safety.
“And of course,” they advised, “heal yourself and connect with others. Our community wellness and solidarity is a powerful act of resistance, and is vital to our pursuit for justice.”
Indigenous Futurisms Events: This week, there will be two events on the OSU campus that will center and spark conversations on Indigenous Futurism, which Juleana Enright, an Indigenous, queer, non-binary writer, curator, and sound and theatre artist describes as “a reclamation of Indigenous sovereignty from mainstream media” that “‘imagines a world where colonization hasn’t disrupted the civilization of Indigenous people’ and the representation of Indigenous people hasn’t been skewed in favor of the colonial project.”
Starting tomorrow, Oct. 5, at 4 p.m., Kaku-Ixt Mana Ina Haws, an OSU cultural center for Indigenous peoples of the Americas and Pacific Islands, will be hosting “Indigenous Futurisms with Olmeca: Art, Ancestral Knowledge, and Healing Communities into the Future”. Then, on Thursday at 7:30 p.m., a performance by Olmeca & The Raow Raow Experience will take place at the LaSells Stewart Center, located on 875 SW 26th St. Olmeca is a Bilingual Hip-hop artist, producer, activist, and lecturer at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he teaches courses in the Interdisciplinary Gender and Ethnic Studies Department.
“The Indigenous Futurisms event will be a blend of spoken word, visual art, and dialogue,” said Dr. Luhui Whitebear, Center Director Ina Haws. “The Olmeca & The Raow Raow Experience will be a blend of music performance and visual art production.”
At both events, attendees will be able to hear directly from the artists, performers, and scholars.
Microgrants for Gender-Affirming Hair Removal: On social media, local queer and trans activists and grassroots organizations – including the Mid-Willamette Trans Support Network – have been sharing a helpful announcement from Trans Lifeline, an entirely trans-led grassroots hotline and microgrant organization that provides direct emotional and financial support to trans folks across the U.S. Trans Lifeline microgrants are intended to provide low-barrier funds to trans and non-binary folks so that they can access gender-affirming care, such as name and gender marker changes on ID documents. Most recently, the organization launched Gender-Affirming Hair Removal (GAHR) microgrants, which will provide $1,500 in funding for laser hair removal, electrolysis, or other forms of permanent hair removal.
“For trans women, trans femmes, and anyone else who experiences transmisogyny, facial and body hair are common sources of dysphoria and increase the likelihood of street harassment and violence,” reads a statement on their website. “Despite the evident health benefits of these procedures, permanent hair removal is only covered by 5% of health insurance plans, meaning that many trans folks cannot access the care they need. This is particularly true for Black trans women as they are more likely to suffer from the combined toll of structural anti-Blackness, misogyny, and transphobia – also known as transmisogynoir. These structural barriers are part of why Black trans folks are at much higher risk for crisis and suicidality.”
Because of this, and in keeping with the organization’s commitment to dismantling social and economic barriers to lifesaving gender-affirming care caused by white supremacy and colonialism, 60% of GAHR microgrants are reserved for Black applicants, 30% for non-Black people of color, and 10% for white applicants.
In an Instagram post, Trans Lifeline noted that permanent hair removal medical procedures are “proven to increase quality-of-life and safety benefits for trans women, trans femmes, and/or folks who experience transmisogyny,” and that removing barriers to this kind of care “makes it possible for trans people to survive and thrive.”
GAHR microgrant applications are currently open to U.S. residents who identify as trans women, trans femmes, and/or folks who experience transmisogyny, and will close next Friday, Oct. 14, at 11:59 p.m. EST. Applications can be filled out here.
If you’d like to support this cause, you can donate to the GAHR microgrant program here.
“Putting money directly into trans people’s hands is central to economic and racial justice, and our overall well-being. Redistributing funds draws inspiration from the principles of mutual aid: our support of each other is a political act.”
Fall Term LGBTQ+ Support Groups: Free, drop-in support groups for LGBTQ+ OSU students – including those who are Two-Spirit, intersex, asexual, pansexual, androgynous, or questioning – are now open. These groups are intended to provide students opportunities to connect in safer spaces, give and receive support, share personal experiences, and more.
One of these support groups is “Bites with Beth”, which invites students come and discuss identity intersectionality, build community, and share their experiences and perspectives on living within and navigating a cis-heteronormative world. Bites with Beth occurs every Tuesday from 12 – 1:30 p.m. at the Pride Center, temporarily located in Room 112 of the Student Experience Center (SEC), on 2251 SW Jefferson Way.
The second support group is “Transform! A Gender Spectrum Support Group”, which is open to students who identify as trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming, intersex, and gender questioning. The group is hosted by Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS), and occurs every Monday from 3 – 4:30 p.m. on the 5th floor of Snell Hall, located on 2150 SW Jefferson Way.