Rainbow background images for video conferencing or slides
The designs taking inspiration from our Flags Survey results, we are delighted to present new Teams backgrounds which are available on the University website and saved in the Staff Pride Network Members SharePoint for you to download. Please add to your Teams (now!) and consider using these as backgrounds for lectures and meetings, both internal and external meetings.
“We are really pleased that these backgrounds play a small but welcome part in emphasising the importance of diversity and inclusivity at our University.”
Niall Bradley, Deputy Director of Marketing, The University of Edinburgh
As we continue to work with the University to increase awareness of the importance of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, tools for all staff and students to show support and allyship are key to that journey.
In this digital age where Rainbow Lanyards are less visible, rainbow lanyard Teams backgrounds were proposed by Melissa Highton, Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services and Assistant Principal Online Learning at ISG, which became a (lengthy, multipleemails) very senior management collaboration between Katie & I for the Staff Pride Network, ISG graphic designer and SPN graphic design volunteer Gill Kidd, HR’s Head of EDI Caroline Wallace, with final designs and corporate approval by University Communications & Marketing, including Head of Brand, Head of Marketing, Deepthi de Silva-Williams and Deputy Director of Marketing Niall Bradley.
Research Seminar: Transgender Gaze, Neoliberal Haze
Representations of trans women in the Americas through the prism of neoliberal society
a seminar with Gina Gwenffrewi
My PhD thesis deals with the impact of the Americas on our conception in Scotland and the UK regarding trans identity, specifically trans female identity. This is partly the intellectual and activist legacies from mainly North America since the 1990s, but also the terrible rate of violence suffered by trans women in Latin America and African American communities in the North. I’m interested in the narratives that we encounter in the arts and the media, including which narratives get seen by us, and which do not. My work deals with the power structures that decide, within our current neoliberal culture, what is the right kind of trans narrative and which is not. Accordingly, my thesis begins with an analysis of the novel The Danish Girl, with its narrow depiction of a white, hyper-feminine, upper-middle-class trans woman with a tragic ending, the perfect narrative for a white, non-trans audience. I then look at narratives including storytelling and biography by trans women of colour which challenge our understanding of society and how it is meant to enrich any hardworking citizen irrespective of class, race/ethnicity, or nation.
Research Seminar: World AIDS Day 2020
In recognition of World Aid’s Day 2020 and this year’s theme of “Resilience”, the University of Edinburgh Staff Pride Network hosted a panel event to address the question: How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting individuals living with HIV/AIDS in Scotland and around the world? and share insights as to how communities and health systems have demonstrated resilience and sought to strengthen HIV prevention services in the context of a global pandemic.
Our Panel members were:
Robert Pollock from Waverley Care
Socorro García – Casa de la Sal (Mexico)
Germán Martínez Blanco – AHF Mexico
Rocío Sánchez Granillo – preVIHene (Mexico)
Fraser Serle – HIV Scotland volunteer
Robert Pollock is a Health Improvement Coordinator at Waverley Care, he’s based in Edinburgh, currently working from home. He has been part of Waverley Care since 1995, initially as a befriending volunteer and since 2011 as a paid employee. He works in a small team offering outreach support to people living with HIV and/or HepC. This team has worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, offering a blend of in-person and telephone support and advice.
Socorro García Estrada is a psychologist graduated from the National University of Mexico (UNAM), psychotherapist, and thanatologist. She delivers person-centred awareness training for medical staff on topics of care for people living with HIV. She has 25 years of experience providing psychological orientation to people living with HIV. She is part of the Citizen Council on HIV in Mexico City and is Programme Director at La Casa de La Sal, a Civil Association that provides comprehensive care for people with HIV/AIDS and their families.
Germán Martínez Blanco is an independent actor and psychologist graduated from the National University of Mexico (UNAM). Since 2003 he has worked in NGOs, coordinating community psychological care programs. Since 2010 he has specialised in the HIV field doing prevention, early detection, and accompaniment of people living with HIV. He currently coordinates the Linkage to Medical Care programme in AHF Mexico and promotes the cabaret play entitled “Lights Out” with the Doom Cabaret company.
Rocío Sánchez Granillo López is a Psychologist, Psychotherapist, and PhD candidate in Human Sexuality. In her role as a lecturer at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, she supervises psychology trainees working with people living with HIV. As a result of this work, she co-founded ‘preVIHene Por tu Vida’, an organisation dedicated to deliver comprehensive sexual education programmes on primary prevention of STIs, unplanned pregnancies, and sexual health promotion.
Fraser Serle is a member of HIV Scotland’s Community Advisory Network and Lothian HIV Patient Forum. He was also vice-chair of Positively UK in London until earlier this month.
Trans Day of Remembrance Vigil
On the 20th November 2020 the Glasgow Mission, Order of Perpetual Indulgence created a safe space of remembrance and celebration of the lives lived as well as lost. They honoured those past in spoken word, poems and music.
The hosts lit candles and asked attendees to light a candle or shine a light in this dark time. They said the names of those past and remembered the life they lived and mourned their passing as a community. We could not meet our loved ones during this pandemic but we came together online in remembrance.
Following a minute of silence for those lost, we had a minute of noise to celebrate their lives and contributions.
Rainbow Office Hours
Now, more than ever, we need to talk. So the Staff pride Network has set up Rainbow Office Hours. A chance to make a connection with another LGBTQ+ staff member, or PG student, at the University.
Each month*, the last Friday of the month at 12-1pm, a few of our members will be standing by – check our website for details of who is available. Pick out someone you’d like to talk to, and drop them a line in Teams to check they’re not with someone else (i.e. a digital knock on the door!). After that, you two are free to chat about anything and everything. You might have specific things you want to talk about, or it might just be the pleasure of spending some time with someone like you.
We’re not a counselling or support service, but we do believe in the power of community – so why not take a moment to make that connection and feel just a wee bit better.
Sue Fletcher-Watson: My name is Sue. I’m a cis woman and I’m bisexual. I’ve been married for 15 years to a cis man and we have two kids – everyone assumes we’re a heterosexual couple. I am happy to chat about the experience of being bi (or pansexual) generally and specifically about bi-visibility and bi-phobia.
Karen Pinto-Csaszar: I’m Karen and I’m a Student Support Officer at Edinburgh College of Art. I am a cisgender straight woman who is part of the ‘BAME’ community (Latin-American) and am interested in chatting with staff and students of any orientation about (among many things) the contribution allies might make in supporting and learning from the LGBT+ community, including and perhaps especially potential allies who may feel interested but hesitant to get involved. I’m also interested in chatting about matters of the BAME community at large, including being a BAME expat!
Chloe Stanton: Senior Electronics Engineer in the School of Physics and Astronomy, I’m a pansexual trans woman, not currently in a relationship, and interested to chat to PhD students and any staff about being visibly trans within the university or just LGBTQI+ issues in general.
Robert (Robbie) Court: I’m a PostDoc in the School of Informatics specialising in insect neurobiology. Label wise I am Gay, Autistic, Humanist, Dyslexic, Prosopagnosic and have ADHD. I’ve been with my ‘husband’ (not got round to the now available paperwork – one day) for over 25years, he came with a son who is nearly 30 now. Danielle Marlow: I’m Danielle and I’ve worked at the University for nearly 10 years. I’m a cisgender straight woman married to a cis straight man, and we have 2 children. I’m happy to chat about anything: thoughts you might have; questions you’d like me to try and answer; as well as contributions you can make to our community as an Ally.
This is a form to collect information from people who are willing to host “Rainbow Office Hours” at the University of Edinburgh in November 2020. The purpose is to allow LGBTQ+ PhD students and staff to drop in for informal chats and peer support. Rainbow Office Hours take place the last Friday of the month, every month, from 12-1pm. It’s best if you can commit to a block of 3 or 4 months in a row, but please do sign up even if you’re not certain you’ll always be available. Please complete this form if you can make yourself available online, and are happy to chat informally to people about your experiences and support them with theirs. NB: this is not a service to replace formal mental health or counselling support but is simply a chance for folk to make a connection with someone who might have had a similar experience to them, and share those stories.
*we will be taking a break in December but Rainbow Office Hours will be back on January 29th 2021.
Research Seminar: Imagined Futures of Older Same Sex Couples in Scotland
This talk was based on PhD research which explored how older same-sex couples in Scotland imagine their futures. The research looked at how people talk about their past and present, and how their experiences were reflected in the imagination of their future. Based on interviews with 7 older same-sex couples living in Scotland, the talk presented some of the key results, which show that the couples who participated in this research imagine their future in a very similar and specific way. The talk also explored two ways of imagining the future, the short- and long-term one, and how these differ in terms of the concerns and hopes reflected in each. Through the stories presented in this talk and in Dr Jandrić’s doctoral research, she hopes to raise awareness of the experiences these couples went through and what these experiences mean for their present and future lives.
Dr Dora Jandrić is a researcher in sociology. She obtained her PhD at the University of Edinburgh. Her research interests include the intersection of sexuality, time, and ageing. Her PhD thesis explored how older same-sex couples imagined their future. She worked on a project which investigated experiences of invisibility of bisexual employees in the UK, and currently works as a senior tutor on undergraduate-level sociology at the School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh.
Research Seminar: ‘Heavier than Air’ premiere and discussion
‘Heavier than Air’ is a stage-to-screen film based on interview data from research conducted with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer teachers working in different educational settings in Australia. Since 2015, this play, devised by Anne Harris (RMIT University) and Stacy Holman Jones (Monash University) has been staged in Australia, Singapore, USA, and Scotland. This is a film adaptation directed by Edgar Rodríguez-Dorans.
With this event, the Staff Pride Network for LGBT+ Colleagues & Allies launched its Research Seminar Series. Heavier than Air helps to educate non-LGBTQIA+ audiences, along with education administrators, students, and staff about the experiences of social inclusion and mental health needs of LGBTQIA+ people, providing LGBTQIA+ teachers with an opportunity to see their sometimes welcoming, sometimes violently exclusionary experiences at their workplace depicted on film. The film was followed by a discussion on how qualitative research and performing arts converge to rethink research methodologies and research communication in humanities and social sciences.
While many students may never venture south of the Meadows to the King’s Buildings, some might say that the same inequalities in academia persist or are even greater on Edinburgh University’s second biggest campus. In this interview with Rosalyn Pearson, a 3rd year PhD student in the School of Physics and Astronomy, I discuss what it’s like to be a non-binary woman in a department comprised of (almost) solely cisgender heterosexual white men.
By Justin White
Justin: Hi Rosalyn! Thanks so much for meeting with me. Please introduce yourself.
Rosalyn: Yea of course! I’m a 3rd year PhD student in Particle Theory, and the Postgrad Rep on the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion panel, I’ve been a tutor for Gauge Theory, Quantum Field Theory, and Problem Solving in Theoretical Physics, which are all master’s courses. I enjoy doing dancing and performing with the Edinburgh Bhangra Crew, which is an Indian folk dance, and I’ve also taken up Olympic weightlifting but that isn’t happening much in lockdown of course.
R: It’s work in progress: you start very bad and you get a little bit better. I also like going for walks and climbing trees and stuff, I’m trying to do a bit more of that now.
J: As a child I always climbed trees, my parents would always have to get me down. *laughs*
R: My parents got upset at me because I would climb trees with a broken arm!
J: All that aside, when did you become postgrad rep for the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) committee?
R: Only about a year ago, so I had a friend in the group, Izzy, who was the previous postgrad rep, so when she left, she sent an email asking people to take over, and Andres and I were both interested so we both became postgrad rep.
J: What could you suggest the EDI committee should do to encourage EDI across the School?
R: EDI has a lot of aspects to it. I’ve noticed there’s a lot of focus on the Athena Swan Award, which is a good thing, but that is only one facet of a lot of stuff that could be done, and it’s not something that people see the results of that easily when they’re students in the school.
For those that don’t know, the Athena Swan is an award established and managed by Advance HE (previously the Equality Challenge Unit) that recognises and celebrates good practices in higher education and research institutions towards the advancement of gender equality: representation, progression and success for all staff.
“On a basic level we need to have more frequent social events across non-academic and academic staff and students to try and build a sense of community and inclusion and have a better communal space for that.”
J: I was asking this because if you If you could change one thing about the James Clerk Maxwell Building (JCMB), would it be something along these lines?
R: If I were to change one thing, the JCMB has a problem architecturally. It should have a big canteen or communal space where the food is cheap and people want to go there, and everyone would go there. There’s this problem that there’re these little floors and corridors and little nooks and crannies and there’s no communal area. We have the Magnet Café inside but it’s crap because there isn’t enough space for everyone. There’s no diverse and cheap food option. We just need a space where people have the ability to meet each other and talk.
But then again where are you going to put a canteen in JCMB?
Rosalyn and I then changed topics to talk about her research in the School of Physics and Astronomy, and what it’s like to be a non-binary woman in a department full of cis-men.
J: Would it be alright if we talked about your research a bit? Could you explain your research so a fresher could understand it?
R: Basically, I am looking at the internal structure of protons. We use quantum field theory to try and explain particle physics, but the internal structure of a proton is something we can’t explain using current perturbative techniques because the dynamics are just so complicated.
When you collide protons, like at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), you don’t know what parton (part of the proton) in one is interacting with what parton in the other and we bridge the gulf between the parton level and proton level using parton distribution functions which tell you, ‘what’s the probability in this collision that there will be a certain parton with a certain momentum that will do the interacting in each proton’.
J: In essence, this goes along with the idea of creating a new form of physics that goes past the standard model, is that what the future holds for your research?
The weird thing about particle physics is that you have the standard model that holds up to extremely high levels of precision in a lot of ways but there are many indications that it isn’t quite complete. There’s neutrinos and dark matter and dark energy and all this messed up stuff that doesn’t fit!
“I would describe it as the black swan analogy. In European science in the Middle Ages they only thought there were white swans because every time they looked at a swan it was a white swan. But then they went to Australia and found a black swan. So, there are black swans, they just don’t live in Europe. The black swans are what the new physics is trying to find [without the colonisation].”
J: This is all well and good and you seem to be enjoying your research…
R: …well a PhD has been a bit of mental struggle because of the imposter syndrome which makes it hard day to day.
J: I’m sorry to hear that. You talk about imposter syndrome now but before your PhD, were there any barriers to your entry into the School?
R: There haven’t been any formal barriers that I’ve experienced, but I did a [UG] degree that was in natural sciences not just physics.
I told my director of studies that I wanted to do Physics in the second year, and he was like ‘no, you should definitely do geology, that’s your path’.
I think that was a barrier because a lot of the time throughout my UG degree I just felt like dropping physics and feeling like I couldn’t do it, and a lot of that was perpetuated by me being a woman. I didn’t want to be the only woman that was really, really, bad.
“I wanted to be bad because I was bad, not bad because I was a woman, and that’s something I still have a problem with.”
J: Do you feel like there was a pressure that if you were a woman in physics you couldn’t just be okay, you had to be this role model for all women?
R: A lot of people feel like that – you have to prove yourself a bit more because you don’t want to let other people down. That was a barrier because I felt like dropping physics on and off for a long time. I have experienced this issue in my PhD as well because it’s very male dominated [and]…you just feel like everyone is viewing you in this context of being a minority.
J: The fact that you pass as a woman is always attached to the things you say, and people are always going to interpret you differently…
Rosalyn then goes into a personal experience in relation to this statement, which she wished to be redacted from the final interview.
J: Would you say then the School has a bias against women that still needs to be broken down? How could the School better answer to the needs of women scientists?
R: I think it’s difficult because my department has a particular issue with there not being many women. I don’t think I’ve really experienced any direct sexism from male academics, but rather it comes from an environment that is not diverse, and it’s not just in terms of men/women ratio. There are few visible LGBT+ members or ethnic minorities. People [just] want a sense of community.
Rosalyn and I switched conversation here to recognise our privilege in being in such a position.
R: I would like to emphasise here that I am non-male, but I fit in perfectly with the demographic of particle physics students, I’m white, come from an affluent background, I did my UG at Cambridge were half the department came from, and yet I have had a such an intense feeling of alienation. And I don’t know what it must be like if you come from other backgrounds – it must be horrendous.
“To feel like a minority here as a white non-male really demonstrates how un-diverse the School is.”
J: I couldn’t agree more. As a final comment on this, would you have any advice you might give a first year, or someone that wants to onto a PhD who could experience the same things you did?
R: Realise that if you are doubting yourself and thinking you’re too stupid and not good enough to do a PhD then that is a really normal thing to think. You are often around a lot of people who try and sound like they’re confident and know loads of stuff and they’ll try and put you down with these mind games.
A lot of these people are just flouting their long words to sound clever. They are just trying to appear brash and confident, and it’s really easy for someone to do that if they feel entitled to do that and come from a history of privilege.
The whole way through when I have met PhD interview candidates that are worried, as soon as you start saying ‘don’t worry, I have no idea what I’m doing, I feel like a complete moron’ they’ll be like ‘oh my god thank goodness it’s not just me’, and there are so many people out there that think that. I barely believe in myself, but I’ve gotten a lot better at just trusting myself, if they’ve taken you onto the PhD programme then you deserve to be there. We need to feel more honest and have a change in attitude about what you do or don’t know.
J: I think that’s really important, because I’ve definitely been there as an UG student and I don’t even know what I’m doing half the time *laughs*.
R: The other thing is make sure you have a good life outside your PhD. It’s not worth sacrificing being happy to do PhD work. At the end of the day you need to work to earn the money to live so it’s good to do work that you enjoy, but your life is the most important thing to focus on.
J: That’s really important for everyone, not just PhD students but academic and non-academic staff and even students.
In our final part of the interview, we switched topics to talk about Rosalyn’s identity and belonging in the LGBT+ community.
J: You said you self-identified as non-binary, do you feel like you have anything to say about LGBT+ issues?
R: I’ve always been on the fringe of LGBT+ because I’ve never felt that confident.
“At the start of my UG, I would say I was genderfluid and in a more masculine time than I was now. I felt the trans community was a bit ostracised in the LGBT+ group there. They didn’t really fit in, and I was massively questioning everything, so I didn’t even really feel like I fitted in.”
I’ve always felt reluctant to engage with that community so much. I identify with it still even though I haven’t been that involved, if I feel if there was somewhere really encouraged, I would have gone to that.
But I have noticed people wearing these rainbow lanyards, that got introduced at some point, I thought that was really nice. That gives you a little boost, like ‘oh that’s nice, that’s friendly.’ It creates a nice atmosphere that is accepting.
It’s nothing big and promotes the idea of an accepting atmosphere, in contradiction to the department which is kind of strait-laced and where people wouldn’t talk about emotional matters, which I struggled with big time.
J: Change is slow moving and it can be disheartening at times. Small things can make a big difference, like staff wearing the lanyards as you said. Although there is a fine line between performative activism and actual change, is there something else you’d like to see?
R: Pronouns! When people do that that’s really nice. If we could encourage more people to do it that would be good.
J: And I mean it’s so simple… That brings us to the end of our interview, if you have anything else to add you can always email it over to me!
R: Thanks for having me, see you at our next meeting!
About this interview
This interview was conducted by Justin White as part of an initiative by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee in the School of Physics and Astronomy to highlight the research and experiences of staff and students of underrepresented communities, and was published with the written permission of the School, Interviewee, and Interviewer. Check out all the EDI interviews.
We marked Bi Visibility Day on Wednesday 23 September 2020 with an online event where members of the Staff Pride Network and the Pridesoc student network, as well as LGBT+ community members and allies, learned more about the Bi+* experience through shared stories. We particularly welcomed BAME/PoC Bi+ people and Bi+ people with disabilities.
During the event, the co-chairs prompted discussions with a number of active participants, using questions from OurStory Scotland’s Queer Distance questionnaire as prompts. All attendees were encouraged to consider the participants’ personal responses alongside their own – what were the differences and similarities, and how does the Bi+ experience uniquely affect the context?
Attendees were encouraged to add to the discussions using text chat and raise-hand functions if they wished to do so.
Co-chairs: Cathy Naughton (she/her, Bi+ Rep, UoE Staff Pride Network) and Lindsay Horsham (she/her, Volunteer Researcher, OurStory Scotland).
*The term ‘Bi+’ in this context relates to an umbrella definition of bisexuality that includes people who are attracted to more than one gender, and may self-identify as bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, bi-romantic, questioning or bi-curious, to name but a few identities. We recognise that identities are unique and sometimes cannot be easily defined with labels. The Bi+ community is inclusive of trans and non-binary people. (UNISON, 2020)
Welcome new LGBT+ students: wave for 10 secs
Did you bring home your Rainbow Lanyard? Can you wave to your phone camera for 10 seconds? Could there be anything more important in welcoming new LGBT+ students than seeing LGBT+ people in the new students welcome video?
How did this come about? We have people everywhere, as you know, including in University Communications & Marketing. The lovely Vicki had an idea to have some rainbow lanyards on display and include some SPN faces, as part of the multiple videos on screen (a grid) of smiling people waving hi to the new students – mix of students/staff/alumni – and we love it!
It’s not just us. The staff BAME networks and Disabled Staff Network have also been invited to take part. IF they receive more than they need, it won’t go to waste, we can use ours as a backdrop at online Staff Pride Network events to welcome community members and University students.
Do it NOW before you forget!
Jonathan & Katie
Jonathan MacBride (he/him) & Katie Nicoll Baines (she/her)
Co-Chairs, Staff Pride Network for LGBT+ Colleagues & Allies