On the eve of our next council meeting, let’s check in on one of our officers who was elected at our last one. Meet Amy Sargeant, QUT Guild’s Queer Officer for the remainder of 2020. We talked to Amy about art projects she’s working on and her history in the union space.
For those of us who haven’t met you before, tell us a little bit about yourself and your connection at QUT?
I am a trans woman, protest artist, tutor and student. I study at QUT as a Masters candidate, engaging in practice-based research. For me, that practice manifests as activism which centres my experience as a trans person. Since 2017, I have worked for QUT as a queer advocate in the Widening Participation program and Explore Uni. In 2018, I began work for QUT as a Sessional Academic… But fuck all this institutional validation! Queer liberation doesn’t occur within ‘politics as usual’ and eschewing those means is what will unshackle us.
What prompted you to run for the role of Queer Officer?
I am intensely passionate about queer liberation. I’ve represented queer individuals over the last year as the NTEU’s Queer Representative for Queensland, working closely with queer students across QUT campuses. This experience allowed me to sit in on working groups and meetings – but often as an outsider. Taking on the Queer Officer role means I can work closer to the inside on these crucial issues. I really want to disrupt the current state-of-play on queer issues in universities. There is a disturbing comfortability among would-be-allies in the face of current queer injustice – let’s make those realities less comfortable, less easy to accept, and spur systemic change.
What are you hoping to bring to the QUT Guild Queer Portfolio?
I am excited to pick up where our previous Queer Officer Max Fox left off, finalising the relaunch of our QUT Guild Queer Collective. With our new Queer Lounge in C-Block open, there’s a lot of praxis on the horizon…
I’ve spent a lot of my first few weeks as Queer Officer meeting with our Queer Collective, and other LGBT+ individuals at our university to hear what they want. In light of that, we are making a bunch of changes – like ceasing any queer activities which centre alcohol. We are also planning all events going forward to be held in spaces accessible by students under 18. I teach first years, so it’s unthinkable to me that we’d host a queer event all my queer students couldn’t come along to!
The unanimous message I’ve heard from queer people at our university is that they want to see action over optics. In explicit terms, I’ve heard that rainbow-coating our campuses is great, but for queer people burdened by discrimination at every level, every day, these gestures may feel like shallow exercises in relieving liberal guilt. I see where they’re coming from!
Which projects are you most excited to bring to fruition?
The major project I’ve been tackling as part of the NTEU is Darlington Statement recognition – a joint consensus statement by AU/NZ intersex representatives which sets out urgent priorities for intersex individuals. This is important at QUT from an optics perspective – because of course we recognise and embrace intersex people at our university – but there’s more than that. One of the pivotal recommendations made in the Darlington Statement calls “for the immediate prohibition as a criminal act of deferrable medical interventions, including surgical and hormonal interventions, that alter the sex characteristics of infants and children without personal consent.”
This is hyper-relevant at QUT, where we teach nursing students. These students will be in the room when practitioners are deciding whether to medically intervene on intersex babies. QUT affirming the Darlington Statement, and amending course material to reflect this, means this life-saving information is handed on to students.
More info at: https://ihra.org.au/darlington-statement/
Outside of advocacy and university, what else do you get up to?
I’ve submitted my Masters exegesis, so now I’m working to find a new groove for my art practice. Most of my previous artwork was made as a closeted trans person, so now I’m reading and thinking a lot about how I can reflect my reality through art. I guess I always was reflecting my experience – but now, openly, I can relate my identity in an unambiguous way. Let’s see where that goes…