Commentary  Thanks, UGE

A Love Letter to the Union for Gender Empowerment

When I was looking at universities, the first thing I looked for was LGBTQ+ organizations and resources on campus. As a queer student, and the former president of my high school’s Gender- Sexuality Alliance, I knew that I couldn’t go to a university that wasn’t LGBTQ+ friendly. Most colleges and universities have LGBTQ+ centres or gay student groups – but McGill was one of the few that had a space dedicated to trans individuals.

The Union for Gender Empowerment (UGE) was a central part of my first year. As a staffer, I got to spend a few days each week in the office: a beacon of hope in a campus that’s not always welcoming to trans people. I got to provide people with products that make them feel more comfortable in their body, share anti-oppressive book recommendations, and make adorable pronoun buttons (my favourite is the one that another volunteer gave me – it said Enbee).

In the comfort of the fifth floor of 2075 Robert Bourassa, and now a shoebox-sized room in the back of 680 Sherbrooke (we miss you, SSMU building), I found hope surrounded by the rad zines, pronoun buttons, the corner co-op shop (with binders, packers, and other gender-affirming products), and a trans-inclusive library. Within these walls, I met dozens of trans people and allies that reminded me that McGill is somewhere I can be myself.

I found hope surrounded by the rad zines, pronoun buttons, the corner co-op shop […], and a trans- inclusive library.

Even though I do not volunteer for them anymore, knowing that the UGE exists on campus gives me hope everyday. Any time I send them a Facebook message, see their listserv, or see them tabling, it makes me feel a little better about all of the times that I’ve gotten weird looks or been misgendered.

So here’s a thank you to the UGE. Thank you, UGE, for everything.

To learn more about the Union for Gender Empowerment and access their services, visit https:// www.facebook.com/UGEMcGill/.