Frustrated by the lack of guidance for trans and non-binary students at UBC, arts students Britt Runeckles and Darcy Bandeen created their own guide.
The illustrated guide, demystifies gender-affirming medical care, housing, and more.
For trans and non-binary students, the first two weeks of navigating UBC can be especially disorienting. UBC students, Bandeen and Runeckles hope to ease the learning curve.
“[First-year] trans and non-binary students would have to figure out how to change their names, or find bathrooms on campus, and make sure everything was lining up through all of the different mismatched systems across UBC,” said Bandeen, a third-year sociology student.
“At the beginning of the year, my RA asked us to do a heads-down vote for whether the washrooms would be gender neutral,” said Sam, a third-year arts student quoted in the guide. “A few people were against it so it stayed divided.”
The guide features tips and quotes from current students. It’s designed to be conversational and accessible — like a friend helping you through the process.
“We have fun tips and stories throughout because we wanted to make it more of a student-centred resource,” said Runeckles, a fifth-year English literature and creative writing student.
Group and individual interviews allowed Bandeen and Runeckles to represent trans and non-binary students in their own words. All interviewees were paid for their time.
“A very important thing to us in the process was making sure that we were compensating trans voices,” said Runeckles, “Frequently those voices go uncompensated for the emotional energy that they’re putting in to change these systems.”
The UBC Equity and Inclusion Office funded the interviews and supported the entire process. However, the guide was made deliberately outside of the UBC institution — per student wishes.
“Basically, we’re like, we’d love to have money from you. But we don’t want to be affiliated, because we wanted to be holding UBC accountable,” said Runeckles. “While it was funded [by the Equity and Inclusion Office], it was deliberately disattached.”
The Equity and Inclusion Office will also help the guide continue to grow after Bandeen and Runeckles graduate.
“Our primary intention is to make this last as long as possible,” said Runeckles.
“We have it as an editable PDF, so that in the future if the systems change, it can be more of like a long-lasting resource.”
“I think that people enjoy the fact that there’s a kind of student-centric guide,” said Bandeen. “There wasn’t really anything like this before.”
Britt Runeckles and Darcy Bandeen have contributed articles for The Ubyssey.
Runeckles is also an incoming member of the Ubyssey Publications Society Board of Directors. The board has no say over The Ubyssey’s editorial operations.