In recent weeks, graffiti featuring transgender exclusionary language appeared in the female bathroom cubicles on floors two and three of Chifley Library. The graffiti has since been taken down but has prompted the Queer and Women’s Department to speak up about intolerance for transphobia on campus. 

The distressing graffiti contained slurs and exclusionary statements, alongside female symbols scribbled on the walls of these cubicles. These insensitive remarks caused students to speak out on their social media platforms, as well as notify the ANU staff and Queer Department about their concerns.

Speaking to Woroni, the Women’s Department shared that, “In recent weeks it has been brought to our attention that there have been multiple incidents of transphobic and discriminatory graffiti on campus at the ANU.” 

The Department spokesperson continued, “We condemn transphobia in all forms and stand against bigotry and in solidarity with all trans, intersex and gender sex diverse students and staff.”

Furthermore, the Women’s Department reassured students that “the vandalism has been removed and is being consistently monitored” and encouraged anyone to reach out to the Women’s or Queer Department should similar incidents arise. 

Earlier this month, both the Queer and Women’s Departments posted on their Facebook pages addressing the issue and declared how the Departments will not tolerate such behaviour at the ANU. 

The Women’s Department spoke out stating that “we are deeply concerned that any member of our community has been subjected to witnessing hateful, exclusionary and distressing materials; there is no place at our university for transphobia or gender discrimination.” 

Following the vandalising of library bathroom stalls, the ANU Library has also put up posters showing how they “support all students” and ask to reach out if “you witness or experience any harassment or unsafe behaviour.” The ANU ask to refer to a staff member or the Student Safety and Wellbeing team via their contact details listed below this article. 

An ANU spokesperson has commented that “if anyone in our community is affected by these comments, support services are available, [and] staff and students can report material they deem to be offensive to security via the fix my campus tool in the ANUOK app.”

The ANU campus still largely has only gender binary bathrooms in many buildings and public spaces, including the libraries, leaving limited options for students who do not fit into gender binaries. 

There has been a broader trend in politics of this kind of behaviour and rhetoric, which is often referred to as “trans-exclusionary feminism” and is centred on excluding trans and gender diverse individuals.

Recent examples include the controversial bill presented in February by Tasmanian Liberal Senator Clair Chandler seeking to exclude trans people from participating in gendered sports and bathrooms, and several other legal initiatives internationally. As commented by one student to Woroni, this kind of behaviour on campus has “succeeded at making trans people less safe on campus” and that this graffiti “emboldens people to do things like this.”

At SRC 4, the Women’s Officer’s report announced their intention to initiate conversations and address transphobia on campus.

To quote, the Officer’s report stated, “In upcoming weeks we [the Women’s Department] will be organising a working group in collaboration with the Queer Department to set up some more long-term advocacy to address and counteract transphobia on campus.” Additionally, the Officer made reference to broader threats to women and LGBTIQ communities posed by the Religious Discrimination Bill. 

If you or anyone you know is affected by the content of this piece, or encounter similar incidents to those described in this article, please contact one of the support services below:

ANU Counselling

(02) 6125 2442

ANU Wellbeing 

student.wellbeing@anu.edu.au

1800 RESPECT

1800 737 732

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, Crisis Line

(02) 6247 2525

ANU Women’s Department

sa.womens@anu.edu.au

ANU Queer* Department

sa.queer@anu.edu.au

ANU Respectful Relationships Unit

respect@anu.edu.au