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IU community discusses relationship between LGBTQ rights, feminism


Katherine Miller, center, listens to another attendee’s comments during the discussion portion of the LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Feminism event Jan. 31 at the Indiana Memorial Union. The event focused on intersectionality between LGBTQ and feminist issues. Sam House Buy Photos

About 25 people gathered Thursday in the Persimmon Room of the Indiana Memorial Union to discuss LGBTQ inclusion in feminism.

The Feminist Student Association at IU organized the event to examine the ways in which the LGBTQ community has been historically rejected in the feminist movement and to think of ways to make feminism more inclusive.

Junior Alexia Barraza, director of intersectionality for FSA, said the group aims to eliminate sexism and oppression by organizing educational events about the topics. She creates programming that partners FSA with IU’s culture centers.

Barraza said these events are important to recognize other identities included in feminism beside gender.

“A lot of times feminism, especially mainstream feminism, tends to focus on the issues that specifically pertain to white, upper-class, straight, cis women and not really considering how other identities can also have an impact on them and how someone experiences sexism,” Barraza said.

Two speakers from the LGBTQ+ Culture Center and a speaker from Middle Way House presented at the event.

Danielle Hernandez, a graduate student at the center, covered the history of lesbian exclusion in second wave feminism, a time when she said women felt stuck between the two identities.

She said modern feminism has become more accepting since the 1960s, but it still needs to improve more.

“Somebody I know went to the Women’s March, and they were saying that it was particularly intersectional as far as race and ethnicity goes this year," she said. "But they said they didn’t notice as much queer inclusion."

Freshman Jo Herron spoke about the relationship between modern feminism and the transgender community. They said the idea that transgender women are not women and can’t be feminists harms the overall feminist movement.

Herron said it’s not an aspect of feminism that is commonly thought about, so they wanted to spread more awareness on the topic.

A discussion followed the presentations. Attendees examined current events affecting the LGBTQ community and shared their personal experiences with being part of that community and being a feminist.

Barraza said she hopes the event helped foster a relationship between FSA and the LGBTQ community on IU’s campus.

“The feminist movement and the LGBTQ+ rights movement fundamentally have the same purpose in life, so I think it’s really important to create a bridge there,” Barraza said.

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