Mimi Trevelyan-Davis charts her experience as the first elected LGBT+ Officer of Trinity College Students’ Union, her hopes for the future and plans for LGBT+ History Month at Trinity
What have you achieved so far as LGBT+ Officer?
I see my most important achievement to be something more than an individual action or event, but something broader: my role as a representative. It has been my job to champion the needs and interests of all LGBT+ people in College, acting as a voice for a group that for so long was without one.
This has involved working in conjunction with my equivalent on the BA Committee, Sarah Gibson. This representation has meant the College Council has debated inclusive language for non-binary people (people whose gender is not fully described by ‘male’ or ‘female’) in College communication following a proposal submitted by Sarah, and in future the TCSU committee will communicate with the new intake of Freshers in gender neutral language.
I have also worked with 1TQ, Trinity’s LGBT+ Society, to organise successful social events such as a Christmas Party, a May Week Garden Party, and Film Nights in the JCR. My term as LGBT+ Officer ends this month, so I’m looking forward to seeing what my successor is able to achieve.
As a student of history, how does a historical perspective inform your role?
History is my greatest passion, and I am really interested in the nature of LGBT+ identities in a broader, historical context. This has been especially relevant during my thinking about the nature of LGBT+ History Month and our conceptions of LGBT+ people from the past.
To ascribe modern conceptions of sexuality and gender identity to historical figures, whether it is Francis Bacon, A.E. Houseman or Lytton Strachey, is tempting but ultimately anachronistic, and I think it does them an injustice. What is far more interesting is to interrogate their own conceptions of their sexuality – if they had one at all – and place that in a wider, social context.
What events are planned for LGBT+ History Month at Trinity?
The theme this year is ‘Religion, Belief, and Faith’ and I’m very excited to see Rabbi Ariel Friedlander and other speakers (to be confirmed) come to Trinity at the end of February to discuss the relationship between religion and LGBT+ rights. It will be an interesting and timely debate, as recently the Church of England sanctioned the US Episcopal Church by banning it from decision-making bodies within the Synod for allowing same-sex marriages, whilst reaffirming its commitment to ‘traditional doctrine’ in relation to marriage. This is very disappointing and I am looking forward to hearing the debate at Trinity.
What are the aims of 1TQ?
The College’s LGBT+ Society exists in conjunction with the LGBT+ Officer of TCSU – the Officer automatically becomes Co-President! This is a really good system, as it ensures the LGBT+ Officer is always working with the broader LGBT+ community in College. It aims to connect self-identifying LGBT+ people together through social events throughout the year. 1TQ is a lively and vibrant reflection of Trinity’s LGBT+ community!
What are you hopes for LGBT+ students at Trinity in future?
I hope that LGBT+ students are able to live happy and fulfilled lives at Trinity, supported by a network of LGBT+ students, alumni, and staff. My great hope is that one day the position of LGBT+ Officer will not be needed.
The existence of the role is indicative of structural inequalities and the oppression that LGBT+ people face every day – I believe that in future there will be equality and that minorities will no longer require specific representation. Until then, I hope that LGBT+ students will involve themselves in the Trinity community, aided by the LGBT+ Officer and 1TQ. I hope a LGBT+ alumni network will be set up, like the new and successful Trinity Women’s Network, which would foster relations between LGBT+ alumni and current students and staff. This would help to build an even bigger sense of community, based on solidarity and support.