As a part of LGBT+ History Month, Stevie Lam, from the School of Medicine has teamed up with IQ Society to celebrate our LGBT+ community and share their stories!
Jeh – 4th Year MBBS Medicine
I think my role is centered in my visibility as a queer and gender non-conforming person. I have found myself in various positions including IQ Trans and Gender Variant Officer, IQ President, Union LGBT+ Officer and finally, this year, IQ Campaigns Officer. What these roles all encompass is bringing a voice to the larger LGBT+ community.
Trans students, in particular, face many challenges at Imperial. There are societal aspects to this, of course, but day-to-day college matters can be difficult: when I came to Imperial, the title on my ID card was wrong and the registry wouldn’t amend it. At that point there was no such thing as a Trans/GV Officer, so without someone to back me up, a lot of my efforts did not have any effect. Now, however, serving in the roles I’ve listed above, I’ve had the chance to help many other students in the same or similar situation that I was in. The college itself has also improved since then, and I am very thankful to the Student Services team for taking on the creation of a policy for trans students at Imperial. Having the opportunity to advocate on behalf of people like me is the most rewarding part of being visibly and outspokenly LGBTQ at Imperial.
LGBT+ inclusivity in the medical curriculum
Something that has been a challenge for me since I started here is the lack of LGBT+ inclusivity in the medical curriculum. In my first year, I raised some concerns about Living Anatomy sessions and the inclusion of gender diverse people and their bodies/presentations. The way this was handled was extremely disheartening and really showed a gap in the medical school’s awareness. When it came time for the curriculum review, it seemed like the perfect time to revisit this and bring Imperial up to date with LGBT+ healthcare. Although IQ made a huge effort into reviewing the course on our own and bringing suggestions to the Faculty about areas of the course that could be improved or added to, the outcome left much to be desired.
I think medical schools have a responsibility to train doctors that understand all types of people and the unique aspects of different groups’ healthcare, and Imperial is not taking this responsibility seriously enough. I appreciated the efforts by some faculty and staff in trying to make changes, but more change needs to happen. Other universities are ahead in this regard, and the thought of future Imperial-trained doctors being behind is not a good one.
Tai – 2nd Year MBBS Medicine
I attend IQ events, join fellow LGBTQ+ friends to hang out and just interact with the community in person. I like meeting other members of the community and understanding how our lives are different from our “straight” counterparts, given that the same traditional life events aren’t expected from us. It’s the stories which interest me the most, sharing your own with others lets you connect with them.
Imperial IQ is an amazing society full of accepting people, the events they hold and the support offered, give you deeper friendships in the LGBT community. Which at Imperial is very diverse, it allows very different people to have a good time and enjoy each other without questioning their existence.
I think more Faculty events might be useful, careers forums and discussions allow interaction between students and professionals which helps students understand how their experiences transfer after university. I also think attitudes from students are something which can and is changing for the better.
Geraldine – PhD student
I’m happy to represent the community, because I know there was definitely a time in my life where I was struggling with my identity, because I didn’t feel like I fit lesbian stereotypes I could see out there. Now I know that being a lesbian is not about looking a certain way or doing certain things. You just have to be a woman and love other women.
I think there’s definitely a lot more that can be done at Imperial, especially around trans rights (more gender-neutral bathrooms) and intersectionality – we have a big international population, we have to understand that struggles may different depending on where you come from.
Maria – 4th Year MBBS Medicine
I thoroughly enjoy being part of the LGBTQ+ community. I believe it gives me a sense of belonging and supportive system where I can fully express myself. It is important to surround yourself with people who are in alliance with the community, and by spreading positivity about the LGBTQ+ community, we can expand these alliances.
I would like the presence and voices of the community to be stronger as I believe we are not very well represented.
Alexa – PhD Health Economics
I am an out and proud lesbian. I am also the founder of Queeries – a very queer startup! We teach people how to be LGBTQ+ competent!
I started as a subwarden three years ago for Imperial’s Woodward Hall. I quickly realised that Woodward Hall could benefit from an LGBTQ+ group. I therefore created an LGBTQ+ group for my students in halls – we meet about once a month to discuss relevant hot topics, current events, pop culture, etc.
Support from leadership
I would like to see more leadership from both senior academics and senior administrators. There is no better way to improve the experience of people in the LGBTQ+ community than to see people in leadership positions supporting and committing to the cause.
Freya – 5th Year MBBS Medicine
This year I’m LGBT+ Officer at Imperial. I’ve been engaging with our community through campaigning and events such as World AIDS Day, introducing trans healthcare into the medical curriculum and LGBT History Month. I’m keen to engage more with our student body to run and support campaigns that will improve student experience. Feel free to contact me!
Find your community
Like most things at Imperial, the queer community can feel male dominated. I’ve particularly struggled to find queer spaces that I feel a sense of belonging within my course. Luckily I found that sense of belonging at Women’s Rugby, arguably the second queerest society at Imperial after IQ. Rugby has been a vital community for me where I’ve made queer and less queer life long friends.
I feel very strongly about introducing trans healthcare into the medical school curriculum. Currently trans people are not treated with the respect and understanding they deserve in healthcare. Considering Imperial has one of the biggest gender clinics in Europe, Imperial medical students are not sufficiently equipped to treat trans patients with the best level of care.
Lucy – 2nd Year BSc Medical Biosciences
I personally have felt very comfortable being a member of the LGBTQ+ community at Imperial, but I think a huge part of this is being surrounded by lovely people both on my course and in the societies I am involved in.
LGBTQ+ experiences at Imperial could perhaps be improved by introducing a greater variety of IQ events and advertising these better across campus so that more people get involved with them. I personally never got involved with IQ until second year but am glad that I now have!
Jake – 4th MBBS Year Medicine
I think my role as part of the LGBTQ+ community is just to be myself, be proud, be happy and have fun.
My experiences of being a member of the LGBTQ+ community has been all positive – I’ve made some great friends and everyone generally is accepting here. Plus, London is extremely accepting and has many LGBT+ friendly places to visit.
Photos and text curated by Stevie Lam with the support of Imperial Union and IQ society.