Welcoming women and trans folk

U of W centre reminds students where they are

Free condoms, pregnancy tests and more are available in the centre.

Photo by Meg Crane

The University of Winnipeg’s Women and Trans Spectrum Centre (WTSC) is hosting an event in The Hive on Oct. 5 to let students know a bit more about the space.

“Sometimes, there are folks on campus who don’t know about us and don’t know that we’re here,” WTSC coordinator Marieke Gruwel says.

That’s why she decided to host the casual WTSC Hang Out & Clothing Swap near the beginning of the school year. Gruwel wants students to know that it’s a safe space on campus for people who identify as women or trans to hang out and access resources such as free condoms and pregnancy tests.

Gruwel says there’s also a phone, computer and microwave available for use in the centre, as well as coffee and tea to be enjoyed.

“We’re just a great place to hang out,” she says. 

On Oct. 5, people familiar with the space will give tours to newbies, starting off from The Hive where it’s hosting the WTSC Hang Out & Clothing Swap.

While only women and trans folks can use the centre itself, this event is open to all.

Anyone with clothes to get rid of can bring them the day of or drop them off at the WTSC beforehand during coordinator hours, but no one has to donate clothes to the swap to be able to take some.

“They don’t have to feel like they have to bring anything. It’ll just be fun. There will be snacks and refreshments,” Gruwel says.

She’ll lead participants in creating a zine about WTSC, although contributors really don’t have to have any experiences with or knowledge about the centre to be able to help. 

She says they already have the information they want to go into the zine. They just need folks to come make the pages.

In the end, it will be a small handbook for folks who come to the centre and want to know more about it.

“It’ll just be a really fun time (to) get to know some of the folks on campus,” Gruwel says.

Claire Renic says she was heavily involved with the centre last year and spent a great deal of her time planning and organizing centre events with Gruwel.

“It definitely made my first-year experience, like last year, a lot more fulfilling. It just gave me a lot to do,” Renic says.

To her, it’s a space that provides important resources and fosters relationships.

It’s also a space to bring up gender and feminist issues that are frequently in the media but which there are a lot of misconceptions about.

During the free period on Wednesdays, Gruwel says there is a centre meeting where they have these discussions about relevant feminist news. They also organize events, catch up with one another and chat about what’s going on with the WTSC.

“It’s a nice way to make some new friends,” Gruwel says.

She promises there will be lots of fun events this year – possibly including a Lizzy McGuire dance party – that people of all genders should watch out for.

The WTSC Hang Out & Clothing Swap is taking place Oct. 5 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. in The Hive. The event is free and open to everyone.

Published in Volume 71, Number 4 of The Uniter (September 29, 2016)

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