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Violence inevitable for trans students at Sydney university

Violence inevitable for trans students at Sydney university

Western Sydney University. Photo: Facebook

Trans and gender diverse students at a university in Sydney have received ongoing threats of violence from fellow students. They believe physical assault against them is almost inevitable.

They live at Western Sydney University’s Hawkesbury campus’ student village about an hour’s drive north-west of Sydney.

WSU’s student newspaper W’SUP reported it was approached by several students who said they were victims of ‘systemic transphobic bullying’. The group of students said they had also faced violent outbursts from their peers.

Charlie* is a WSU student who identifies as non-binary. A group of fellow students allegedly threatened Charlie with weapons and were not seriously disciplined after the incident.

‘I had people come into the place I was living, with pots, and pans, and bats … it was pretty serious,’ they told W’SUP.

‘The solution was to give them a written warning. There was nothing beyond a sort of slap on the wrist.’

Charlie has copped harassment online from his fellow students but the real-world threats are much scarier. One night a group of students allegedly started bashing their window at 2am and stuck a stolen female bathroom sign on their window

‘There’s over 100 people living on res[idence], pretty much majority of them had said something to me on social media. [The posts were] really negative. I got a lot of slurs, ‘tranny’ … ‘trap’, stuff like that,’ they said.

Death threats

Harry* said he’s scared to leave his house on campus and in early March got a terrifying threat from a fellow student.

‘You live in a 300 metre radius from these people, it’s not something you can get away from,’ he said.

‘I had a threat against me, going ‘we should burn you, we should kill you’.

‘[Your home’s] supposed to be a safe space; it’s supposed to be your space. You can’t really feel safe when there’s people who want to hurt you for being trans.’

Harry said he had spoken with the student village’s management about not feeling safe but they told him there was not much they could do.

‘We work extremely closely with the University support services, who are the experts, as the name suggests, in providing appropriate support,’ said Steve Tucker, General Manager of WSU student village,

‘Where breach notices (official warnings) are issued for behaviour, these are forwarded to the University for further consideration.’

Tucker said the alleged physical threats would likely ‘constitute a criminal matter’.

But student village management did release Harry and Charlie from their residential contracts without a fee so they could look for somewhere else to live.

*Not their real names.