Meet the Candidates for TFAC Co-Chair

The TFAC black cat.

The following statements are from candidates running for the position of Trans Feminist Action Caucus (TFAC) Co-Chair. Only TFAC members may vote for TFAC Co-Chairs.

Voting will open at the August 14 TFAC meeting and continue for three days in the union office (143 Atkinson Building) from 10 am to 4 pm.

Tanya Da Sylva

My name is Tanya Da Sylva, I am a Unit 2 member that teaches mainly in the Faculty of Science. I served as the worker co-chair of the CUPE3903 JHSC for two years (April 2015 – March 2017). I, along with other worker members, pushed the employer for CUPE3903 to have a more active role in the development of the sexual assault policy. I also worked with TFAC to push back against the employer as they still insisted on creating a policy that does not centre survivors. Since stepping down from the JHSC I have tried to remain active in union spaces, mainly through TFAC, attending meetings whenever possible and working on projects as they arise.

Gin Marshall

My name is Gin Marshall and I am writing this in support of my self-nomination for the Executive position of TFAC Co-Chair. As an older trans human with disabilities, my anti-discrimination and anti-oppression values are aligned those of the Trans Feminist Action Caucus. I am also a parent, mosaic artist, writer and activist. During my early parenting years as an out queer in a small town, I learned to be a suburban activist, fighting teachers, school boards and employers whose practices included pervasive homophobia that affected and sometimes fired and failed me and my young child. My passion for queer and trans freedoms and my desire to uncover some sort of historical model to secure and protect the rights some queer and trans people have gained in the global north, supported my Masters of Environmental Studies application. With graduate courses like Jin Haritaworn and Syrus Ware’s New Social Movements, Activism and Social Change, I am working to learn more about the different ways that my privilege skews my awareness. Picketing these last five months on the 8th line with a team, and meeting such strong, dedicated and unfaltering union members, inspired me to become part of this union by self-nominating for this position. I have many years of experience on boards and committees, and years of co-facilitating support groups, all of which help me to function well in a group while adhering to the values I support. If this description inspires you to imagine I could be a valuable TFAC Co-Chair, please consider voting for me.

Alex Petit-Thorne

My name is Alex Petit-Thorne and I am running for the position of TFAC Co-Chair. I am motivated by my strong commitment to anti-oppressive feminist and queer politics and my lived experiences as a queer woman on this campus.

I became very involved with the local during the last strike and that experience has really highlighted the need for a TFAC that is engaged, active, autonomous, and activism-driven. My aim is to build more inclusive spaces, especially in light of the hostile environment the strike created, and to continue to build space for community within the local. My first priority is ensuring that female and trans identified members feel safe in union spaces and on campus as a whole. I want to ensure that union spaces are accessible to TFAC members; as a member who was harassed regularly during the strike, I am strongly committed to developing internal protocols surrounding harassment and other forms of gender and sex-based violence. I want to create and encourage spaces in which TFAC members can openly discuss their own experiences of discrimination and be supported.

TFAC has played a key role in bargaining and while we have made gains, we have a lot of work to do following the strike. I will continue organizing against York’s shameful sexual assault policies and their newly rebranded Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education and to continue working towards a survivor-centric sexual assault centre and policy. I also want to ensure that TFAC continues to hold York accountable and that the lactation accommodations that TFAC members won during this strike are properly implemented.

I have been active in CUPE 3903 since joining as a Unit 1 member in 2017 as a steward. During the strike I was involved in organizing actions around lactation accommodations, worked to mobilize against the forced ratification vote, and was actively involved with a number of other successful actions. I also served as a picket captain at Northwest gate, a picket coordinator, and an active member of the strike committee.

Siobhán Saravanamuttu

New to CUPE 3903 in 2017-18, I became very involved during the strike and feel really lucky to have organized and mobilized alongside many amazing TFAC members. As a disabled woman of colour I worked hard to challenge numerous equity issues I observed and encountered during the strike on Sentinel and 8th lines, participated in actions in support of the Sexual Assault Survivor Fund, and was a vocal advocate of prioritizing the safety and well-being of survivors of sexual abuse and violence in union spaces. Throughout the strike, I’ve also been involved in the Anti-Racism Committee, Strike Hardship Fund adjudication committee, strike committee, and the flying squad. Prior to being a 3903 member, I became involved with student activism at York as a master’s student in the department of Politics, working to counteract dominant dynamics of misogyny, transphobia, racism, and ableism, including acting as my graduate program’s Equity Committee Co-Chair. I have also worked in community as an advocate against sexual violence for many years and my research interests focusses on issues of gender, disability, migration, and work.

In the coming year, as we collect ourselves post-strike, there is a lot of work to be done in our local, at York, and in the community. I am committed to continuing TFAC’s important work of holding the university accountable for its continued dismissal and undermining of sexual violence survivors. I hope that TFAC can also be at the forefront of opposing increased right-wing populism and stand together with other groups in our community against the growing presence of transphobic, misogynistic, Islamophobic and racist violence and rhetoric in our workplace and communities. If chosen as TFAC co-chair, an immediate priority would be to work with TFAC members to improve and maintain the networks of solidarity and care formed during the strike. As a member of the newly invigorated Anti-Racism Committee, I hope to encourage stronger connections between TFAC, ARC, the Accessibility Committee and the Trans Caucus in our shared work of supporting our often multiply marginalized members.

Thania Vega

My name is Thania, or simply T. I am running for TFAC because I believe that it plays an important role in providing a voice and services to some of the most marginalized members of CUPE 3903. As a TFAC co-chair I would be committed to maintaining an open space for members to make democratic decisions about how TFAC resources should be spent. I am also prepared to take a lead in planning events and activities in order to meet the social justice goals and values of our union.

I am a PhD candidate in Political Science and currently volunteer as a member of the editorial board of Upping the Anti – A Journal of Radical Theory and Action. I am also a very active union member: I played an active role in the strike as a member of the Flying Squad, have served as a member of the Extended Health Benefit adjudication committee, took part in the hiring of staff for our union, and I am also a member of the First Nations Solidarity Working Group. I thank you for your consideration.