Monash’s Ensemble Club (@ensemble.monash), established in 2020 is a relatively new and special addition to Monash’s plethora of student clubs and societies. As a club, they strive to create a safe, tolerant space for all marginalized communities within Monash University and encourage open discourse on a wide variety of topics, most prominently on those related to body positivity, sexuality, gender, race, and disabilities.
Ensemble’s recent event: “Inclusivity Day: Addressing Discrimination in Healthcare” was an interactive online affair that took place on Facebook Live on the 14th of August 2021. This delightful event aimed to not only entertain those in attendance but to also raise awareness about healthcare discrimination against disenfranchised communities, specifically in regards to the LGBTQIA+ community in Malaysia, mainland China, and Australia.
The lineup of this spectacular two-hour event featured:
Firstly, Dr He Xiaopei, a leading queer feminist filmaker from China utlises her personal experience as well as of those around her, discovered during her travels, in order to weave together heart-warming films that are filled with life, diversity and representation.
She was interviewed by Dr Bao Hongwei (he/him), an Associate Professor in Media Studies at the University of Nottingham.
Emphasis was placed on sexuality and experiences being on a spectrum, and the need for understanding as well respecting various perspectives that have not necessarily been represented in mainstream media.
Similarly, in reference to healthcare discrimination, it was highlighted that homosexuality should not be deemed a mental illness, and that creative forms of expression can be viewed as a noble medium to raise awareness.
Up next, those in attendance were mesmerised by a phenomenal performance by Sakura (she/her), a Monash student who performed two acoustic covers; ‘Summertime Sadness’ by Lana Del Ray and ‘Sweater Weather’ by The Neighbourhood.
It is interesting to note that both songs depict the fleeting yet bewitching nature of relationships. Both songs were aptly selected as they represent an era, aesthetic, and identity that many members of the LGBTQIA+ community strongly relate to.
Sakura’s performance coupled with her dulcet voice indeed showcased a nostalgic appreciation towards genderless, and sexually freeing intimacy.
Additionally, Nisha Ayub, a local transgender and human rights rights activist took centre stage to speak about the history of healthcare discrimination for transgender individuals.
She emphasized that the transgender community has always existed within Malaysia, instead of the conventional thought that gender transitioning is a product of Western values, brought over to Asian societies thorugh the media.
It was stressed that the act of just respecting one’s pronouns and gender identity is a simple yet effective way to showcase support, acceptance, and respect towards the transgender community.
Finally, Jacob Thomas (they/them), a guest lecturer in Global Studies at Monash University Australia was invited to add their significant and compelling perspective on this topic, ending this event on an inspiring note.
Their experience with queerness in healthcare drew attention to discriminatory practices embedded deep within the healthcare community such as the “Trans Broken Arm Syndrome” wherein a healthcare professional assumes that all medical issues are a result of a person being trans.
Likewise, they also performed as their drag queen alter ego “Pattie-Choux” before their session, entertaining everyone with a spectacular and sassy lip-sync performance while decked out in elaborate make-up and an impeccable sense of style. This truly was a stunning representation of gender fluidity and passion for drag.
Hosted by Allyssa (he/she/they) and Genu (she/her), Inclusivity Day 2021 was a success.
As a well thought out and carefully structured event, Ensemble was not only able to entertain the guests in attendance but also provide a glimpse and raise awareness on the serious issue of healthcare discrimination among LGBTQIA+ individuals.
Article by Ashley Lim & Shabnam Sidhu
Header by Chai Ting Ho