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February 8, 2023

International Women’s Day: Rani Kandasamy

I can’t believe it took me till this campaign to look back at the journey I’ve made. All the way back to June 2019 when I escaped the ‘mold’ of the environment I was raised in by choosing to pursue higher education abroad, in Australia. As a Trans Person of Color who is also an International Student every day there is a new barrier, but I persevered. Perseverance lead me to contribute to the Student Community across my many Student Service roles on campus so that other International Students can see me and understand the brilliance of being a Queer person of Color; that we have a presence, that we have a say, that we are just as valid, and that we are just as integral to society. I’d like to dedicate this piece to all my Transwomen and Ciswomen: So Heads Up Ladies. We sashay to the finish line at dawn. 

Preferred pronouns: He/She/They (Any pronouns)

Tell us about what International Women’s Day means to you? 

I like to think that a designated day like International Women’s Day is when we champion for our women at our LOUDEST. We get the chance to sit down and tell our stories, and tell the stories of women who don’t have a voice, or who live their journey silently and never get credit they deserve. We get to highlight and celebrate the work that the women around us have done to pave a path for us. We get to inspire and be inspired by women. Having said all that, personally, any support shown to a marginalized cohort in society deserves more than just one day of advocacy. The support needs to be alive all throughout the year.   

In your time at Deakin, what has been your proudest achievement? 

Allowing Queer People of Color to take center stage; especially International Students. I started involving myself in as many student centric roles, activities, campaigns, panels, and events so I can listen to and share mine and my demographics’ lived-experiences at places that implement change. As someone who came to Australia seeking a better life I know too well how taxing it is to split myself between the roots that bind me to my unaccepting home country, and figuring out my sexuality and gender. I was a false character with family, and a confused character in reality. I didn’t have anyone to guide me or inspire me to explore and expand my potential. When I noticed gaps in the advocacy for Queer People of Color I decided I was going to make some noise for all of us, let people know we exist and that we need to be catered for and included in conversations entailing diversity; but also inspire International Queer Students to lower their guard, to feel a  more secure and comfortable in their own skin. To think I’ve contributed to the progress I now see all around me, for QPOC, at Deakin, still surprises me. 

We know discrimination still exists, what are some of the barriers you think that women are facing today that need more attention?  

The transition from blatant discrimination to microaggressions – Just because you don’t see people actively and directly discriminating doesn’t mean all our problems have vanished. Bigotry can be subtle and hidden in everyday conversations and behavior. We must always question people’s basis.  

Lack of Autonomy – We are in the year 2023, but there are still people who question the choices that women make for themselves with a certain control that they never exercise on men. People tend to set expectations as to how Transwomen should present or behave so that they can be more ‘understandable’ to society, and if we are difficult to comprehend, we lose people’s attention. But you don’t need to understand us to accept us.

How do you feel Deakin supports women? 

There is a very strong expectation for Respect and Belonging within the various communities at Deakin from Student to Staff bodies. I have noticed a very strong trend of people willing to listen and welcome diverse voices, and Deakin continually letting me bring my thoughts to the table and valuing them in conversations means so much to me. Deakin has always given me the chance to take up space and let my voice be heard, and that’s what women need, to be heard, to be acknowledged, to be supported in our advocacy.

What are some of the ways someone can help drive a gender equal future?  

We can start our advocacy with: 

Learning about the hurdles marginalized groups face. Understanding the differences in privilege. Creating working groups who can share their experiences and thoughts on the way something works. Let’s discuss the double standards and expectations we seem to set for the genders.   

You can’t change a system unless you’ve listened to the oppression caused by the system from the oppressed. Listen to what we have to say as an affected demographic. Don’t believe what the unaffected majority have to say about us, listen to what we have to say about us.  

Explore our other International Women’s Day profiles here

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