Original Ad: Volunteer Flyer, created by Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, sexual assault and harassment have become prevalent topics within current events and social media. In response to the movement, resources pertaining to sexual harassment and/or assault have been more widely circulated through social media. Throughout the movement there has been a focus upon individuals—whether it be sharing personal experiences, or involvement in resources, such as volunteering with organizations that provide services for those who have experienced sexual assault or harassment.
The flyer I have chosen for this assignment was created by the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, an organization that is prominent within the area and one that has been vocal during the #MeToo movement. The advertisement itself is quite bare in comparison to others, as it does not contain any images. The information that is present is also quite limited, which is part of the problem that I have chosen to address in my jamming. The flyer expresses the need for “women volunteers,” which at first glance, seems like an opportunity for a person to be involved with an organization that seeks to provide services for those who have experienced sexual assault and/or harassment.
However, the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter has longstanding policies which exclude trans women from all aspects, including receiving services and involvement within the organization through volunteering. One of the most well known instances of exclusion is encapsulated by the legal dispute between the shelter and Kimberley Nixon, who had applied to volunteer, but was rejected based on Nixon being a trans woman. The issue with the advertisement is twofold, the first being that with the scant information available, folks unaware of the organization’s policies may apply to volunteer, only to be rejected for similar reasons as the Kimberly Nixon case. This possibility would also mean that folks could be subject to trauma caused by an interaction like Nixon’s. The second issue is the general exclusion of trans women from the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter and other similar organizations.
My jammed version of the advertisement seeks to challenge the flyer’s audience. The Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter had created a simple advertisement, scant of information at a time where sexual assault and harassment have become prevalent topics within conversations across all forms and throughout social media. As these issues have been catapulted onto a larger stage, resources such as the shelter have also received attention, as they have been circulated in attempts to ensure those who have experienced sexual assault and/or harassment are aware of the services available. My jamming of the advertisement was done with the intent to lead the audience to ask questions about the shelter and of other organizations as well.
The longstanding exclusionary policies enforced by the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter is symptomatic of the larger issue of trans exclusionary politics. The jamming of this particular advertisement attempts to draw attention to this organization’s history. The imposition of the term “cis” in red aims to question the shelter’s intended meaning of the term “women”. Replacing the original advertisements “for more information” with a more striking statement that reflects the organization’s perspective on trans women is purposefully subversive. The original flyer requests that those who are interested in becoming involved as a volunteer seek more information, presenting the opportunity for trans women to contact the shelter, only to be rejected, while the jammed version is upfront about what exactly the shelter means. The purpose of jamming this flyer was to encourage readers to question advertisements and the organizations like these, which do not, at first glance, appear to be injurious. My intent was also to draw attention to the exclusion of trans women within organizations like the shelter and to highlight the ways in which access to such resources are restricted by such policies.