Katie Nelson

Milo Eyre-Morgan is not new to the stresses involved in campaigning for and representing marginalised groups and students, having been LGBT+ Officer on their college’s JCR and Trans Rep for the LGBT+ Campaign. Thus, their role as Women’s Officer for the Cambridge Students’ Union Women’s Campaign (WomCam) comes as a natural continuation of their work started previously.

Perhaps newer to Milo is the experience of being under the spotlight in the press. Earlier this term, Milo found themselves at the centre of a tabloid media storm following the publication of WomCam’s “How to Spot TERF Ideology” guide. The release of the guide was met with online backlash and criticism aimed both at the SU and Milo himself. Milo tells me that they did “anticipate that there would be some big fuss about it”, but struggled particularly with “assumptions about the intent of the guide that I didn’t necessarily expect”.

“I am not really under any illusions about the limits of [the guide]”, Milo explains, but “having a small project like that where you can do something, even if it’s quite limited in its scope, is quite good for building momentum and for tackling bigger issues”. In its essence, the guide is “not exactly going to address some of the huge material issues that the trans community faces”, but it does serve a purpose within the university context, especially for people who might be organising feminist spaces, in order to help make those spaces safer for trans people.

“It’s not a debate or a thought experiment - it’s our lives and existence”

Milo is very conscious of the fact that Cambridge “is a place where people encounter issues like gender and transness in very abstract ways,” making it “easy to...keep that distance from the real life implications of what’s being talked about.” The TERF ideology guide is therefore also intended as a tool to reduce the disconnect between academia and lived experiences. “It’s always very frustrating to hear it referred to as...‘The Trans Debate’,” he notes, “because it’s not a debate or a thought experiment - it’s our lives and existence”.

The guide is just one small part of the work that Milo is doing in his position as Women’s Officer. “Large scale goals that I have going forward this year...are things like out-of-term support for students or support for intermitting students,” he shares with me. These goals, which Milo acknowledges do not immediately seem like a Women’s Officer’s job, are evidence of their dynamic, intersectional approach of targeting students’ needs at the axes where they meet, and ultimately working towards “more autonomy for students.”

Despite having held multiple student advocacy positions during their time in Cambridge, and now this role as Woman’s Officer, Milo still has reflections on what they have learned from being part of the Woman’s Campaign, as well the experience with the press flurry following the TERF ideology guide. They describe how “even though I had a fair idea of what was coming [with the release of the guide], I was still surprisingly exhausted by it...I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned from doing this role so far is knowing when to stop.”

Milo also shares some of their own experience with WomCam prior to taking on a leadership role. “When I first started going to WomCam I had just started medically transitioning and, specifically in gendered spaces, I noticed that as I ‘masculinised’... I found myself being treated markedly differently, and in some ways more negatively, because I became more obviously not like the kind of person you might expect to be in the space.”

Asked how this has shaped his work with the SU, he explains that “the ways of thinking that [made people treat him differently] are really often unconscious, and for me having experienced being quite hurt by that, it is very easy for me to spot that happening”. He adds that, “ what is actually going to be making things change is trying to remember that and turn it back around and be reflective of my own behavior as well.”


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They point out that “a space can be nominally trans-inclusive but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be,” explaining that transmasculine people are often “more comfortably accepted into a lot of gendered feminist spaces than transfeminine people often are.” With this in mind, they “want the campaign to work for the students within it and the students who are on committee...I obviously have access to working hours and institutional resources that I can provide support with, but I...want to make sure that its as community-led as possible” as well as “just bearing in mind that it’s as much my job as the job of any cis person...to make sure that WomCam is inclusive to transfeminine people.”

Milo’s work with the SU is particularly significant today, on Trans Day of Remembrance. Commemorated by the SU in a joint effort between the Women’s Campaign and the LGBT+ Campaign, a vigil will be co-hosted at 4pm on the 20th. Milo tells me how “Trans Day of Remembrance is very much a time to stop and allow some space to...do that switching off by recognising that it is extremely stressful to be constantly campaigning about things that affect you in very direct and personal ways and to come together as a community.”

“I think that having that day where you can take that space and think about the losses that we have experienced and use those feelings...as energy to move forward with the politics and the campaigning...It’s a very useful space to give that motivation but also to give people space to take care of themselves.”