#exitracismudk: Conversations With Students Behind the Protest

Three months into the global pandemic, during the already heavy and politically tense month of June 2020, groups of UdK students started gathering to speak up about the racial injustices within the university. At the time, the Black Lives Matter movement that set off in the US after the brutal murder of George Floyd on May 25 had already sent a powerful ripple effect across Europe. The so-called “silent protests” happened in all major cities, including Berlin, where two peaceful anti-racism “demos” on May 30 and June 7 filled the streets.

Shortly after, on June 11, the students hung protest banners from the windows of the UdK building in Hardenbergstraße in support of the movement. The banners were removed and stolen overnight, which left students “shocked by the disinterest and lack of solidarity on the part of the teachers” (as stated in the open letter by the #exitracismudk organizers) concerning the incident and their ongoing anti-racist work. The growing dissatisfaction culminated in a protest in July during the UdK Rundgand which revealed disturbing levels of racist discrimination in the university through a displayed collection of student reports.

The BLM movement’s breakthrough impact was – and still is – felt worldwide. At UdK, mainly thanks to the organized work of students, racism and the needed structural changes are now being talked about more than before, but not yet meaningfully acted upon. However, in a 300-year-old institution counting about 4 000 members, changes won’t happen overnight, or over a few months, or even years. For them to be happening at all in the long run, the July 2020 protest and the students‘ work before and after laid out some necessary blueprints.

In the open letter #exitracismUDK which was part of the protest, the students demanded “to study at a university that recognizes their structural barriers and discrimination, resolutely and sustainably tackles them, and unitedly supports diversity-oriented and anti-racist organizational development.” They called for “the university management to support and expand existing structures, groups, and actors critical of discrimination, financially and structurally.” 

To understand how the situation developed since then and how it might influence further progress, I asked four of the involved students to reflect on the events and their own thoughts and feelings. The interviews were conducted in December 2020. The answers are anonymized to protect the individuals, as well as to emphasize that the protest was a collective endeavor aiming to raise awareness of racism and incite transformation in the direction of social justice, anti-discrimination, and decolonization.

How were your demands received by the university so far? Has anybody from the UdK officials reached out yet? Were there any promises made? If yes – are any of these promises fulfilled or in progress?

→ The most positive responses came from outside of the university.  At UdK, many didn’t even know about the protest. Some professors signed the petition and very few reached out to us. Maybe the others didn’t know whom to reach.

→ I heard from others from the protest’s organizational group that we were mentioned in an Instagram post, which said that the Rundgang went well and there were some interesting protests about climate change and racism. I heard of two anti-racism workshops, but they were just for a small group of people.

What has been achieved with this protest? Not just in terms of how the demands were met or not, but in a broader sense. Do you think it triggered anything? If yes – what? Was it all worth it?

→ I think two things were happening. First, there were really productive specific demands by AG Intersectional Antidiscrimination that could be implemented very soon. On this front, from what I know, the school’s administration hasn’t done much or only implemented small changes. But the second aspect, something probably all protests carry in them, was that it pushed issues that need sustained attention to the front. This is about influencing a discourse. And I think it’s difficult to identify how much weight one action has on this, but it’s certain to me that it had some. Structures that have been building up for centuries can’t be changed over one summer. So everybody, and especially the “unmarked” people in the respective power structures, has to stay alert, has to keep pushing for change. Critique is not a one-off thing, it has to be part of an everyday life practice. I think the protest has made that very clear and has shown that this school is in dire need of such practice. In this sense, I believe it has been very successful. Whether it was worth it is something I can’t answer. I am very grateful it happened, and I’m sure it had a positive impact on the discourse within the school, but it’s up to the mostly female and/or queer BIPoCs who were in the front line, who carried this protest, to tell whether it was worth it.

→ In terms of the perpetrators of toxic structures, I don’t think the protest changed anything. I don’t think it even generated enough pressure to do that. They just get away easily. But on the optimistic side, and this is the only hope I see, a lot of students and others approached me to say – this is really cool what you’re doing.  Among our generation, there were a lot of positive reactions. Interflugs wanted to do panel discussions. It was somewhat inspiring for some people and I think that can have a long-term effect. Maybe someone will come again and do it better than we did sometime in the future, but I don’t think anything will change at all. Nothing was really done until this point. Things like anti-racist workshops are just another cosmetic change. A workshop is the smallest change you can make and it’s the easiest thing you can do. You have this one time and then it’s out of the way, and you can always refer in the next five years to this workshop that happened even though it’s impossible to prove whether the workshop actually had results. So, the workshop is a rhetorical defense strategy of proving that something has been done although nothing has been done. It’s kind of an alibi.

Rundgang usually ends with the closing and certainly involves emotions, but it is incomparable to the emotional and affective labor that was invested by the students before, during, and after the Rundgang 2020 protest. Some people have had a difficult few months afterward and are still recovering emotionally, so the work hasn’t stopped yet. Can you relate to this and talk about invisible labor? How much work this protest was actually, and still is, up until today? 

→ How the situation unfolded and the emotional labor it required was the worst. It’s a painful process. In any form of activism, you must get used to people telling you that what you’re doing is no good and you should stop doing it and be ashamed for doing it in the first place. They’re going to find ways of convincing you of this and really getting under your skin. It will be like that anyway. And you can get very stressed about it, it’s not a nine-to-five job. You’re not going to get away from this emotional payment, it’s going to be there for sure. But there should be some moments in which you reach out to each other. Ultimately, many people were doing that. However, there should also be moments when you have these conversations collectively; meetings where you talk about how you feel as a group and discuss any doubts that might have occurred. That just never happened and I think that’s what is needed. But when I got into this, I didn’t even think it would get that far. I didn’t come with expectations that we will change anything. I think this is a very big misconception that many people have when they go into activist work, they think they will be alive and there to see the fruits of their labor, but it’s really not like that. Don’t expect that much if you want to be an activist. You’re not doing this for a sense of success.

→ The problem is that, for people who don’t suffer from structural violence as an everyday experience, the more they want to look away, they can. Sometimes they will misunderstand their attention to a problem as a charitable act of fixing somebody else’s problem and not as fighting a system one is always already a part of. As a white person who was somewhat involved in the antiracist protest, I’m in danger of misunderstanding a situation like that. I was exhausted, but I was not a fraction as exhausted as my BIPoC-friends. On a personal level, I tried to give the assistance I could, but it’s clear that it hasn’t taken the same toll on me and that the aftermath hasn’t been as long for me as it was for some of my friends. I can also only assume how the invisible labor for my BIPoC-friends often means staying nice and accommodating while watching their white friends processing racist realities they were never forced to deal with. Here I think it’s every white person’s task to keep learning, even after the hype is over, but to do so on terms that don’t put further work on the shoulders of people who have to live with racist violence directed towards them every day. Do your own research, talk to fellow white people about ways to deal with your own racist socialization, things like that.

Looking back on the protest with today’s perspective – what were the issues, and what do you wish had been done better or differently? What is important to pay attention to when working collectively for a social change? 

→ The protest was a process as democratic as it could have been. I don’t think we could have done it differently, but we definitely should have. I think the first steps to do something like this are to acknowledge that we are a heterogeneous group of people with different traumas and discrimination experiences, talk about how we want to work together, and how we want to speak to each other. The group needs to split responsibilities and not put a lot of mental pressure on a few individuals. If we want to work together, we have to raise our sensitivities.

→ One of the main issues is fear. People on the payroll of the university are scared of losing their jobs and won’t say anything. I have spoken to some professors about it, and they have been very supportive, much more than they were publicly. I don’t think it’s disingenuous; I just think that some lecturers without permanent employment are scared of losing their jobs or getting bullied. They’re not in the position to help. The only people that can really do something are students. It’s the students who have the best chances of saying their truth, being heard, and creating this kind of movement. But amongst students, there is a lot of fear as well. Some fear that there will be consequences because their professors disagree. Ultimately some risks must be taken, and many have taken them. You need to stand strong in solidarity and have a sense of collective energy, not of your singular position inside it. You have to have trust and rely on each other. What I would definitely do better is the final part of the process when the action takes place. This must be discussed more thoroughly so that everyone is on the same page and we all understand that we are going to take a huge risk together. The strategy for that moment and some kind of emotional support of each other should be planned before. I also had the feeling that, in the end, everyone was tired and kind of annoyed. You always see this kind of mentality when you work voluntarily for a cause when, all of a sudden, people realize that they have more important things to do and everybody should be happy that they helped at all because they’re not even getting paid for this. That’s the moment when things go wrong because somebody else who is also not getting paid for it, who already has enough on their plate, has to finish it.

→ I wasn’t really in the center of the organizational part, so I can only report as a bystander. I think for me, it has become clear on what precarious grounds self-organization is materializing. The meetings in the weeks before the protest were a real practice in basic democracy; everybody was invited to participate. And that’s hard work. I think this society does not necessarily prepare one for more democracy, so every time we find ourselves in positions where we are able to make more self-determined decisions, it’s also always a process of reflecting on one’s own limitations and learned behavior. Personally, this experience has inspired me to read up on theories and histories of past and present revolutionary movements. I think it’s important to understand oneself as participating in a history of people who have voiced dissent on how things are. People who have tried to find ways to establish relationships built on solidarity and equality and not on competition and artificial scarcity of resources. The more we study our revolutionary predecessors, the better we are prepared to find contemporary solutions on how to organize resistance in a fucked up world.

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Ableism is the discrimination of and social prejudice against people with differing physical and mental abilities and needs. It typically involves a negative assessment of a person’s body and mind due to skills and abilities, based on a supposed biological (physical and/or mental) norm of what an able-bodied, neurotypical person should be. Ableism can intersect with other forms of oppression such as racism and sexism. 

Adultism is the discrimination found in everyday life and law based on unequal power relationships between adults, on the one hand, and children, adolescents, and young people on the other. 

The General Equal Treatment Act (AGG), enforced since 2006, is the uniform central body of regulations in Germany for the implementation of four European anti-discrimination directives. For the first time, a law was created in Germany that comprehensively regulates protection against discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnicity, gender identification, religion or belief, ability, age, or sexual orientation.

Antisemitism is a belief system based on hatred/hostility towards or discrimination against Jewish people as a religious or racial group, Jewish institutions or anyone/anything that is perceived Jewish. Antisemitism varies over time and between cultures, with antisemitism intensifying in different historical moments.   

Accessibility names the extent to which a product, service, or environment can be used and accessed by as many people as possible. Inclusive accessibility therefore assesses the needs and desires of all possible people—including those who are neurodivergent or who have varying abilities—and incorporates these into its design and function. Changes to enable those with different abilities to have equal opportunity and participation are often referred to as accommodations.  

Harassment is undesired and non-consensual conduct that violates the dignity of another person. Harassment can often create intimidating, hostile, humiliating, or offensive environments, and can be based on someone’s sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, age, race, gender, and more. Harassment can take a variety of forms, including verbal, physical, and/or sexual. 

The gender binary is the classification of gender into two distinct and opposite categories of man/masculine and woman/feminine. This belief system assumes that one’s sex or gender assigned at birth will align with traditional social constructions of masculine and feminine identity, expression, and sexuality. Assignment beyond the gender binary is typically viewed as a deviation of the norm. 

Sex refers to a person’s biological status and is typically assigned at birth, usually based on external anatomy. Sex is typically categorized as male, female, or intersex. 

Cisgender, or simply cis, refers to people who identify with the gender assigned to them at birth. Cis comes from the Latin prefix which means “on this side of.” 

This concept, according to Birgit Rommelspacher, assumes that there is a system of hierarchies, rule and power in which the various racist, sexist, classist, and other forms of governance intertwine. In this interconnectedness, a dominant group maintains power, which is socially negotiated again and again. In a given society, the dominant group achieves their role by being perceived as pertaining to a majority of the population and having a significant presence in societal institutions. 

The prison-industrial complex (PIC) is a term that describes the complex and interrelated dependencies between a government and the various businesses and institutions that benefit from practices of incarceration (such as prisons, jails, detention facilities, and psychiatric hospitals). Based on the term “military-industrial complex,” PIC urges a more comprehensive analysis of how imprisonment is used in a society, noting all the interest groups that prioritize financial gain over keeping people out of prisons. 

Gender-expansive is an adjective that can describe someone with a more flexible and fluid gender identity than might be associated with the typical gender binary. 

Gender is often defined as a social construct of norms, behaviors, and roles that vary between societies and over time. Gender is often categorized as male, female, or nonbinary. 

Gender transition is a process a person might take to bring themselves and/or their bodies into alignment with their gender identity. This process is not a singular step nor does it have a definite end. Rather, it can include any, none, or all of the following: telling one’s family and social circles; changing one’s name and pronouns; updating legal documents; medical interventions such as hormone therapy; or surgical intervention, often called gender confirmation surgery. 

Gender expression is how a person presents gender outwardly, most typically signalled through clothing, voice, behavior, and other perceived characteristics. Society identifies these cues and performances as masculine or feminine, although what is considered masculine or feminine varies over time and between cultures.  

Gender dysphoria refers to psychological distress that results from the incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and one’s gender identity. People of all genders may experience dysphoria at varying levels of intensity, or not at all. 

Gender identity is one’s own internal sense of self and their gender. Unlike gender expression, gender identity is not externally visible to others. 

Heteronormativity is the concept that heterosexuality—romantic and/or sexual attraction between people of the “opposite” gender—is the normative or acceptable sexual orientation in a society. Heteronormativity assumes the gender binary, and therefore involves a belief in the alignment between sexuality, gender identity, gender roles, and biological sex. As a dominant social norm, heteronormativity results in discrimination and oppression against those who do not identify as heterosexual.   

Hormone therapy, sometimes called gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) or hormone replacement therapy (HRT), is the process by which sex hormones or other hormonal medications are administered. These hormone changes can trigger physical changes, called secondary sex characteristics, that can help better align the body with a person’s gender identity.

Institutional discrimination refers to prejudiced organizational policies and practices within institutions – such as universities, workplaces, and more – such that an individual or groups of individuals who are marginalized are unequally considered and have unequal rights. 

Inter*, or intersex, is an umbrella term that can describe people who have differences in reproductive anatomy, chromosomes, or hormones that do not fit typical definitions of male and female. The asterisks (*) emphasizes the plurality of intersex realities and physicalities. 

Intergenerational trauma refers to the trauma that is passed from a trauma survivor to their descendent. Due to violent and terrifying events—such as war, ethnic cleansing, political conflict, environmental catastrophe, and more—experienced by previous generations, descendants may experience adverse emotional, physical, and psychological effects. As the original sources of trauma are structured by forms of discrimination such as race and gender, intergenerational trauma also occurs along intersectional axes of oppression. For example, Black communities have brought to light the intergenerational trauma of enslavement. 
Intergenerational trauma is sometimes called historical trauma, multi- or transgenerational trauma, or secondary traumatization. 

Intersectionality names the interconnected nature of systems of oppression and social categorizations such as race, gender, sexuality, migratory background, and class. Intersectionality emphasizes how individual forms of discrimination do not exist independently of each other, nor can they be considered and addressed independently. Rather, addressing oppression should take into account the cumulative and interconnected axes of multiple forms of discrimination. 

Islamophobia is a belief system based on hatred/hostility towards or discrimination against Muslim people as a religious or racial group, muslim institutions or anyone/anything that is perceived Muslim. Islamophobia varies over time and between cultures, with Islamophobia intensifying in different historical moments.

Classism is a term that describes discrimination based on the belief that a person’s social or economic status determines their value in society. Classism, as a form of discrimination and stigmatization, is based on actual or assumed financial means, educational status, and social inclusion. “Inferior” classes in the hierarchy are problematised and stereotyped, and often receive unequal access and rights within society. 

Colonialism is the control and dominance of one power over a dependent area or people. In subjugating another people and land, colonialism entails violently conquering the population, often including mass displacement of people and the systematic exploitation of resources. Beyond material consequences, colonialism also includes processes of forcing the dominant power’s language and cultural values upon the subjugated people, thereby effecting cultural, psychological, and intergenerational trauma. 

Culturally argued racism is directed against people based on their presumed cultural or religious background. This form of discrimination can occur regardless of whether they actually practice one culture or religion and how religious they are (e.g. anti-Muslim racism and anti-Semitism). 

Cultural appropriation is the act of taking on aspects of a marginalized culture by a person or an institution who is outside of that culture, without comprehensive understanding of the context and often lacking respect for the significance of the original. Cultural appropriation, when promoting negative cultural or racial stereotypes, reproduces harm. Acts of cultural appropriation can often reveal power dynamics within a society: for example, a white person who wears a marginalized culture’s traditional dress is praised as fashionable, while a racialized person could be isolated from the dominant group and marked as foreign.  

Marginalization describes any process of displacing minorities to the social fringe. As a rule, marginalised groups are presumed to not correspond to the norm-oriented majority of society and are severely restricted in their ability to behave freely, have equal material access, enjoy public safety, and more.  

Microaggression names individual comments or actions that unconsciously or consciously demonstrate prejudice and enact discrimination against members of marginalized groups. As small, common, and cumulative occurrences, microaggressions can comprise of insults, stereotypes, devaluation, and/or exclusion. Microaggressions often negatively affect the person on the receiving end, affecting their psychological and physical health and wellbeing. 

Misogyny is a term for sexist oppression and contempt for women that is used to keep women at a lower social status than men, thereby maintaining patriarchal social roles. Misogyny can indicate an attitude held by individuals and a widespread cultural system that often devalues anything perceived as feminine. Misogyny can overlap with other instances of oppression and hate—such as homophobia, trans*-misogyny, and racism. 

Neurodiversity is a term that describes the unique ways each person’s brain structures function. The basic assumption of what kind of brain functioning is healthy and acceptable within a norm-oriented majority society is called neurotypical. 

Nonbinary is a term that can be used by persons who do not describe themselves or their genders as fitting into the binary categories of man or woman. A range of terms are used for these experiences, with nonbinary and genderqueer often used. 

Patriarchy is a social system whereby cis men dominantly hold positions of privilege both in public and private spheres. In feminist theory, patriarchy can be used to describe the power relationship between genders that favors male dominance, as well as the ideology of male superiority that justifies and enacts oppression against women and all non-normative genders. 

Pronouns, or personal gender pronouns (PGPs), are the set of pronouns that an individual uses to refer to themselves and desires for others to use when referring to them. The list of pronouns is continuously evolving. An individual may have several sets of preferred pronouns, or none. The intention of both asking and using a person’s pronouns correctly is to reduce the negative societal effects for those whose personal pronouns don’t match with the gender identity that’s assumed by a cisnormative society. Using gender-neutral wording and terms to refer to groups of people (such as “folks,” instead of “guys”) are also inclusive steps that resist the gender binary and cis-normativity. 

Racism is the process by which systems, policies, actions, and attitudes create unequal opportunities and outcomes for people based on race. More than individual or institutional prejudice, racism occurs when this discrimination is accompanied by the power to limit or oppress the rights of people and/or groups. Racism varies over time and between cultures, with racism towards different groups intensifying in different historical moments.   

Sex-gender difference names the distinction between the concept of “sex” as a biological fact and the concept of “gender” as a product of cultural and social processes, such as socially constructed roles, behaviours, expressions and gendered identities.

Sexism is the process by which systems, policies, actions, and attitudes create unequal opportunities and outcomes for people based on their attributed or supposed sex and the ideology underlying these phenomena. It is mostly used to name the power relations between dominant and marginalised genders within cisheteronormative patriarchal societies.

Sexual orientation is the term that describes which sex or gender a person feels emotionally, physically, romantically and/or sexually attracted to.

Social origin describes the socio-cultural values and norms into which one is born, including factors such as environment, class, caste, education biography, and more. The values that accompany one’s social origin are constructed, but often have material impact that privileges or under-privileges certain groups and people. For example, someone whose social origin includes living in a Western country, inheriting intergenerational wealth, and having a consistently good education will increase their chances for a high-paying job as an adult. Their social origin must therefore be taken into account, rather than their inherent worthiness for such a job. 

A social norm is a shared belief in the standard of acceptable behaviour by groups, both informal as well as institutionalized into policy or law. Social norms differ over time and between cultures and societies. 

Socioeconomic status, usually described as low, medium, or high, is a way of describing people based on their education, income, and type of job. The values and norms assigned to each socioeconomic class are socially constructed but have material impact. 

Structural discrimination refers to patterns of behaviour, policies, and attitudes found at the macro-level conditions of society. This discrimination of social groups is based on the nature of the structure of society as a whole. Structural discrimination is distinct from individual forms of discrimination (such as a single racist remark, which is a microaggression), though it often provides the contextual framework to understand why these individual instances occur. 

Tokenism is a superficial or symbolic gesture that includes minority members without significantly changing or addressing the structural discrimination of marginalization. Tokenism is a strategy intended to create the appearance of inclusion and to divert allegations of discrimination by requiring a single person to be representative of a minority. 

White supremacy names the beliefs and practices that privilege white people as an inherently superior race, built on the exclusion and detriment of other racial and ethnic groups. It can refer to the interconnected social, economic, and political systems that enable white people to enjoy structural advantages over other racial groups both on a collective and individual level. It can also refer to the underlying political ideology that imposes and maintains multiple forms of domination by white people and non-white supporters, from justifying European colonialism to present-day neo-fascisms. 

Whiteness is a socially and politically constructed behaviour that perpetuates an ideology, culture, history, and economy that results in the unequal distribution of power and privilege favoring those socially deemed white. The material benefits of whiteness are gained at the expense of Black, Indigenous, and people of color, who are systematically denied equal access to those material benefits. 
On our blog, white is often written in small italics to mark it as a political category and emphasize the privileges of whiteness which are often not named as such, but rather taken for granted as the invisible norm. 

Xenophobia names the hostility towards groups or individuals perceived as “outsiders” based on their culture. Xenophobic attitudes are often associated with hostile reception of immigrants or refugees who arrive in societies and communities that are not their homelands. Xenophobic discrimination can result in barriers to equally access socioeconomic opportunities, as well as ethnic, racial, or religious prejudice.

Abolition is a term that names officially ending a system, practice, or institution. Rooted in 19th century movements to abolish slavery, present day abolitionism is often invoked to end the practice of policing and military and/or the interconnected carceral systems of prisons, refugee camps, detention centers, and more. For more, see the definition of prison-industrial complex). 

Accountability is the obligation and willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions. In the context of social justice, accountability refers to the ways in which individuals and communities hold themselves to their principles and goals, as well as acknowledging the groups to which they are responsible. Accountability often requires a transparent process and continuous self- and collective awareness. 

Ageism is discrimination or prejudice based on a person’s age, such as when skills and abilities are questioned and assessed based on one’s older or younger age. 

Agender is an adjective that can be used by persons who do not identify as any gender.

BIPoC stands for Black, Indigenous and people of color. A term that originated in the U.S., it is a self-designation intended to center the specific experiences of Black, Indigenous, and other racialized groups, who are severely impacted by systemic racial injustice rooted in histories of enslavement and colonialism, and to unite people and groups affected by racism. 

Colorism is a term that describes the prejudice or discrimination favoring people with lighter skin tones over those with darker skin tones. This is especially used to describe the nuanced discrimination faced within a racial or ethnic group. 

The Critical Diversity Policy at UdK is a document whose intention is to emphasize and enforce the idea that differences in values, attitudes, cultural perspective, beliefs, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientation, gender identity, abilities, knowledge and life experiences of each individual in each group of people should be considered and overcome within the university.

Deadnaming is the act of calling a trans*, nonbinary, or gender-expansive person by their birth name, or an incorrect name, when they have changed their name as part of their gender expression. It is never okay or necessary to use a person’s deadname when they have changed their name, including when describing past events. If you deadname someone, take accountability by apologizing and commit to not doing so in the future. Take steps to know someone’s current name and commit to using it.   

This sociological term focuses on how people observe, (re-)produce, and make gender relevant in everyday life. Rather than taking gender as an innate quality, the acts of “doing gender” emphasize how gender is a social construct that is prevalent in daily human interaction. 

Misogynoir is a term, coined by Black feminist Moya Bailey in 2010, that describes the gendered and racial oppression faced by Black cis and transgender women (the latter sometimes referred to as trans*-misogynoir). Taking an intersectional lens, misogynoir examines how anti-Black racism and misogyny combine into a particular form of oppression and discrimination. 

Queer is an umbrella term for people who are not heterosexual or cisgender. It Is used for a broad spectrum of non-normative sexual and/or gender identities and politics. 

Safer spaces are intended to be places where marginalized communities can gather and communicate shared experiences, free of bias, conflict, or harm perpetrated by members of a dominant group. Recognizing that there is no such thing as a perfectly safe space for marginalized people under the current systems of our society, the term “safer” indicates the goal of temporary relief, as well as acknowledging the fact that harm can be reproduced even within marginalized communities. 
Examples of safer spaces created in organizations and institutions are queer-only spaces and/or spaces only for Black, Indigenous, and people of color. 

Social justice is a form of activism and political movement that promotes the process of transforming society from an injust and unequal state to one that is just and equitable. Social justice is rooted in the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political, and social rights and opportunities, and the fundamental right to feel psychologically and physically secure. Social justice therefore aims to change governing laws and societal norms that have historically and presently oppressed some groups over others. Social justice is not just the absence of discrimination, but also the presence of deliberate systems and supports that achieve and sustain equity along lines of race, gender, class, ability, religion, and more. 

Transgender, or simply trans*, is an adjective that refers to people whose gender identity is different than the sex assigned at birth. Trans comes from the Latin prefix which means “across” or “beyond.” The self-designation is not an identity feature that automatically indicates whether this person identifies with a different gender, no gender or multiple genders. Thus, there are several trans* identities. The asterisks (*) emphasizes the plurality and fluidity of trans identities.