On the eve of Trans Visibility Day, March 30, 2022, queer Barnumbia students and allies crowded together for the much anticipated campus party, GenderFuck. Hosted in Columbia’s Lerner Roone Auditorium as a collaboration between the Columbia Queer Alliance (CQA) and GendeRevolution, the event pulled an impressive number of partygoers with promotionals pinned across campus and on Instagram: “a clothing optional-party with drag queens and good company.”
“I think it’s a really great experience to be able to have access to something like this in an on-campus, safe environment,” says Celia Ziliak BC ‘24 (they/them) “The clothing-optional part of it was a fun way to express gender non-conformity. It was a refreshing celebration given so many political attacks against trans people lately.”
Founded by alumna Miranda Elliot CC ‘10 (she/her) while she was serving as co-chair of Queer Alliance Month and president of the newly formed GendeRevolution, GenderFuck was pitched after Elliot noticed a lack of transgender community programming. GenderFuck’s first installment occurred in 2008.
GenderFuck’s mission statement emphasizes community support. “We are a trans, queer, body-positive underwear party, embracing all gender identities and expressions,” the organizers of GenderFuck write on their Eventbrite invitation. “We welcome the presence of allies. In this space, we aim to hold ourselves and others accountable to minimizing demeaning, disrespectful, or hateful behavior, especially on the basis of gender identity, gender presentation, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, religion, body image, size, ability, and any other identities.”
According to leaders of GendeRevolution, this year’s GenderFuck coordinators had the opportunity to revamp tradition. “Everyone who had coordinated GenderFuck in the past is no longer at Columbia, so almost all institutional knowledge was lost surrounding it. It really was a matter of piecing together lore from a few seniors who attended GenderFuck their freshman year in 2019 and also revamping it with ideas that board members wanted to implement.”
GenderFuck’s sweaty but blissful crowd seemed to especially enjoy appearances made by drag queens, Sage Daytona and LA Prince/ss, who engaged the audience with crowd work, pulling a selected few onto the stage with them in addition to their performances. “I would say that this year was better since the drag queens broke the ice so easily with what can be an awkward space,” says Wes Gee BC’ 23 (them/them). “Two years ago wasn’t awkward for me since I’ve been openly queer for a while, but for some of my friends GenderFuck was a little awkward for the first twenty minutes or so. So, having the drag queens this year was a great way to make everyone feel happy and comfortable in the space.”
According to the Columbia Queer Alliance, the Columbia administration was supportive of the GenderFuck event. “Coordinating with Columbia admin was surprisingly easy,” they stated. “Event review went off without a hitch. All the admin was present at the meeting and seemed to support all the moving parts with just a few clarifying questions. No pushback. We faced no challenges on the clothing-optional end.”
The presence of GenderFuck at Columbia is a celebration of queer and trans endurance amidst ongoing hatred and dehumanization. GenderFuck is an acknowledgment that trans bodies exist and will continue to do so.