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Queer Intersections: A Panel Discussion

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Queer Intersections: A Panel Discussion

"Honouring and celebrating the many facets of modern queer identities and lived experiences of our community."

Join our diverse and exciting array of LGBTQIA+ panelists as they reflect on their intersectional identities; exploring how this shapes their lives and offering insights into the unique challenges they face and how they overcome adversity in modern Australian society. 

Introduction by Professor Karen Hapgood (she/her), Deputy Vice-Chancellor Swinburne Research. 
Professor Karen Hapgood is an experienced and respected executive leader, with an engineering and STEM background as well as 15 years of leadership experience in the higher education sector. Karen is a renowned researcher in the fields of chemical engineering and pharmaceutical manufacturing and is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. Karen is passionate about diversity and inclusion, especially for Women In STEM in Australia.


Mama Mish (she/her) Panel Host and Facilitator.
As she is affectionately known, Michelle Sheppard, or “Mama Mish”, is a highly respected presenter, advocate, and trainer in the gender equity space. As a transgender woman, she appreciates the difficulties within the grey created by the gender divide and traverses them herself and willingly takes others on the ride with her.
Michelle brings her lived experience of being a trans woman into her work, running diversity, equity, and inclusion training, mentoring colleagues, and providing extra support to anyone transitioning or affirming their gender. Michelle lays out the sobering statistics around violence and discrimination against transgender people, unemployment, financial troubles, and mental health issues but mixes them with anecdotes and funny stories from her life.
She embodies dignity, grace and the change needed to make a positive difference in others’ lives, empowers women and challenges barriers to inclusion, discrimination, and harassment.

James Parr (he/him) Panelist and former Swinburne student.
James Parr is a Melbourne-based Wiradjuri triathlete, model, disability advocate, and writer. As a below-the-knee amputee, James is passionate about sharing his story and lived experiences to champion inclusion and representation for the disabled community within mainstream media and fashion industries. Being queer and a First Nations triathlete, James likes to challenge our notions of femininity and masculinity and regularly appears on the runways of Melbourne Fashion Week and on features in Vogue and GQ Australia. He is currently on the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Group for the board of Triathlon Australia. 

Gemma Chandan (she/her) Panelist and Swinburne staff member.
Gemma Chandan is a senior finance professional who has worked in various industries and multicultural environments. Gemma is a qualified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher and is part of our team of Chaplains at the Multi Faith Centre. Gemma self-identifies as Queer and a Person of Colour. She aspires to create a container of courage and care for all communities nurturing resilient well-being. 

Booker Schwab (he/him) Panelist and Current Swinburne student.
Booker is a current Swinburne student studying Games and Interactivity. He is a trans man and committee member of Gender Agenda. He strives to create a safe and comfortable environment for fellow students to be themselves and express who they are.

Dr Mohammad Taha (they/them) Panelist and STEMM professional
Dr. Taha is a multidisciplinary researcher exploring the frontiers of Materials Science, sustainability, and Electronic Engineering. Beyond their scientific pursuits, Dr. Taha is a staunch advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, working tirelessly to support and empower their fellow members. Their commitment to inclusivity and diversity extends beyond the lab, creating a positive impact on both their academic environment and society as a whole. Dr Taha is a proud member of Queers in Science, a cross-institutional organisation of that aims to build community and improve support for LGBTIQA+ people in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine).

ACCESSIBILITY: The venue for this event has elevator access to Level 3, entry with no steps is via Burwood Rd. This event will also be available online via MS Teams for those who cannot attend in-person, the meeting link will be sent to all registered attendees the day before the event.


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