22 October 2020
We sat down with Kat Reed, a passionate queer rights activist, avid intersectional feminist, and political performance artist based in Canberra. Since beginning with environmental activism in school, they have advocated for the rights of people of colour, queer youth and people with disabilities. Kat has made appearances on ABC Radio, Canberra Times and Win News speaking about survivor rights and sex education.
Kat’s leadership experience is diverse – they’ve held positions of leadership in both local and national organisations including the ANU Ethnocultural Committee, the ANU Students’ Association and led the Australian Queer Students’ Network as the National Co-convenor.
Kat will speak on our panel at She Leads High Conference 2020, a leadership conference for girls, including female-identifying and nonbinary people, in years 9 and 10. The conference will take place at Kambri, Australian National University, on 30 October.
We took five minutes with Kat. Here’s what we learned.
1.Describe yourself in 30 words or less.
Passionate, fierce queer advocate by day, ex-goth DJing Drag artist by night.
2. Tell us about a moment in your life that defined your leadership style.
When I was 19, I was elected to lead the ANU Queer Collective. The Collective where a new experience for me; they used radical decision-making philosophies and strongly believed that the collective was more important than the individual when it came to change. I learnt consensus decision-making techniques and the importance of being accountable to a group that you represent.
Since then, I’ve incorporated collective decision making wherever possible. I see myself as a facilitator, helping others to feel confident in their voice. I’m aware of the power my voice has in dominating the discussion.
3.What’s the question you are most tired of hearing on women’s leadership, and what would you like to say about it, so you never have to answer it again?
What is intersectionality / how do you navigate intersectionality? This is quite a frustrating one for me to hear! While I’m all for introducing new people to the idea, personally, I find it quite frustrating that intersectionality is still not as well understood as it should be.
Intersectionality is a useful term that describes a different set of experiences a person might have due to having two or more axis of oppression. For example, a queer person of colour may have a different experience of oppression than someone who is queer and Caucasian due to the intersection of those two identities.
For me personally, intersectionality isn’t a choice; it’s not something I can chose to slip in and out of depending on the issue or who I’m advocating for. I am a queer, person of colour with a disability and I am all of those things, all the time. I can’t separate which parts of my experience are due to being a person of colour or a queer person as easily. I must be intersectional in my feminist constantly, and it’s frustrating to hear it being treated like an “optional add-on” to feminism.
4.What were you like as a 16-year-old? Would you give her any advice? If so, what?
I was very passionate! I had just found my “voice” (I was very shy and quiet before) and learning about social justice and how I could contribute to was exciting and invigorating to me. I had no idea where it would take me or that it would continue to be a passion of mine eight years on, but I knew I wanted to pursue this passion after school.
The advice I’d have given to myself would be to slow down; rushing will lead you to burn out times and the things that you want to achieve may take some time to happen. Take your time building your ideas, bring others on to help you as much as possible, and priorities your health and long-term goals!
5.What is something that has been challenging you lately?
Balancing my energy, health and all the projects I want to be working!
If you know or are a student in year 9 and 10 who would like to learn more about Kat, be sure to join us at She Leads High on 30 October!
To register, visit our ticketing page.