Hi there! I’m Serena.

I’m a writer, workshop facilitator and writing consultant, currently working with the Anti-Violence Project, the sexual assault centre of the University of Victoria. I hold a B.A. in Writing from that university as well, and I’ve previously worked for law firms, magazines, and the provincial government of British Columbia in several capacities. My writing has been published in Plenitude Magazine, This Side of West, NonBinary Review, and a few other places. I have a short story in the print collection Nameless Woman: An Anthology of Fiction by Trans Women of Color, and I recently collaborated with Nora Samaran on a chapter of her book, Turn This World Inside Out: The Emergence of Nurturance Culture. I also serve on the editorial boards of Room and The Malahat Review, and mentor youth through the Trans Tipping Point Project.

Image of Serena Lukas Bhandar, a smiling woman with brown hair and blonde highlights, wearing a tan dress, standing in a library.

I’m also a queer, genderfluid trans woman & a Punjabi Sikh, Welsh, and Irish settler living on unsurrendered Lekwungen and WSÁNEĆ territories.

Whew, that’s a mouthful. Let’s unpack what some of those words mean to me.

  • “Queer,” to me, means that my romantic and sexual attractions fall outside of the norms set by Western society (i.e. straight/heterosexuality), and do not easily map to the labels “gay” or “lesbian.” “Queer” is still used today by some as a slur against people like me. I acknowledge that, and I also know that by using the word in a positive context, I work to reclaim it from a context of hatred and ignorance. I also prefer “queer” instead of a term like “bisexual” because the former connotes a multitude of genders beyond the binary of man and woman. Which brings me to the next word.
  • “Genderfluid” is a term that reflects my view that my gender is dynamic and unfixed, that it changes and transforms over the course of one’s life. Gender fluidity, or its cross-cultural analogues, is strongly upheld in non-Western cultures. The third gender, known sometimes as Hijra, is well supported by both the cultures and the governments of the Indian subcontinent. Similarly, Two-Spirit individuals are upheld in Indigenous communities across the colonized continent of North America.
  • At the same time as I include “genderfluid” in my personal description, I also strongly identify as a trans woman, someone who was labelled male at birth but whose gender and self-actualization reflect a far more feminine context. I go into much, much more detail on my gender identity in my blog post Hello World, Redux. Please check it out for more detailed information on my gender identity.
  • Hopefully the terms of my ancestry should be self-explanatory—Sikh refers to a religious and cultural group of people that originated in the Punjab region of northwestern India and central Pakistan. The other parts of my ancestry can be traced back more vaguely to Wales and a few other small regions of the British Isles.
  • When I say I am a “settler,” I acknowledge that people were already living here in North America when European colonization began, and that my presence on these lands actively contributes to the displacement of those peoples. I specifically live on the territories of the Lekwungen and WSÁNEĆ peoples.

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