6 Questions for Event Organizers
Transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people are a growing population that we can no longer ignore and erase. However, inviting us into your spaces and events before you have prepared for our arrival is a recipe for disaster. With a sharp rise in conversations about and efforts towards gender inclusivity, we must take action responsibly in order to avoid the pitfalls of virtue signaling, performative activism, and unintentional harm.
First of all, an invitation is NOT inclusivity. Inclusivity requires a serious commitment and investment of time and resources in order to ensure that you and your current group and leadership team members are learning about the identities you seek to include, as well as making tangible leadership and structural event changes that will likely be foreign and uncomfortable for some. This goes way beyond asking for pronouns.
Understand that when you invite us into a space or event, we are not a monolith. Even when broken down into sub-groups, like trans women, trans men, and non-binary people, you must understand that there is a vast diversity in what these terms and identities mean, how they express themselves, and how they overlap. Cis-patriarchy, and even feminism, has taught us that gender identity and gendered experiences exist in separate and opposite categories, but this is rarely the case for transgender people.
Learning about transgender people is an ongoing, never ending effort as we continue to push the boundaries of gender, and develop new language and theory every day. The questions below are a free resource to help you better pinpoint your own knowledge and capacity. It's always best, however, to hire a consultant that can guide you through this process, and make you aware of the aspects you have not yet considered.
It’s okay if you’re not ready, or if you do not have the knowledge or resources yet, to include transgender and non-binary people at your event or space. Be transparent about this. Don't try to sound "woke." Marginalized cisgender people, like cisgender women or cisgender people of color, need their own spaces, too. There are a number of different gendered spaces needed and necessary for our individual and collective healing, joy, learning, and liberation.
Share these questions with your group and/or leadership team at your next meeting. There are no right or wrong answers. They are simply meant to encourage more intentional reflection, and highlight areas that may need additional thought before inviting others with different gender identities than our own.
1. What is the overall goal or purpose of this event or space?
2. What gendered language are you currently using to describe this event/space?
3. Are trans women and/or trans femmes welcome? Consider:
Do you have expectations for how they should look, speak, or behave?
What actions are being taken to invite, include, and accommodate them?
Have you gotten feedback from them about these actions?
Are your current group members trained and safe to be around?
4. Are non-binary people welcome? Consider:
The same considerations listed above.
Does this include people Assigned Male At Birth (AMAB) and/or people Assigned Female At Birth (AFAB)?
If not, or if only some non-binary people and not others, why?
5. Are trans men and/or trans masculine people welcome? Consider:
The same considerations listed above.
Have you reflected on your relationship with masculinity and traumas from patriarchy?
6. Who is going to be centered at this event or in this space? Consider:
Does this align with the overall goal and purpose of the space?
Does this align with your social and political frameworks?
How is this being discussed and communicated to all involved and invited?