Safe Space Guide

Trans* in the City strives to promote an inclusive, safe, and secure space for all trans*-identified, binary and non-binary, people in the Charlotte area.

We will provide referrals and resources, conflict mediation, peer counseling, responses to physical and emotional safety concerns, language inclusivity, and promoting egalitarian identity affirmation. There are many ways to foster safe spaces. You can help make this space safe, by adhering to the following points.

Be Self Aware

We ask that participants be aware of their surroundings and of how much emotional and physical space they are using while navigating spaces; do you need three chairs for you and your belongings or will just one do? Keep an eye on how much you are speaking; whether it is in a workshop or a casual conversation. Sometimes our excitement to talk about ourselves can make another person feel quieted. Could the volume of your conversation possibly hindering that of the people beside you? If we all practice self awareness, we can be sure to enjoy one another’s company and make enough space for everyone!

Cultural Competency and Accountability

Trans* in the City is dedicated to empowering every facet within the complex web of identities, experiences, and expressions that create our diverse community including differences in race, religion, ability, size, ethnicity, mental and physical health, education level, sexual orientation, and class . We ask that participants recognize and respect differences and diversity within and outside of the trans* community.  We ask that participants be conscious of their own experiences and areas of privilege when they speak, as well as when they consider the experiences of others. It is also important to be aware of cultural appropriation and to not use an oppressed culture’s significant symbols, values, and language as your own. Please be open to participating in constructive dialogues with people whose experiences or perspectives may differ than your own. In addition, it is important, We ask that participants be respectful when challenging perspectives and work to create an experience that is both affirming and accountable. We understand that if you meet someone who has an identity or experience with which you are not familiar, you may have a lot of questions. Sometimes people are willing to discuss their identities or experiences, but sometimes such questions can make a person feel isolated, weird, or tokenized. We ask participants to make an effort to self educate whenever possible. This may mean that you hold on to your question until you can find a resource such as a book or the Internet. Participants may also find resources for self-education by talking to Trans* in the City leaders.

Gender Diversity

We recognize that trans* folk come in many types of gender identities and expressions. We ask that participants not assume someone’s gender identity based on their outward appearance or behavior. Since a person’s gender identity can not be identified by how they look or act, the best way to be sure of using the correct language is to politely ask, “What is your preferred pronoun?” If you are unable to ask, or feel it may not be a safe space to ask, it is best to refrain from using gendered language by using words like “that person” and all-gender pronouns such as “they.”

Inclusive Language

Trans* in the City strives to create inclusive, attentive spaces and programming for all attendees. We ask that participants be mindful of their language when referring to, or talking with, other participants. This includes respecting a person’s chosen language for themselves (such as identity descriptors, community language, or pronouns) and avoiding exclusionary or assumption based language.  As no one person or experience can represent an entire community, we encourage participants to use “I” statements when sharing thoughts and feelings as well as to be cautious of generalizations. Please be careful not to assume who is in the room, or who is attending the conference or event. If you need to reference identities or communities that are different from yours but you are not sure what language to use, it is ok to say, “I am not sure what the right word to use is…” Your fellow participants will surely be able to open a supportive, educational dialogue with you.

Language

We understand the value of reclaiming slurs for the empowerment of historically oppressed groups. However, if a word does not target your identity or has not been used specifically against a group with which you identify, you should not use it. It is important to note, for this space, that the word “tr@**y” is a slur specifically targeted at trans women.

Photographs

Don’t take photos in crowded communal spaces; ask permission before you take a photo, and be sure to ask permission before tagging a person’s image or name online. If you would like to post an inspirational quote or experience online, be sure to check with those involved first.

Triggering Elements

Some content or topics, such as those related to violence, accounts of aggression, and/or prejudicial language, and certain types of touching or movements may upset or distress certain  participants. It is also important to realize that, just because something offends you, it doesn’t mean it is a trigger. When in writing, it is important to state that the topic could be triggering. This is usually illustrated with “Trigger warning: [topic]” (example: “Trigger warning: sexual assault”). Before speaking or acting, please be sure to consider whether your stories or motions may contain any of these elements, and if they do, let those around you know before you begin your story. This way we can empower your self expression and enable your access to support while also providing a safer space for people who may need to care for themselves.

Promoting Accessibility

Hearing Accessibility

When you are participating in events, do your best to speak clearly and audibly so that all may hear you and be willing to repeat yourself if asked. Do not have side conversations during speakers and workshops, as it may also influence a person’s ability to hear or focus their attention.

Gender-Based Accessibility and Restrooms

We ask that all participants practice friendly bathroom etiquette where all people are welcome, without question, in any restroom of their choice regardless of gender presentation or appearance. We will be working with the LGBT Center of Charlotte to provide gender-neutral restrooms and to promote the understanding that if a person is using a particular restroom or space, they have chosen it for the sole reason that is the correct (or closest to correct) one for them and therefore have a right to use it in safety and comfort.

Scent Aware Policy

Trans* in the City strives to create a comfortable and accessible space. In keeping with this goal, our stance is that the space be a scent-aware environment where participants are conscious of the fragrances they are wearing. We ask that all participants refrain from wearing fragrances in the space other than what comes with your general hygiene products, and we still ask that you be aware with the fragrances in those. We created this policy, because we know several people in our community experience Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. (For a further explanation of this policy and ideas, please read this great blog post.)

Call-Out Policy

In the incident that someone says or does something against the above guidelines or something that personally offends you, we encourage you to address that in a respectful manner. However, we also acknowledge that your anger is valid and we will affirm your feelings. It is the responsibility of the offending party to acknowledge their mistakes and apologize.

(This guide was adapted from The Femme Conference’s guide to fit Trans* in the City’s needs and purpose)

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