KATEEDIT: THIS IS ONE OF THE CONSULTANTS REPORTS WE PAID FOR AT BICON 2021
Trans and Non-Binary Access and Inclusion for Bicon
This document details some of the potential access issues for trans and non-binary guests attending Bicon and possible solutions to minimise these issues for the community.
- Toilets – university campuses often have gendered toilets. Bicon should prioritise making all toilets gender-neutral for the purposes of the event. In the event campus staff do not agree to temporary signage change, it should be clearly re-iterated that Bicon attendees can use any toilets they require.
- Changing rooms/ swimming – Where Bicons are providing a swimming session, there should be gender neutral changing rooms, with the option of private cubicles. There should also be accessible cubicles for disabled trans people. For the session itself, there should be understanding and inclusion of different bodies i.e. anyone should be allowed to swim topless, regardless of how their chest looks. (Relaxation of the ‘no nipple policy’ for this specific instance). It is for Bicon to ensure lifeguards/ campus staff are fully educated on this and for attendees not to be put in an uncomfortable situation.
- Accommodation choices – When choosing accommodation, some people may have certain requirements i.e. all female accommodation. When this is requested, it should automatically be assumed that trans people are included ie. Trans women would be included in all female accommodation.
- Mandatory pronouns – Although Bicon is generally good at encouraging pronouns on lanyards, it should be a mandatory requirement. There is often a reluctance from cisgender attendees who feel their pronouns may be ‘obvious’ and this puts additional pressure on trans and non-binary attendees. Pronouns should be mandatory for all adult attendees. Introductions to workshops should also include the facilitator giving their pronouns ie. In go rounds when people introduce themselves. Again, it is not for trans and non-binary attendees to normalise pronoun introductions, it should be the standard. In the event someone is unsure of their pronouns or is indifferent, this can be specified ie “any pronouns” or “just my name”.
- Not assuming people’s identities and pronouns – Bicon does try to encourage neutral language from facilitators and attendees, however this does not always filter through. There could perhaps be a ‘checklist’ to go through with all session holders in advance of their workshops to ensure this is understood and accepted. List should include specific points on avoiding gendered language, pronouns, disability, race etc. to ensure the facilitator is aware of these issues and also feels able to challenge any potential incidents that may occur in their sessions. This would take the onus of correcting people off of trans attendees.
- Access funds – Specific funding ringfenced to help trans/non-binary people attend Bicon, with priority going to those least represented at Bicon ie Trans Women and Transfeminine people, Trans People of Colour/ Black Trans people, Trans Women of Colour etc.
- Trans awareness training – Bicon has worked hard to roll out Anti-Racism training for all White attendees. In a similar vein, it would be worth considering Trans awareness training for all cisgender attendees. Informal training could also be offered to campus staff ie. Security/ bar staff/ shop staff as we have a commitment to making sure all trans and non-binary attendees feel safe at the event i.e. buying food/drinks, if locked out their rooms and needing assistance.
- Clothes swaps – When presenting clothes for people to take, present them by style/size, not gender ie suits, formalwear, party wear, casual, XXL, Size 12 etc. not ‘male’ or ‘female’.
Virtual Bicon considerations
Many trans people are not living in safe accommodation. There are a disproportionate amount of trans people in temporary accommodation, supported housing or in unstable/unsafe housing ie with unaccepting families/ housemates/ abusive partners. Trans people are less likely to be in stable or well-paid employment and are likely to be self-funding medical treatments due to incredibly long waiting lists for gender affirming treatment on the NHS.
This may hinder participation and access to virtual Bicons as they may not be out or may not safely be able to talk/listen to workshops, particularly around gender identity. It may be worth Bicon setting aside some funding to aid digital poverty ie if a trans/non-binary person particularly wanted to attend a workshop but was unable to do so safely from home. This could be one-off payments ie £5-15 mobile phone credit, which could help a trans attendee participate virtually in sessions.