Two-Spirit, Trans, and Intersex Policy
To continue the commitment to trans inclusion over the years, this policy serves to formally document The Vancouver Dyke March and Festival Society’s commitment to trans inclusion and anti-oppression politics and strives to to include Two-Spirit, trans, and intersex persons.
The aims are:
- To create a safe space for Two-Spirit, trans, and intersex persons at VDM events
- To understand and actively dismantle the common barriers as identified by Two-Spirit, trans, and intersex persons.
- To contribute to a culture of inclusivity and welcome for Two-Spirit, trans, and intersex persons and repudiate the efforts of a small minority that wish to exclude Two-Spirit, trans, and intersex persons from VDM events.
The creation of the this policy at VDM is part of a larger history of struggle and survival within Two-Spirit, trans, and intersex communities. In 2015, the board was approached by potential donor organizations who were hesitant to work with us because they believed the organization was not fully inclusive. Trans people also shared similar concerns about volunteering and participating at our events.
A) NON-DISCRIMINATION AND INCLUSION POLICY – SCOPE:
This policy reflects VDM’s commitment to anti-oppression practices in relation to all Two-Spirit, trans, and intersex persons and ensures that their rights are respected and protected. VDM will actively work to promote a climate that is welcoming, inclusive, and accessible to Two-Spirit, trans, and intersex persons. Any conduct that fosters a hostile environment for Two-Spirit, trans, and intersex persons, whether from VDM board members, organizers, volunteers, service-users, visitors, staff, volunteers, or members of VDM, will not be tolerated. VDM will include Two-Spirit, trans and intersex persons as members in all areas of VDM and as service-users.
VDM recognizes the limitations of defining identity. The following definitions are meant to include, not exclude anyone from this policy, and to make visible the diversity of identities that exist. VDM celebrates and centres the experiences of all those whose gender identity or expression intersects with their sexual orientation to further marginalize them within the broader LGBTQIA2S+ community. The purpose of this section is not to impose categorizations on people, but to ensure that all people are protected by this policy. VDM recognizes the importance of an individual’s right to self-identify and self-define.
Every member has the right to choose the pronouns by which they are referred (e.g. he, she, they, ze). Failure to use a person’s pronoun preference is considered discrimination.
The term “Two-Spirit” originates from the First Nations recognition of the traditions and sacredness of people who maintain a balance by housing both the male and female spirit. Today, Two-Spirit people can be Native people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, other gendered, third/fourth gendered individuals that walk carefully between the worlds and between the genders. The intent of the policy is to be adaptable to cultural specificities, including diverse practices, languages, and histories.
For the purposes of this document, “trans” shall be used in the widest sense possible, including self-identifying trans people, transsexuals, persons of transsexual history/experience, transgender persons, and as an abbreviation of definitions 4-6 below.
Intersex individuals are born with chromosomes, external genitalia, and/or an internal reproductive system that varies from what is considered “standard” for either males or females.
“Transgender” is an umbrella term that includes anyone whose gender identity and/or gender expression does not match society’s expectations of how an individual who was assigned a particular sex at birth should behave in relation to their gender. The term may include, but is not limited to:
- pre-operative, post-operative and non-operative transsexuals who may or may not use hormones;
- intersex individuals;
- persons exhibiting gender characteristics and identities that are perceived to be inconsistent with their gender at birth;
- persons perceived to be androgynous; and
Transsexuals are individuals whose gender expression or identity is perceived to conflict with the sex assigned to them at birth, and who may or may not begin, or continue the process of hormone replacement therapy and/or gender confirmation surgery. Transsexuals are often described as female-to-male (FTM) i.e. Trans Man, or male-to-female (MTF) i.e. Trans Woman.
- Gender Variant, Gender Non-conforming or Gender Different
Gender variant, gender non-conforming, or gender different individuals have a gender identity and/or gender expression that is not confined to the false binary dichotomy of male or female. This includes individuals who do not conform to, or actively reject, expectations of a specific gender role and individuals who express both masculine and feminine qualities. This includes, but is not limited to, genderfuck, genderfluid, and genderqueer identities.
- Gender Identity
Gender identity is an individual’s own understanding of themselves in terms of being male or female, man or woman, or something other or in-between. An individual’s gender identity has nothing to do with their genitalia or chromosomes.
- Gender Expression/Gender Presentation
Gender expression/gender presentation describes the external characteristics and behaviors that are socially defined as either masculine or feminine such as dress, mannerisms, speech patterns and social interactions. It includes people’s behaviours that convey something about their gender identity or that others interpret as meaning something about their gender identity. It is recognized that gender identity and/or gender expression/gender presentation may be fluid and may change over time.
- Cisgender/Cissexual (Cis)
Cis persons are those who experience gender identity and sex as being in alignment with what was assigned at birth.
C) ELIGIBILITY FOR PARTICIPATION IN THE ORGANIZATION:
Candidates for board, volunteer, and other positions at VDM will not be discriminated against on the basis of their Two-Spirit, trans, or intersex status. Furthermore, VDM believes that those who are on the margins are often in better positions to understand how systems of oppression, power and privilege work and are maintained, and thus specifically welcomes the perspective of Two-Spirit, trans, and intersex persons and their contribution to VDM.
No board member or volunteer at VDM shall refuse to work with a Two-Spirit, trans, or intersex person because of their Two-Spirit, trans or intersex status.
The Two-Spirit, trans, or intersex status of any and all members of VDM is considered confidential and private and will not be recorded or disclosed without the express permission of the individual. Two-Spirit, trans, or intersex persons will choose if, when, and to whom to disclose their status.
VDM will initiate and maintain networking strategies to connect with Two-Spirit, trans,and intersex persons and Two-Spirit, trans, and intersex communities and expand their participation in VDM events.
In line with the BC Human Rights case law, VDM will make appropriate bathrooms available to all people. All shared bathrooms will be equipped to provide privacy in a communal setting. At any events held off site, VDM will ensure that appropriate sleeping accommodations and change facilities are provided. VDM will not tolerate the policing of identity in bathrooms, change rooms, sleeping accommodations, and related facilities.
VDM will commit to displaying signage explicitly welcoming Two-Spirit, trans, and intersex persons. VDM would also like to acknowledge and thank the leadership of trans persons who have participated in all areas of VDM over the years.