Netroots Nation gets the first step of trans inclusion right

This is an important year for transgender issues at Netroots Nation. The conference is hosting its first trans-focused panel (featuring me!), and I’ve seen a half dozen out trans folks here, which is a big step forward in representation when you realize Autumn Sandeen was the only out trans person at the conference in 2008.

Most people, even in progressiveville, haven’t thought about how to be inclusive of and respectful towards trans folks until they’re confronted with the issue directly. To make the space accountable to trans folks, a conference like Netroots needs to be explicit and proactive.

Which is why I’m super jazzed that there’s a “Transgender Etiquette” section in the conference program this year. Even better – it’s on the page of maps, where it’s pretty impossible to miss. Even more better – the statement’s actually good.

The Task Force worked with Netroots to get this statement, which is clearly based on the one from the organization’s conference Creating Change, in the program. Thanks to the Task Force and Netroots for taking this important step to make the conference space inclusive.

Maps and Transgender Etiquette statement from the Netroots Nation conference program

Photo via the Task Force twitters.

There are many transgender people at Netroots Nation. To be inclusive, please keep in mind the following:

Please do not assume anyone’s gender, even people you may have met in the past. A person’s external appearance may not match their internal gender identity. Pay attention to a person’s purposeful gender expression. It’s polite to ask: “What pronoun do you prefer?” or “How do you identify?” before using pronouns or gendered words. Or better yet, ask for their name.

One way of acknowledging transgender people’s needs is to designate restrooms as gender neutral. In bathrooms, many transgender people face harassment, so please let everyone pee in peace.

We have designated some bathrooms in the Convention Center as “gender neutral.” Anyone is welcome to use them, and they are heavily signed. These restrooms are the fifth floor, outside ballrooms C and E.

Please listen to transgender people’s needs and stories when they are volunteered; yet please respect people’s privacy and boundaries and do not ask unnecessary questions.

Then please join the many hardworking allies who are working to respond appropriately to transphobic situations. Respectful allies who learn from and with transgender people and then educate others are important for successful transgender liberation. Thank you for your help and have a great conference!

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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