This week is Transgender Awareness Week. Last week we posted on Facebook in support of Doula UK and Nanny Kimbo in response to the transphobic attacks they have received. They spoke out in favour of inclusivity, and have been attacked because of it.
The response, both positive and negative has led to a lot of discussions behind the scenes. Conversations about what it means to run our businesses inclusively. We have talked to other businesses encouraging them to stand for inclusivity and to formulate inclusivity statements. Conversations with individuals who get in touch to thank us for being welcoming and inclusive to them. Discussions about our own experiences and identities, when we have felt welcome and how we can be more welcoming.
I find awareness weeks tricky to engage in well as a business. Sometimes it can be helpful to make a noise and focus attention and say “this issue exists and you can do something about it”. Sometimes however, the focal point is a group of people. When people are contesting the identity of a group; a group that is already a target of hatred and violence; how can we raise awareness without potentially making the situation more dangerous for those we want to support?
I don’t want to create a tokenistic gesture, I don’t want to simply highlight the existence of trans people. I don’t want to feed the obsessive ‘othering’ the ridiculous reporting of gender neutral biscuit people as though policing bakery items is the aim of a marginalised community who frequently face hatred and violence in their day to day lives. This nonsense perpetuates hatred and stereotypes, raise moral panic against a minority group and potentially reduces the safety of trans people.
Awareness isn’t enough
So, we didn’t just want to post something token. In June I attended Mars Lord’s talk at The Wrap Show. That challenged me to face up to the prejudice and racism in the babywearing community and industry. Since then we have been considering our next steps at improving our inclusivity.
We want the service we provide to be accessible to and inclusive of all people. All parents and carers. We want you to be in no doubt that you will be accepted and welcomed by us in whatever capacity you come to us. This has been our vision since we took over It’s A Sling Thing. This is something we reflect in our branding – celebrating diversity in identity and experience.
We get people thanking us for representing them in our branding when they often don’t see themselves depicted. That makes us very happy. But it isn’t enough. Images can be powerful but some identities are harder to depict than others. A picture doesn’t tell you how you can expect to be treated.
It is heartwarming that people get in touch with us to tell us they feel accepted, welcomed, supported and empowered by our services, but what of those who don’t get in touch? What of those who choose not to use us because they aren’t sure they will be welcomed? We don’t know who doesn’t feel welcomed.
So, this week, partly because it is Transgender Awareness Week and partly because issues around transphobia, heteronormativity and race are so in focus in the birth and parenting world, we are writing the first version of our inclusivity policy. I say first version because it won’t be perfect. It will always be a work in progress. It will be our ongoing commitment to include, to welcome and to improve. We will welcome your input and your feedback.
This Transgender Awareness Week we are seeking to be explicitly inclusive of trans people, of diverse families, and of the incredibly rich diversity that makes up our world. And I include other identities here because an awareness week won’t fix the issue and because a focus solely on transgender inclusivity, whilst better than nothing, isn’t a systemic enough change.
We also have a bursaried training position and a diversity discount designed to widen our accessibility and diversity as an organisation.
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