DISABILITY JUSTICE IS PART OF OUR WORK
As an organization dedicated to social justice issues, we recognize disability justice as a major part of our intersectional work. We strive to keep all Gender Justice League members, volunteers, visitors, and staff safe when we are collaborating and celebrating as a group. While we can only be responsible for our own actions, part of that responsibility is understanding how our personal choices and interactions affect those with access needs. This is an ongoing conversation within Gender Justice League and our wider community.
WHAT ARE ACCESS NEEDS?
Access needs are ways for those living with disabilities and/or sensitivities to safely request accommodations when needed. This can look different for everyone, and you cannot judge somebody’s access needs based on how they look. For example, those with scent sensitivities need to be able to access spaces where people are mindful of the personal scents they use; those with noise sensitivities, trauma, and C-PTSD/PTSD should be able to access a low noise space when the event is too loud; and folks with mobility restrictions need to have spaces that are accessible for them to be on (like elevators, lifts or ramps).
ARE THERE SOME ACCESS NEEDS THAT ARE MORE COMMON THAN OTHERS?
As marginalized people, we most likely have access needs we wish were considered more. Our culture asks us to “pass” in many ways. As trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people, we may be familiar with the concepts of passing. Sometimes, folks are asked to conform to the systems they are in which can hurt them. This can include being asked to “toughen up”, “make do” and “not make such a big deal” when faced with challenges such as sharing space with scents that make it hard to breathe, or find ways to access physical spaces without elevators, ramps, or lifts. Concepts like “toughen up” can be applied to many groups and is not a value that promotes intersectional activist culture. It is our duty as an organization to accommodate, believe, and take care of our more vulnerable community members by making access needs a priority so that all can feel safe, welcomed, and supported at Gender Justice League.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Becoming a supporter of people in disability justice communities is a journey. As we say in activist spaces, “allyship is a verb” and how we conduct ourselves when challenged in providing access needs shows us the merit of our characters. Not many like hearing that a product they enjoy or that a way they express themselves is causing harm to our more sensitive members. However, this is a way to learn about the sensitive members of your community and how you can fight for them.
ACCESS NEEDS THAT HAVE BEEN ADDRESSED IN THE PAST
- Asking for someone’s pronouns/Recognition of alternative non-binary gender expressions
- Scent free/low scent spaces
- Washing hands after smoking
- Braille access/ASL Interpretation/Closed
- Captioning/Video resources
- Ramp/wheelchair access or help access spaces for folks with mobility restrictions
- Skype meetings in lieu of physically attending meetings
- Low stimulation environment: Low noise spaces/No flashing lights in spaces/Calming spaces for meltdown/feeling overwhelmed
- POC only spaces
- Stim friendly environments/Autistic friendly spaces
- Radical respect for boundaries (even when we are trying to help)/Asking before hugging/touching
- Food allergies acknowledged/Ingredients labeled
- Sober space/Drug Free Space
- Material compiled and organized by Ayom Ament in 2018 and updated by the Accessibility Team in 2020.