Exposing and countering organised harm
The purpose of Trans Safety Network is to carry on activities which benefit the community and in particular (without limitation) to members of the community of trans, nonbinary and gender diverse people in the United Kingdom, the wider LGBTQ+ community, and in general those who are affected by transphobic organised harms. That includes those members of the community who disagree with us, our approach, and the work we do.
However, as an organisation, we believe that it is necessary to adopt a core minimum set of values and commitments to ensure our work is effective. Those who work for or volunteer with us are not necessarily required to hold the following values personally, but are expected to uphold them through the work they do for Trans Safety Network, and to not act in a way which could damage the perception that Trans Safety Network is committed to these values.
Trans Safety Network’s values and commitments include the following:
- Trans people exist and have always existed outside of the lens of medical diagnosis. Trans people are not required to transition in particular ways, experience particular feelings, or obtain medical approval in order to be considered trans. Transness should be understood as a broad concept, including all of those subjected to the violence of rigid gender norms, and who additionally identify with the term.
- Gender diversity includes all those who experience or express their gender in ways which are deemed incompatible with cissexist norms. We understand that these norms are also shaped by white supremacy, patriarchy, (dis)ableism and heterosexism. This includes intersex people, who are forced — often by mutilation — into a binary construct of sex and gender. This also includes detransitioners, who are painted as tainted or ruined by their previous transition. The liberation, freedom, and safety of trans and other gender diverse people are bound up together, and it is imperative that non-trans gender diverse people are actively included within our work and our organising.
- We reject demands that trans safety is or should be conditional on assimilation. Trans safety cannot be guaranteed by ensuring the access of certain trans people to a privileged position within society, so long as they sufficiently conform with expected norms. Many trans people are harmed by attempts to restrict rights on the basis of insufficiently performing cisness. Trans safety requires dismantling these norms, and creating a society in which the most queer and diverse ways of being are equally liberated.
- Sex work is work, and is a form of work which trans people are disproportionately likely to engage in. Sex work remains a dangerous and precarious profession for many, but liberation, safety, and economic security cannot be achieved through ill-advised attempts to criminalise and aggressively regulate the industry. Sex workers should be listened to when they call for measures for harm reduction, such as through decriminalisation.
- Our work must be anti-racist and anti-colonial. It must understand the continued privileging of white trans narratives from the global north over the experiences of racialised trans people, and trans people from the global south. We recognise the role of white supremacism in enforcing the gender binary, and also the role of racism, including antisemitism, in the operation of the global anti-gender movement.
- We adopt a feminist, and more specifically transfeminist, approach. We recognise the the violence inherent to gendered norms and the operation of the patriarchy, and that both gendering and degendering are typically coercive processes. We understand that existence of a hierarchy privileging patriarchs over feminised subjects, including the specific coercive power granted to men over non-men and those perceived as non-men. Transmisogyny is not rooted in misandry, but rather a specific form of violence towards trans women, and other transfeminine people, rooted in both transphobia and misogyny, and the ways that these both interact to exacerbate each other.
- We reject a framing of trans safety which is centred on a purely civil and political rights, or anti-discrimination approach. Our approach to ensuring trans safety is and must be rooted in fostering community resilience, guaranteeing social and economic justice, and ensuring the material conditions for liberation are available to every trans and gender diverse person. We reject attempts to criminalise our way to safety through mechanisms such a hate crime laws, which seek to close the door after the horse has bolted. We do not individualise “hate” to the views of individual perpetrators while obscuring the conditions and institutions that organise a culture of harm in our communities. Efforts for trans safety must be about reducing harm before it happens, whilst creating a safer, less harmful society in the present.