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. Some examples are, for those with scent sensitivities to be in spaces where people are mindful of the personal scents they use; those with noise sensitivities, trauma, and C-PTSD/PTSD requesting a low noise access need; and folks with mobility restrictions wanting to know if the space is accessible via elevators, lifts or ramps. Access needs should be taken seriously and allow those requesting them to be heard, included, and accommodated with the resources we have available. Remember that not all disabilities are apparent.
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, nonbinary 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.
Accessible Areas You Will Find at Trans Pride Seattle
Scent Free Spaces
Many scents are found in products that are labeled “unscented”. Some alcohol based hand sanitizers can trigger asthmatics and alcoholics. Lotions, shampoos, body washes, and other personal care products can linger on skin, clothes, and hair. Scent Free Spaces allow people with multiple chemical sensitivities, asthma, and COPD to feel safe in the spaces they are in. People who are immunocompromised experience migraines, people experiencing chemotherapy, and others may also ask for low scent spaces. Wash with scent free soap and avoid sitting near them until a plan has been established to keep that person safe.
While we acknowledge that outdoor and shared spaces are occupied by people who wear scents, we can still work on making community events as scent free as possible and educate those in our shared space. If someone tells you that a scent you are wearing is hurting them, believe them!
The Spoons Tent and The Mini-Spoonie Tent are enclosed areas where folks can go if they are feeling overwhelmed or need to otherwise remove themselves from an overstimulating environment. These sensory-friendly areas are usually semi-sound proof, low-light, cozy, and contain various items designed to soothe and distract the visitor. Trained volunteers are available to talk with and listen should the need arise.
When folks in our community have sensitivities and become overstimulated, it can feel akin to being inside a tornado. Everything and everyone can become scary - even if the person is completely safe. Sensory-friendly areas, such as our Spoons Tent, allow those folks a place to center themselves. If someone tells you that it's too much, believe them!
Accessible Seating Area
Near the stage, we have cordoned off an Accessible Seating Area with extra room for wheelchairs and scooters. We also provide plenty of chairs for folks who have hearing and sight limitations, and limited mobility. In addition, we prioritize the front row for folks in our deaf and hard of hearing community. If someone indicates that they need access to this section, believe them!
Puppy Pit Stop
For our four-legged helpers, we have provided an area where animals and their companions can rest and recharge. Water (and treats) are provided, along with ample room to get the wiggles out!
As Trans Pride Seattle continues to grow and evolve, we would love to involve the community in our conversation about disability justice. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and comments!
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 Spaces
Material compiled and organized by Ayom Ament in 2018 and updated by the Accessibility Team in 2020.