The core of the BUTCH Voices mission statement is “to enhance and sustain the well-being of all women, female-bodied, and trans-identified individuals who are Masculine of Center,” and as such we intend to maintain “safer” and supportive spaces for all attendees, presenters, and organizers of the BUTCH Voices national conferences.
On August 9th, 2013, it was brought to the attention of the Executive Board that an individual scheduled to participate on a panel has publicly expressed views that are in direct conflict with our mission and values. As such, the individual has been asked to step down from the panel and will no longer be a panelist. We had a conversation with the panelist in question, and we were not convinced that the panelist could remain respectful while expressing their viewpoint.
The board recognizes, honors and values the myriad of identities and perspectives that our community represents. This organization works hard to ensure that all individuals feel included and supported while in attendance at the conference. We welcome and encourage a difference of opinion and/or perspective as a part of our intent to foster dialogue, understanding, and acceptance within our community. However, speech that blatantly disregards the emotional safety and gender identities of our community will not be tolerated or condoned in any way.
This is particularly true of our presenters and organizers, whom we hold to a high standard of respect, tolerance, and inclusion. We require that all individuals who are presenters and organizers—or in any way represent the organization—adhere to the organization’s mission and values to be inclusive and respectful of our diversity.
BUTCH Voices has a history of tackling hard subjects, willingly participating in uncomfortable dialogues, and responding head-on to confrontation and conflict. We have not and do not censor presenters based on their individual opinions, perspectives, or politics. However, we draw the line when a presenter’s expressed views directly cause harm to members of our community.
Many of our attendees and supporters develop, maintain, and build community through online forums. Expression in public online forums is taken into account when considering the participation of individuals as presenters and organizers of BUTCH Voices. The willingness to cause psychological harm and fear is taken as seriously as an expressed intent to cause physical harm, and BUTCH Voices will not allow such language to permeate the safer spaces we seek to create. We understand that individuals that choose to attend may still hold such views. While we cannot control the opinions, perspectives and views of our attendees (and do not wish to), BUTCH Voices has a series of Community Guidelines that all attendees must do their best to adhere to.
The short version of the Community Guidelines are to
- Refrain from scented products
- Respect others’ gender identity and pronouns
- Engage in respectful dialogue
- Assume best intent of each other
- Take care of yourself
- Let us know if you feel unsafe
The full-length version can be found at http://www.butchvoices.com/community-guidelines/.
As we continue to foster the space for safe and inclusive dialogue with an intent of mutual respect, we will grow stronger as a community. BUTCH Voices is deeply committed to creating the container for this to take place. Thank you for your support and agreement to honor this conference with respect, dignity, and understanding.