BUTCH Voices Community Guidelines

BUTCH Voices aims to be an inclusive and welcoming space for folks to engage and connect with others across the myriad of gender and sexuality communities in anti-oppressive and intentional ways. We value and hold space for self-identification, encourage dialogue about difficult topics, and often intentionally seek these conversations out for our workshops. BUTCH Voices has created a set of community guidelines for fostering respectful, compassionate spaces for all participants and presenters while engaging with one another at the conference.

The short version of the Guidelines is to please:

  1. Refrain from scented products.
  2. Respect others gender identity and pronouns.
  3. Engage in respectful dialogue.
  4. Assume best intent of others.
  5. Take care of yourself.
  6. Let us know if you feel unsafe.

Refrain from scented products

The entire BUTCH Voices conference, is scent aware. Please read our entire scent-aware policy here. Please keep yourself scent-free so everybody can show up and not have to leave due to chemical injury! Leave off perfume, cologne, essential oils and use fragrance-free detergent on your clothes. If you have a strong scent on your body, you may be asked to move or leave.

Respect others gender identity and pronouns

Don’t make assumptions based on someone’s presentation—none of us get to determine someone else’s identity, politics, or pronouns. It is respectful to ask someone their pronoun before referring to them in the third person. If this information is not known to you, use their name or no pronoun at all. Deliberate misgendering or unwillingness to respect another’s identity and personhood will not be tolerated.

Adherence and respect for the mission, vision and values of BUTCH Voices

Mission
“The mission of BUTCH Voices is to enhance and sustain the well-being of all women, female-bodied, and trans-identified individuals who are Masculine of Center.* We achieve this by providing programs that build community, positive visibility and empower us to advocate for our whole selves inclusive of and beyond our gender identity and sexual orientation. Our community is vast and growing and we have many identifications that resemble what the world knows as our “butchness.” We recognize our diversity as having a foundation rooted in butch heritage. We welcome the on-going development of movements intentionally and critically inclusive of our gender variant community. BUTCH Voices is a social justice organization that is race and gender inclusive, pro-womanist and feminist.”

Who We Are
“We are woman-identified Butches. We are trans-masculine Studs. We are faggot-identified Aggressives. We are noun Butches, adjective Studs and pronoun-shunning Aggressives. We are she, he, hy, ze, zie and hir. We are you, and we are me. The point is, we don’t decide who is Butch, Stud or Aggressive. You get to decide for yourself.

BUTCH Voices is a grassroots organization dedicated to all self-identified Masculine of Center* people and our Allies. We, at BUTCH Voices, feel it is important to bring together our diverse communities, build bridges, make connections. We use our collective voices to gain better understanding of each other and promote positive visibility with intention, integrity and transparency.”

Respectful Dialogue

BUTCH Voices values the wide range of perspectives and identities that make up our communities. We recognize the value of bringing together a wide range of experiences, and maintaining a mutually respectful and considerate environment for all perspectives to be shared and heard. At times, we may encounter perspectives or experiences we do not agree with or do not share. We agree to receive and engage with one another in a manner that is supportive and respectful of a vast range of identities and experiences, especially in situations where differences of opinion or perspectives arise.

We encourage respectful dialogue and constructive disagreement, but will not condone or tolerate harmful or disruptive language. There is a zero tolerance policy for hate speech or threatening physical violence of any kind.

Many of our communities are formed, maintained and thrive in online forums. A history of threatening physical violence or hate speech in these spaces found to be out of alignment with the expressed values and mission of BUTCH Voices will be taken into consideration for all presenters, moderators and organizers.

Assume Best Intent of Others

We encourage folks to speak from their own experience. We do not all share the same experiences, language or understandings. Always try and assume the best intent of the person speaking. Ask for clarity around things that are shared that may not be phrased in the way you would say them, rather than assuming the worst. It is okay to simply say “ouch” if something comes up that is hurtful or if you’re unable to go into detail about what is coming up for you, but want to let someone know that you’re feeling uncomfortable in the conversation.
Collectively, we can be allies to each other by encouraging others to ask clarifying questions, speak from their own experiences and to use “I” statements rather than broad generalizations.

Intent vs. Impact

Along with assuming the best intent from others, we ask that you be accountable of the impact you have. If someone has shared that they are uncomfortable after a hard discussion, this is likely not the best time to crack a joke or discount their experience because you feel uncomfortable. Your intent may have been to cheer them up or change the topic, however the impact may be alienating, hurtful and/or have a silencing effect on the other person.

It’s okay to ask what someone else may need and it’s okay to let someone know you can’t be there to support them at this time.

Be accountable of your impact while being clear about your intent.

W.A.I.T.
We ask folks to share the air. Another way of thinking of this is: W.A.I.T. = “Why am I talking?” This gives folks an opportunity to speak who have not yet done so, and be mindful of the space you are taking up in the conversation, even if you are a presenter.

Take care of yourself, and Let us know if you feel unsafe

BUTCH Voices uses the term “safer space,” because we cannot guarantee an absolute “safe” space for any single individual. While “safe” is subjective, there are still some ground rules that we feel it is possible to put in place in order to build space where healthy disagreements, overlapping similarities, and moments of “a-ha!” and enlivenment can occur.

In a “safer space,” we set forth community guidelines (such as this document), and acknowledge that some discomfort for individuals may occur during a conversation or discussion with those we disagree with. This is especially true in a space where dialogue around difficult topics is encouraged. An individual’s discomfort, while important, is up to the individual to take care of. We encourage you to know your limits, recognize when you are uncomfortable, speak up when you feel a line has been crossed for you and do what you need to do to take care of yourself. You are the only one that knows what your personal safety looks like.

Confidentiality
Confidentiality in shared experiences must be respected. People share personal items in these spaces, so what is said here, stays here. We encourage you to share what you learn from your experiences without sharing about another person’s experience or disclosures. There is a difference in sharing what you learn from a conversation versus sharing the individual details about someone participating with you.

Be Present
Show up – and be present with what is happening in front of you. While we encourage reporting your experience of the conference on your social media (2013 conference hashtag is #bv13), engagement on social media with folks outside of the conference and texting can wait until between workshops. People are investing themselves in being here in person, and engaging in the present moment is not only respectful, it also makes our overall experiences more beneficial to all involved.

In Conclusion

BUTCH Voices is a unique space for conversation, connection, and dialogue. Respect of our community guidelines will help us to make the best of our time together and give us an opportunity to truly honor each person we connect with. We thank you for your cooperation in helping to make this a safe, affirmative and supportive environment for all of us.