Saying what we mean

Back to all Motions

2015 National Women's Conference
16 October 2014

Conference believes that inclusive language is important in ensuring that all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) women within the women’s movement and UNISON women’s self organisation feel welcome and valued.

Conference also believes that language, and our understanding of language, is constantly evolving, and that as women, including LGBT women, we should always be mindful of this.

Conference is aware of the impact and power of language and notes that within women’s self organisation there can be a tendency to discuss women’s issues from a hetero-normative viewpoint. This can result in LGBT women feeling that women’s self organisation is not an appropriate forum for their issues to be addressed and can result in exclusion.

Conference notes that language is often discussed within the transgender community, and new words and phrases are emerging as this community finds a voice within wider society and within our union.

Conference understands that it is easy to continue to use words and phrases without fully considering the effect that these may have on already marginalised groups of women within women’s self-organisation. For example, some people use the word “straight” as if it is an opposite to “LGBT”, which amongst other issues, ignores the fact that many trans women are straight. Sometimes our language silences the voices of people who identify as non-binary – that is, people who do not identify as either male or female, or who identify as both male and female.

Conference calls on the national women’s committee working with the national LGBT committee to:

1) Look into the issues around language inclusivity and the evolving language in regard to LGBT women;

2) Work towards publishing guidance for regional women’s groups, branches and individual activists on making sure that the language used is inclusive;

3) Seek to ensure that all future publications from the national women’s committee are inclusive in the language used, and consider revising previous publications, where necessary, to make them inclusive also.