Including Non Binary Disabled People in our Self Organised Group

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2018 National Disabled Members' Conference
6 July 2018

Conference notes that not all UNISON disabled members define themselves as either male or female. A growing number of our members instead define themselves as non-binary.

For UNISON disabled members who identify as non-binary, the existing structures and practices within the union may not acknowledge their identity and may create a feeling of exclusion from the union, including from the disabled members self organised group.

Mis-gendering, where someone is assumed to have a gender identity they do not, is a particular problem. Some non binary people prefer to use pronouns other than “he” or “she”, such as “they”. The perpetuation of binary models of gender identity throughout our disabled members self organised group, including the continued use of “ladies and gentlemen” to cover all of our members, may add to the sense that there is no place for non binary people in our disabled members self organised group.

Non-binary people who are disabled face multiple challenges, one of which is having a gender identity that few people know about or understand (50% of non-binary people are not out at work (Scottish Trans Alliance research 2015)). This is exacerbated by disability discrimination.

Although gender monitoring remains important in UNISON’s work to achieve proportionality for women members, it is not always necessary to ask members to define their gender and doing away with unnecessary gender divisions is best practice and makes our disabled self organised group more inclusive for non-binary people. It can also benefit everyone.

Conference welcomes UNISON’s factsheet ‘Gender equality: non-binary inclusion’ and UNISON’s Powerpoint presentation on non-binary inclusion that can be delivered to branches and regions. Conference calls on the National Disabled Members Committee, working with the National LGBT Committee where appropriate, to:

1.Raise awareness within our disabled members self organised group, including branch and regional groups, of steps to build non-binary inclusion in our group and in the workplace, including publicising and promoting the UNISON factsheet and presentation on this subject

2.Undertake an audit of National Disabled Members committee and conference policies, procedures and practices to ensure gender is only being requested where it is required to achieve proportionality and achieve equality, and that where it is necessary to monitor gender, options for non binary disabled members are included and non-binary members are not excluded from our group

3.Consider holding a workshop on inclusion of non-binary disabled people at Disabled Members Conference 2019.