Making our Union Non-binary and Disability inclusive

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2018 National LGBT Conference
21 September 2018

Conference notes that a growing number of our members, some of whom are disabled members, define as non-binary. For UNISON non-binary disabled members, the existing structures and practices within the union may not acknowledge their identity and may create a feeling of exclusion from the union at all levels, including within disabled members self-organisation as well as the wider union.

Misgendering, where someone is assumed to have a gender identity they do not, is a particular problem. Some non-binary people use pronouns other than “he” or “she”, such as “they”. The perpetuation of binary models of gender identity throughout our union, including the use of language such as “ladies and gentlemen”, may add to the sense that there is no place for non-binary people in our union.

Non-binary people who are disabled experience 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.

Conference welcomes UNISON’s factsheet “Gender equality: non-binary inclusion? and UNISON’s PowerPoint presentation on non-binary inclusion that was successfully delivered to the national Disabled Members Committee (NDMC) by representatives from the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Committee (NLGBTC).

Conference welcomes further work that the NLGBTC has done on non-binary inclusion, including with NDMC which led to a motion being submitted to their 2018 national conference on non-binary inclusion with a focus on making the disabled self-organised group more inclusive of our disabled non-binary members.

Conference upholds the principles of fair representation and proportionality and understands that there remains a need for gendered references such as for reserved seats for women. Indeed, disabled LGBT women are under-represented within some structures of the union.

However, there are many places within UNISON’s rule book, guidance and structures, excepting the need for women’s representation, where gendered references are unnecessary and as a result not inclusive for our non-binary members. This means that where seats are designated ‘male’ seats and not ‘general’ seats, our non-binary members are excluded from standing on various committees. Where there are references in the rule book to ‘he’ and ‘she’ our non-binary members are made invisible.

Conference therefore instructs the national LGBT committee to work with the national executive council and other self-organised groups:

1)To consider ways in which the language in the UNISON rule book and other documents can be reviewed to make sure that they are inclusive of our non-binary members;

2)To consider ways in which the structures of the union can be reviewed to enable our non-binary members to be able to stand for election at all levels of the union

3)To continue to raise awareness around non-binary inclusion including issues on intersectionality