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2018 National Women's Conference
28 September 2017

Conference welcomes the work initiated by UNISON’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) group to begin to make UNISON’s organisation, events, policies, systems and good practice advice inclusive of non-binary members.

Conference is concerned about scare-mongering media coverage of some organisations’ moves towards non-binary inclusion. This coverage has suggested that non-binary inclusion represents an attempt to ‘do away’ with gender or that it undermines work to tackle sexism and build women’s equality. Conference is mindful that much of this scaremongering has come from people with no track record in fighting for women’s rights.

Non-binary people are people whose gender identity is not solely male or female. They may define themselves as both, neither or something different. While non-binary people are of all ages and as diverse as any other cross section of society, increasing numbers of young people in particular are identifying outside traditional binary gender norms.

Conference believes that rather than undermining women’s rights, work for non-binary inclusion can help build women’s equality and women’s participation and vice versa.

For example, work on non-binary inclusion involves challenging gender stereotyping, which is a common component of sexism and which places limitations on girls’ and women’s hopes, ambitions, job choices and consequently pay.

Further, conference welcomes action by the national women’s committee to assist UNISON in achieving its rule book commitment to proportionality, including work towards a rule change to create “general” seats rather than “male” seats on the national executive council (NEC) and throughout UNISON structures. Conference notes that this would also assist in removing barriers to non-binary participation, allowing people who do not identify as female or male to apply for general seats.

Conference therefore calls on the national women’s committee to:

1)Raise awareness within the women’s self-organised group, including branch and regional women’s groups, of steps to build non-binary inclusion in UNISON, including promoting the UNISON factsheet on this subject ‘Gender equality: non-binary inclusion’;

2. Dispel any myths of a conflict between non-binary inclusion and women’s equality;

3. Work with the national LGBT committee to co-ordinate work on tackling gender stereotyping;

4. Consider ways to support the national LGBT committee in furthering non-binary inclusion in UNISON and in the workplace.