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BIPOC Community Relations Policy v1.0
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BIPOC Community Relations Policy

Version 1.0. Last updated 27 April 2022.

Written by Jada Gannon-Day

Acknowledgements: With thanks to Laura Horak, Evie Johnny Ruddy, Kate Higginson, Kit Chokly, Cara Tierney, and Cáel Keegan, along with the TMP’s working groups on Decentering Whiteness and Indigenous consultations, for contributing ideas, discussion time and editorial suggestions to this policy in 2021–22.


Table of contents

1. Context: Situating the Transgender Media Lab

2. Guiding Principles

3. Implementation: Guidelines and Protocols

3.1. Transgender Media Portal Database and Website

3.2. BIPOC Trans Filmmakers Page

3.2.1. Statement of Intent

3.2.2. Policies

3.3. Template

3.4. Social Media and Public Presence

3.5. Community Engagement

3.6. Maintaining Group Values


1. Context: Situating the Transgender Media Lab

We recognize that the Transgender Media Lab and its primary research project, the Transgender Media Portal, are operating within a settler colonial structure, built upon the exploitation of the land, labour, and bodies of Black and Indigenous peoples and other people of colour. The Transgender Media Lab, based at a Canadian university, operates from a basis of institutional power and privilege on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin-Anishinaabe territory, and thus must remain actively and consciously committed to anti-racist and anti-colonial action within our lab, our external initiatives, and the greater community.

We recognize that the oppression, exploitation, and criminalization of BIPOC people is not a passive or past event, but an ongoing process with a structural basis. The implications of these structures are far-reaching and intrinsically tied to our lab’s work and public presence. As they impact us as community and team members, artists, and consumers, these structures define the nature and role of our continued work.

This policy aims to not only acknowledge but also to address our institutional position and subsequent responsibility to BIPOC communities and individuals, to ensure our position not as passive observers of oppression but as active players in anti-oppressive work. The goal of this policy is not completeness, nor excusal, but to lay a foundation and to make clear, plan, and sustain our values in our work.

2. Guiding Principles

  1. Highlighting: The Transgender Media Lab prioritizes the scholarship, media, and campaigns of BIPOC trans, Two Spirit, nonbinary, intersex, & gender-nonconforming individuals.
  2. Redirection: The Transgender Media Lab will use its institutional positionality and resources to bring attention to, support, and corroborate the work and activism of BIPOC trans creators and community members.
  3. Orientation: As a project which is receiving grant funding from academic and government sources, we ethically orient towards BIPOC communities. We use our position to challenge systems of domination, rather than engaging in them.
  4. Acknowledgement: The Transgender Media Lab internally and publicly recognizes and effectively compensates the labour of BIPOC people who we may consult and engage with. We are committed to representing and valuing the emotional and mental labour of BIPOC artists and community members.
  5. Recognition: We are committed to rejecting Western settler epistemology as the sole method of conceptualising gender and producing cultural identity. The Transgender Media Lab recognizes Indigenous sovereignty and Indigenous communities’ definitions and codings of their own identities.
  6. Transparency: We accurately and honestly represent our project and the work associated with the development and management of the Transgender Media Portal to challenge the institutional division between our lab and the communities we aim to represent. We will make our intentions and values known.
  7. Receptiveness: The Transgender Media Lab refuses to be a static organization. We will be proactive and not reactive in our efforts to make ourselves available to community feedback on our actions, orientation, and structure. We will take necessary steps to correct any behaviour that deviates from our core value system.
  8. Consciousness: The Transgender Media Lab and its members will be conscious in their interactions with BIPOC individuals and communities; we are aware of our internal and external engagements with BIPOC people and organizations and will take active steps to prevent objectification, tokenism, and other relational microaggressions.
  9. Amplification: The Transgender Media Lab will authentically represent BIPOC  trans, Two Spirit, nonbinary, intersex, & gender-nonconforming artists. We will engage with and highlight BIPOC trans creators and their content, rather than speaking for them.
  10. Authenticity: The Transgender Media Lab challenges the dehumanizing and eliminatory nature of colonial white supremacy by prioritizing the humanity of BIPOC trans artists. We will represent the unique, varied, and complex experiences of BIPOC  trans, Two Spirit, nonbinary, intersex, & gender-nonconforming people beyond abstract concepts and debates, instead representing real and meaningful experiences of complete people.

3. Implementation: Guidelines and Protocols

We will implement and maintain our values within multiple areas, including our website, public presence, internal operations, and community engagements. These plans, however, are based on the current status and position of the Transgender Media Portal and thus, are to be continuously updated as our structure, presence, and operations change.

3.1. Transgender Media Portal Database and Website

As the Transgender Media Portal develops new content and applications, we will represent our solidarity with and commitment to BIPOC trans artists within our database and on our websites. In recognizing our guiding principles and positionality, we will take steps to ensure that the Transgender Media Portal is consistently developed in accordance with the needs of BIPOC trans people in mind, with respect for BIPOC trans activists, organizations, and communities.

Some of the steps involved in this commitment include:

3.2. BIPOC Trans Filmmakers Page

3.2.1. Statement of Intent

The BIPOC Trans Filmmakers page first and foremost works to bring the names and work of BIPOC trans and Two Spirit artists to the forefront of our project. This list challenges the history within trans media of white trans artists being disproportionately represented over BIPOC trans artists. This list works to give those marginalized deserved recognition and to acknowledge the labour that is often undervalued within dominant society. This is also the list that we offer when festivals or organizations ask us for recommendations of trans filmmakers. This is part of our project’s ongoing effort to promote and centre BIPOC trans artists not just on this page but throughout our website, database, and social media platforms.

3.2.2. Policies

Representation is not a singular, outward act, but a commitment to a larger internal and external process. The Transgender Media Lab is committed to not only hosting the BIPOC Trans Filmmakers page, but to actively maintaining the page to accurately represent and amplify the voices of BIPOC trans creators, activists, and community members. We will do this by:

3.3. Template

We have developed a standard template for writing biographies for the artists included on our BIPOC Trans Filmmakers webpage.

The template includes the following information:

Example:

Carmen LoBue
(they/them) Carmen LoBue is a queer nonbinary Afro-Pilipinx American filmmaker. Works include, but are not limited to, Cheer Up Charlie (2019), Will You…Hold My Hair Back?” (2020), and Pink & Blue (2021). Website.

3.4. Social Media and Public Presence

The Transgender Media Portal’s public presence impacts both our organization and our greater communities. The Transgender Media Portal will take the following steps to reflect our core values in our engagement with social media (e.g. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook):

3.5. Community Engagement

As a community-focused research project, the Transgender Media Lab’s commitments extend beyond our audience and into the greater communities that we aim to represent and support. The Transgender Media Lab strives to build and maintain positive and collaborative relationships with BIPOC trans communities, organizations, and community members. We will do so by:

3.6. Maintaining Group Values

The Transgender Media Lab is relatively new (founded in December 2019) and hired its first full group of team members for the 2021–22 academic year. The lab is in the process of developing and implementing an expanded set of core values to foster a safe environment for members of the lab and the general public. We recognize that it is important that these values be reconsidered, updated, and continuously implemented as the project and team continue to expand. We will do this by:

www.transgendermediaportal.com