Rainbow Violence Prevention Network (RVPN) invites you to a conversational Q & A panel discussion. The topic is ‘preventing family violence against rainbow people in Aotearoa’.
RVPN is at the forefront of researching, responding to, and preventing family violence towards rainbow people in Aotearoa. The network is a coalition of diverse rainbow violence prevention practitioners and organisations. You can find out more about RVPN here.
This event has been organised with violence prevention professionals in mind. It will be a great opportunity to engage with other violence prevention practitioners, who are part of rainbow communities in Aotearoa.
A research report from The Disinformation Project has documented the merging of disinformation communities in Aotearoa, and shift from Covid 19 to transgender hate.
The report, ‘Transgressive transitions’, documents the merging of conspiracy theorist communities which produce disinformation in Aotearoa. The ‘disinformation communities’ include anti-vaxx, Covid 19 denialist, white supremacist, fundamentalist faith based, and anti-trans communities.
It found that the disinformation community which formed around Covid 19 recently shifted it’s focus to the transgender community. This shift happened in ‘near real time’ as a visit occurred from UK anti-trans campaigner Posie Parker (Kelly-Jay Keen-Minshull). Parker is also known for her links with white supremacy and neo-nazis. Parker visited Aotearoa in March 2023.
The report defines ‘disinformation’ as :
“false information created with the intention of harming a person, group, or organisation, or even a company”
The report documented an unprecedented increase in extremist, far-right disinformation online in Aotearoa, as the disinformation communities merged and refocused on transgender hate.
The report notes several important concepts, which trans communities have attempted to highlight over the past few decades:
The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention has described the international ‘gender critical movement’ as genocidal: “the gender critical movement simultaneously denies that transgender identity is real and seeks to eradicate it completely from society.”
The reports goes on to say:
We note specifically the continued and targeted use of the language of genocidality […]
Through the repeated use of dehumanising language … we are studying the strategic shift of social perceptions, values, and attitudes, which is a dangerous speech hallmark. The violative language engenders and normalises the notion that targets must be killed, and often, urgently.
This is what we’ve been telling the government for years, if you want to counter terrorism, this is the direction you need to look in.
For many years now, a common tactic of anti-transgender campaigners has been doxing (sometimes spelled doxxing).
What doxing means
‘Dox’ means ‘documents’, and refers to a person’s private information; such as:
Legal name (if this is private)
Date of birth.
Information about their workplace or family.
Medical conditions, disabilities, HIV status.
Doxing is the act of publicly releasing someone else’s private information to the public, without their consent, for malicious purposes.
Doxing is intended to be extremely distressing, and for many people it is.
Your safety is the main priority. This guide is designed to give you step by step ways to increase your safety, before or after being doxed.
Types of doxing
There are essentially two main types of doxing.
The first main type of doxing is usually posted on social media and is carried out by individuals who are known to the victim. The dox is usually spread by people in communities which are connected to the victim.
This type of dox often focuses on sharing the victim’s secrets or private stories, sexual photographs or details, false information about them, or false accusations against them.
Sometimes these posts might include a ‘call to action’. For example, ‘they should be fired’, along with details to contact your employer.
This type of doxxing is often carried out locally, and therefore can often be addressed using the law. However, it can also lead to the second main type of doxing.
The second main type of doxing is doxing which is part of a ‘mass online harassment’ campaign. Mass online harassment is usually organised in dedicated online forums, which enable and incite both online and offline harassment. You could think of this as ‘crowdsourcing’ harassment and stalking.
Some such sites have the stated aim of ‘entertainment’, and others have stated aims of ‘protecting’ cisgender women from transgender women. Some have stated aims of causing the suicides of people which the forum opposes (like trans people, or neurodiverse people).
There are forums which are dedicated to harassing and stalking transgender people specifically, and forums dedicated to harassment and stalking more broadly.
WIRED published an article in 2022 on one of the most infamous stalking forums and one trans woman’s fight against it, which you can read here.
Warning: the above two links contain explicit hate, threats, racism, antisemitism, transphobia.
What happens when someone is doxxed
Since the 1990s, there have been many, many cases of doxing and mass online harassment against transgender women, which have incited harassment and stalking offline as well.
Even without hacking passwords, email accounts, or social media, mass online harassment can cause significant problems for victims.
This includes cases where trans women’s employers have been mass contacted and lied to, resulting in employment loss, cases of landlords and homeless shelters being contacted, resulting in long term homelessness, and cases of schools being contacted about transgender teenagers. Even children as young as 5 years old have been targeted in order to harass their parents.
Another common harassment tactic is ‘swatting’. This means that a harasser calls the Police (a SWAT team) and says that they are the victim. They will impersonate the victim to the police and say things that are likely to bring an armed police presence to the house. They might make threats of extreme violence, against others, against the public, or against the police, in the victim’s name. They also give the victim’s address. The hope is that Police will assume the report is real, will go to the victim’s house, and shoot the victim, or at the very least that the victim will be detained and traumatised.
It’s also common for harassers to order products, deliveries, and services to the victim’s house, harass the victim’s parents or other family members, and to target the victim’s friends and supporters for similar harassment.
This harassment can carry on for months, or years.
In one extreme case, a trans woman was harassed for around a decade. Two harassers dated her and wore a wire to record conversations and post them online. A group of several harassers became her friends and talked her into believing false information and doing embarrassing and harmful things.
In a different case, a trans woman was mass harassed and stalked, and had to leave her home and stay in a motel. She took a photo of her cat on the motel bed and posted it online. The online harassment group looked at the bed linen, and worked out which hotel used that linen, and sent pizzas to the hotel under her previous name.
You can read more about these two cases in a PDF here. Warning, this is a deep dive into one of the the worst places on the internet, and is a horrible read.
This type of harassment can make the victim feel that they are not safe anywhere.
The person who paints a target on you might not be the one to act on it, but the message is clear: “I can’t be held responsible for what happens next.” Aside from intimidation, harassers will often use dox to create the illusion that they have totally invaded your personal space, even if their information is of limited value or inaccurate.
Crash Override Network
How to stay safe from doxing
The simplest advice is to keep your personal information off the internet, or restrict it to people you know and trust.
Think about which social media platforms you use, and which information is available to the public or to people you don’t know well. This might include places you’ve lived, worked, or studied, past or current relationships, family members, photographs of personal things.
Other ways that information might be found include the White/Yellow Pages, WhoIs Lookup (if you own any URLs or run any websites), advertisements looking for flatmates – which might include your address or identifiable photos of your house, and dating or hookup sites which use your name or photo.
Google search your name, and any names you’ve used in the past, to see what is easily findable.
Further security advice includes both online and offline measures. Here are some excellent guides to increasing your security.
Crash Override Network
You can use Crash Override Network’s Automated Security Helper (C.O.A.C.H.) to help you lock down all of your online accounts. It is a step by step guide to securing your information online, with links to things like password managers, privacy settings on each social media platform, and many other features. You’ll probably need at least one hour to secure all of your accounts.
‘Speak up and stay safe(r)’ is a guide to protecting yourself from online harassment. It covers many important issues, including preventing doxing, passwords and login security, website security, social media, online gaming security, physical mail, using an alias name, video and text chat, securing your physical devices, people-focused security strategies, and a lot more.
Being doxed can be extremely overwhelming. It can help to be organised about how you process what is happening, what steps you take to secure your information, and how you plan what to do next.
First, don’t blame yourself. Other people have chosen to dox and harass you, and the blame and fault lies with them, not with you.
Second, use the guides we’ve linked above to secure your email account, and ideally your online presence.
Third, document what is happening.
Then you can move on to working out what to do next.
Having a record of any harassment (what happened and when it happened) is very powerful evidence, should you need it later.
You can do this by starting an email thread to yourself – make the subject something like ‘harassment’. Write yourself an email as though you are writing a report to the Police. Take screenshots of the doxing, and try to include the URL and the timestamp. If that’s not possible, write down the URL and when it was posted, and when you saw it. Include any useful information, such as who doxed you, if you know this.
Reply to the email thread with a new report every time something happens, especially if the harassment moves offline. This way, you have a clear record, even if you don’t have any other evidence of the harassment.
Some people seek support by posting about the harassment on social media. This can have several effects, which you may want to consider:
It can help you to get support from friends and others.
It can help others to speak out about what has happened to them, and share useful advice with you.
It can be a chance to tell people in your community not to accidentally give out your information, for example through social media posts and photos of you with geolocations.
It can alert people that someone might contact them pretending to be you.
It can mean that you receive many messages of support, which can be great or can be overwhelming.
It can mean you get a lot of unwanted advice, or victim blaming (people saying it’s your own fault).
It can mean that the people harassing you might see that you’re upset and decide it will be entertaining to continue or escalate the harassment.
It can confirm that the information about you that has been shared is accurate.
If you choose to go public about your harassment, be aware of the risks before you do it, and consider locking down your privacy first.
Some people choose to ignore the harassment and carry on their online presence as usual, to show that they don’t care at all and it’s not worth trying to harass them.
Others take a break from the internet, to deprive their harassers of entertainment, to give themself some time to work out what to do, or just to get some respite from harassment.
It’s OK to do whatever feels right for you. It’s likely that everyone who knows about the harassment will have an opinion on what you should do, but it is your decision.
Remember that you can ask for help from people you trust without posting to a wider audience. You don’t have to go through this alone, it’s OK to ask for help.
Some people ask one friend (or support person) to monitor their social media, another friend to monitor their email inbox, and another friend to monitor the forum they were doxed on. Before you assign these kinds of tasks, consider how you want them to deal with comments or messages.
You may want to ask your support people to take a screenshot of harassment and put it into a folder for evidence, or to report and block harassers, or something else. If your email account has been signed up to a lot of spam lists by the people harassing you, you might want to ask the person monitoring your email to unsubscribe you from all spam lists and delete spam messages.
If you are receiving credible threats, such as your home address or your current whereabouts being posted online or sent to you by the people harassing you, you will need to take action to protect yourself.
Crash Override Network has an article on what to do if you’ve been doxed, which you can read by clicking the button below. This article also links to information on talking with Police and family about the situation.
If you haven’t yet checked out the Speak up and Stay Safe(r) guide above, make time to read through it now, and consider which areas are a security risk for you and how you want to manage these risks.
Using the law in Aotearoa
First of all, it’s important to know that Police are unlikely to fully understand what mass online harassment looks like, what it means for the victim, and what can be done to protect you. This being said, if it’s likely that a harasser might contact Police and impersonate you, it can be very helpful if they have been warned.
It can also be helpful to have an official record of when the harassment began, just in case it escalates in the future and you need to take legal action such as laying charges, seeking a Trespass Notice, or Restraining Order, or Protection Order, or something else.
If you have received credible threats, it may be possible for your phone number to be put on the Police list for ‘high priority’ calls, so that if you call for help your call will be recognised as urgent. Likewise, your home address could possibly be added as high priority, so that any calls from your street will alert Police to dispatch officers to your home.
You might find yourself asking why the Police aren’t doing more to protect you. There are some big difficulties in using the current laws to directly prevent or address crowdsourced mass harassment.
Let’s look at two scenarios, which highlight the differences between a more traditional stalking and harassment situation, and typical mass online harassment.
Scenario 1: traditional harassment
Imagine that everywhere you go, a certain person follows you, takes photos of you, and posts these online along with saying where you are right now, expressing negative views about trans people, and adding in some links to knife shops and medical information about stab wounds. They may not have directly threatened you with violence, but it’s very likely that they could be arrested and charged with at least harassment.
You could probably take out a Protection Order against them, which would make it illegal for them to be within several kilometres of your house or workplace, illegal for them to contact you or encourage anyone else to contact or harass you, and would remove any firearms licence they might hold, along with other protective measures.
Scenario 2: mass harassment
Now imagine a different scenario – whenever you go out in public, random strangers take photos of you. The photos are posted in an international online forum that is dedicated to transgender hate. The forum has many anonymous members who make explicit death threats against you. These members are mostly based in the UK or USA, outside of New Zealand legal jurisdiction.
This might be happening to you daily, but every time someone takes a photo of you, it’s done by a different person. Technically no individual is stalking you, even though what is happening to you is essentially stalking.
So, does any individual’s behaviour meet the threshold for harassment? Is anyone legally accountable for harassing you? Is there any way to apply our laws to someone in another country? How can you be protected?
In some cases, there are protective legal mechanisms which can help. In other cases, the best protection will be the things you do yourself, and the things your community does to protect and support you.
There are many different laws which relate to your human rights (such as the Human Rights Act, and the Bill of Rights), and laws which relate to criminal activity (including stalking, harassment, sharing someone’s private photos without their consent, harmful digital communications, making threats against a person, and assault).
The main formal routes to access legal protective mechanisms related to doxing are Netsafe, and New Zealand Police. You can also seek free legal advice from Community Law Centres.
If the harassment is based on a mainstream social media platform such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, Netsafe may be able to have it taken down. It’s also possible for Netsafe to arrange mediation and other support. If the harassment is based on a privately owned forum, it’s much less likely that the owners will cooperate. However, it may still be useful to talk with Netsafe about the Harmful Digital Communications Act, and what they can do.
If the harassment is coming from people who are in Aotearoa, The New Zealand Police may be able to intervene, stop the harassment, and prevent further harassment. If the harassment is coming from overseas, then our laws do not apply to the harassers and it’s less likely that the Police can hold the harassers accountable or protect you. However, it may still be useful to talk with the Police about what they can do.
Community Law offers free help and advice to people in Aotearoa. You can find out whether speaking to a lawyer can help you, and speak to one for free. As with Netsafe and Police, a lawyer may be of limited value when dealing with international harassment, but it may still be useful to speak with one.
If you are being approached or photographed offline
The official advice is to immediately call the Police by dialling 111 (one-one-one) from any phone.
We’ll briefly touch on a few other tactics to consider.
Ignore them, but look directly at them first so they know you’ve seen them. This works best if they are not approaching you, and if you can leave safely without being followed.
Start screaming ‘don’t touch me! Get away from me!’. This works best in a busy public place where it will draw attention from bystanders and embarrass the harasser into withdrawing. It is more effective when the person harassing you is a man.
Ask for help – people who are working in the place you’re being harassed can be especially helpful. Say something like ‘excuse me, that person is following me and threatening me. Is there somewhere safe that I can go, or can you please call security?’. This works best when you’re in a shop, library, or somewhere that has staff, but it can also work in other situations.
Start filming them. This works best when they are filming or photographing you, and you are not alone. Be aware that this may make them very angry, and they may attempt to take your device.
The following suggestions are ways that you could help to improve the safety of people around you who may be targets for harassment, or help if someone you know is being harassed, or ways that you could offer to support them.
Follow the above guides on keeping your own information secure.
Use the guides above to remove geolocation information from your social media posts.
Don’t use apps which connect your phone number and phone contacts with your social media/friend suggestions (such as the Facebook app).
Make sure you have permission before taking photographs of others and sharing them online.
Limit the personal details and private stories which you share about others.
Install and use secure messaging apps.
Offer to monitor the victim’s social media, forums they were doxed on, or their email account.
Offer to support the victim in talking with their school, employer, family, Police, or other people.
Keep information about the victim and their whereabouts 100% confidential.
If the victim has lost their job, had to leave their home, or otherwise had their material well being compromised, you could assist them in getting their needs met.
Be a safe person to talk with. Even a person’s best friend can accidentally put them in danger by not following security protocol, so make sure it really is safe to talk with you, and be honest with them about any security risks or breeches.
It’s important to know that one of the main features of doxing, harassment, and abuse is taking away the victim’s privacy and their autonomy. Don’t be part of the problem. You are not their rescuer or saviour, and they’re not an infant. No matter how tempting it is to tell them what to do, remember to let them make their own decisions.
If their decisions are too risky, or the personal cost of supporting them is too high, just let them know you need a break from supporting them. It’s OK to step away. It’s not OK to breach their privacy or infringe their autonomy.
If you see someone being harassed offline, you can use the 5 Ds of bystander intervention. The 5 Ds are Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, and Direct. You can read more about The 5 Ds here.
Life after mass harassment
Victims of mass harassment often have the ongoing need to balance their safety with their basic need to live their normal life.
There is a lot of extra advice online for people who are being stalked, and some of it might be applicable to your situation.
This includes things like:
Don’t go out alone.
Tell your friends, family, employer, school, and others about the stalking, and not to give your address to anyone (even couriers)
Designate your home a ‘no photographs’ zone.
Identify escape routes to leave your home.
Pack an emergency bag in case you have to leave suddenly.
Purchase a new phone and only give that number to people you trust.
Install solid doors and deadbolt locks in your home.
Keep doors and windows locked, even when you’re at home.
Use caution when opening your door – it’s better to be rude than harmed.
Send deliveries to your workplace instead of your home.
Make your electoral information unpublished.
If you have vulnerable family members, inform their nursing home or school.
Always park your car in a well lit area.
Stay alert when you’re in public.
Get a good trauma therapist, and talk things through with them.
Carry a cellphone and charger at all times.
Vary your routines.
Take a self-defence class.
Install security cameras.
These may be useful tips in some circumstances, but if mass harassment is ongoing (beyond 3 months), and you are receiving credible threats, you may need to consider larger and more permanent changes.
Living with the constant threat of violence is draining. It can make you depressed, hyper-alert and unable to relax, give you post-traumatic stress disorder, make it hard to eat, sleep, and socialise, and make working impossible.
You should not need to change your name, hair and clothing style, home address, phone number, or habits, but it may be necessary to consider whether the personal cost to you is higher if you continue on as you are, or if you have to change significant things about your life.
Some people believe that their harassers will ‘win’ if they have to make these kinds of changes.
Others believe that ‘winning’ is not worth living with constant fear and stress,
Ultimately, winning is not the most important thing. The most important thing is your own quality of life. If the harassment is overwhelming and relentless, make as big a change as necessary to get your life back. You can always re-emerge later when you’re in a stronger position.
Doxing and mass harassment can change a person’s life forever, but it’s your life and it will go on, so hang in there.
Gender Minorities Aotearoa, InsideOUT Kōaro, and Auckland Pride have together decided not to continue the Judicial Review against the Minister of Immigration for his decision to allow Posie Parker (Kellie Keen-Minshull) into Aotearoa.
While we continue to believe the Minister’s decision was unreasonable and unlawful, because Posie Parker posed a risk to public order, the damage has been done by Posie Parker’s visit and there would be a significant investment of time, resources, and potentially funds that would need to be put towards a Judicial Review that could take a considerable period of time to be determined.
We believe that Justice Gendall’s judgement on our urgent application for Interim Orders, while ultimately failing, was significant and sent a clear message from the High Court.
The Judge affirmed that Posie Parker presented a risk to Aotearoa’s rainbow communities, potentially the public order, and was aligned with far-right groups.
The Judge stated “It is not disputed Ms K-M’s views are harmful to minority communities. Nor is it disputed those communities are particularly vulnerable to harm and discrimination. They deserve protection, and harmful views must be condemned.”
Justice Gendall said “Had the Minister determined that Ms Keen-Minshull was likely to be a threat or risk to public order and therefore excluded from New Zealand for the reasons identified by the Applicants, it is also reasonably arguable that this would represent a justified limitation on her right to freedom of expression.”
He went on to say that “There are reasonable grounds to accept the Applicants’ argument that in a competing rights analysis, freedom of expression may in some circumstances, need to give way to the right of vulnerable communities to be free from discrimination.”
The Judge affirmed that the Minister of Immigration retained the ability at all times to prevent Posie Parker from entering the country under section 16 of the Immigration Act.
The Judge also affirmed that our case was properly brought, and was within our charitable purposes.
We took this case on to send a strong message to the Minister of Immigration that his failure to act was dangerous and would not go unchallenged. Our organisations refused to stand by while our communities were under threat, a decision justified by the alarming and demonstrable rise in hatred and disinformation directed towards trans and gender diverse people.
We are immensely grateful for the support from our community and allies for fundraising for our legal costs. Our costs relating to the case while not finalised are limited, and any additional funds raised will be split between our organisations to continue supporting, uplifting, and advocating for trans and gender diverse communities.
While this result is not what we hoped for, we’re so proud of our communities and the amazing show of support for transgender human rights, including multiple community groups coming together and organising protests, over 6,000 attendees at these events, media reports which recognised the situation well, and a massive swell in support from across the country. Kia kaha, kia māia, kia manawanui. We’re so impressed.
Hi everyone, we’re updating our website at the moment, and our new software has caused some problems with the display of posts and pages that contain embedded PDFs.
These pages probably look normal on a phone screen, as they’re usually just displayed as a download link on phones. However, on a computer or tablet, the PDF viewer may cut the bottom off the page.
We apologise for the inconvenience, and we’re working on it.
Our healthcare database is also being overhauled, as we switch from a ‘patient recommendation’ model to one where providers register. At the moment there are only a few healthcare providers on it and it looks a bit messy.
We’ve contacted the hundreds of providers we had on the old system, and hope to see them all registered soon. The front end (what you see when you look on the web page) should also be looking good again soon.
Again we apologise for the inconvenience, and hopefully very soon it will be fully functional and better than ever.
Thank you for your patience, and feel free to email us in the meantime if you need healthcare recommendations.
In 2022, ARC conducted a survey of transgender and intersex individuals and their experiences of seeking help as a victim/survivor of sexual violence and/or family violence.
There were four parts to the survey – a transgender community survey (carried out by Gender Minorities Aotearoa), an intersex community survey (carried out by Intersex Aotearoa), a survey of agencies and organisations whose main focus is sexual violence or family violence, and a survey of other services.
This report is our findings on the quantitative data for the transgender community survey, including respondents who selected both transgender and intersex.
In Aotearoa, trans people born overseas are usually stuck with the wrong sex marker on their identity documents. The government said they would look into developing a solution, but now it’s been put off indefinitely.
Most transgender asylum seekers, refugees, and many migrants do not have ID with their correct gender marker. This makes it difficult or impossible to access essential everyday services, including things like opening a bank account, and seeing a healthcare provider.
Refugee travel documents are not an acceptable substitute as most services do not recognise these.
Currently, it’s possible to apply to for a “Declaration as to sex” through the Family Court, which goes some of the way toward making identity documents, and accessing services, more equitable. However, that process will be taken away when the new administrative process for NZ birth certificates rolls out in June 2023.
The government said it would do some work to address this disparity, as it’s important that trans people with overseas birth certificates can still access accurate identity documents which they can use in NZ.
However, Department of Internal Affairs has now announced that this work is being deferred, and statements committing to doing this work have been removed from it’s website.
Rainbow refugee-led organisation Rainbow Path has put together a detailed post, outlining the issues as they stand, and what we can do to support this essential work to be done. Rainbow Path is leading the work on this, and we encourage everyone to follow their blog and social media and support their actions.
This year we worked together with T-Action, a transgender organisation in Russia, to bring you Russian translations of some important resources.
The resources are about healthy relationships with yourself and others. We are releasing these for Trans Day of Visibility, 31 March 2023 #TDoV.
Trans people in Russia are currently illegalised, and it is illegal to “promote” being transgender in Russia. This means that being visible poses very real danger to a trans person, and makes it incredibly hard for organisations like T-Action, which do similar advocacy to us at Gender Minorities Aotearoa.
Trans people cannot be visible without freedom from laws that criminalise us.
We stand together with trans people in every country where laws are hostile to trans existence. We are very grateful to T-Action for their continued work to support trans people, for reaching out to us, and for translating our resources.
We hope that these translations will benefit trans people in Russia, as well as Russian-speaking trans people in Aotearoa, and across the world.
Message from T-Action
Visibility is a form of empowerment.
We become stronger not only when we become visible to the cisworld, but also when some trans communities become visible to other trans communities.
On Transgender Day of Visibility, trans initiative group T-Action announce a precious collaboration with Gender Minorities Aotearoa. We proudly present you a Russian translation of resources from “The Transgender Guide to Sex and Relationships” – as translators Aleksandr Grin, Inga Grin and Anna Polyakova believe, one of the best materials on the web, created by trans people for trans people.
In a situation where any talk about transgender and sexuality is prohibited by outrageously unfair laws, an ability to access such materials is a necessity for Russian-speaking trans people. We are grateful for the opportunity to publish the translation on Gender Minorities Aotearoa website.
As we all continue to face challenges and discrimination, it is important to remember that we are not alone, the community is looking after us and ready to give us a place to belong, listen and help.
Despite the geographical distance and cultural differences, we can find common ground and work together toward a world where trans people are free to live, love, and thrive without fear of discrimination, rejection, or violence.
T-Action is the major trans organisation in Russia operating since 2014. Our mission is to empower transgender people, strengthen the trans community, and raise trans awareness and trans sensitivity in society.
In 9 years of its work, T-Action has made a “trans revolution” in health care services in Russia:
– Educated hundreds of medical doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other professionals about transgender physical and mental health.
– Conducted research projects about the life of trans people in Russia with medical institutions – that had never been done before.
– Changed perceptions and beliefs about transgender people in the Russian medical, media, and social field. Organized programs, research, and activities with professionals from different areas.
– Organized a Trans*Fest – a unique annual festival with educational events made by the community for the community (not for the people outside, as many trans-related events have to be). Each Trans*Fest is visited by hundreds of trans people throughout the country, both online and offline.
– Empowered many transgender people themselves to be proactive, to know, and to protect their rights.
In current times T-Action was declared a foreign agent and as a result, announced its liquidation. Instantly, a new group was founded with exactly the same goals and activities which works with and for so-called ‘kilkots’.
Within the trans community, Kilkot is a well-known mascot of our group – half-cat, half-fish, a kind of cat-mermaid – and our audience is well aware of it and associates it with us. This way, our audience easily understands the context, and, in the end, it’s just fun if we are accused of “propagating kilkotism”.
The kaupapa – or foundational principles and ideas – will help to determine who should be in the organising committee, what kind of event to run, how to promote the event, and how to ensure that the event is accessible, appropriate, and useful.
To determine the kaupapa of an event, ask yourself three foundational questions:
Who: what priority group(s) will the event serve?
Consider whether your event will prioritise a particular age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, immigration status, disability, parenthood status, occupation, or experience. Always put the people first.
Why: what need(s) will the event address?
Ask what has inspired this event – what is it that the priority group needs?
How: how will the event address these needs?
Ask how the event will meet those needs – for example, if the need is social connection/addressing isolation, then the event will need to create opportunities to make friends, or make meaningful connections. If the need is housing, or disability justice, then the event should work toward a goal based on that need.
The kaupapa is the foundation, so it’s important to allocate enough time to go through all the details of who and why, before moving on to how. This will help you build a picture of who should be on the organising committee, who should be welcome or not welcome at the event, whether it should be open invitation or if there needs to be a higher degree of risk management.
All members of the organising committee should be in agreement on the kaupapa.
Your organising committee
The organising committee should reflect the priority group. If it doesn’t, consider why you are organising for people whose communities you may not be a part of, and how appropriate it is to organise for or on behalf of a group to which you do not belong. Inclusion of organisers from the priority group must be meaningful, rather than tokenistic.
If it is still appropriate – for example, if you are older queer people organising for queer youth – then you need to do outreach to young queers and get them involved in the organising in meaningful ways: they have the expertise on their issues, even if you have the expertise in organising.
Within the organising committee
Strong systems are the key to effective organising, and systems must mitigate risk and be resilient to unexpected changes.
Sometimes organisers can’t make it to meetings, can’t be on time, or can’t follow through on tasks. A good system recognises this and has ways to make sure that everyone knows what is happening and that all tasks get done.
Accessibility of the committee
Consider disability needs. Many disabilities are invisible, so it’s important to ask everyone what they need to ensure they can attend meetings and carry out tasks.
Simple accessibility planning can include holding meetings in mobility accessible venues, limiting fluorescent lighting and the use of perfumes and other allergens, providing food that caters to everyone’s needs, making meetings accessible via online video conference, good facilitation and minutes in meetings, and taking turns to volunteer for childcare duties or providing financial support for childcare.
It can help to decide in advance where and when meetings will be held. This might be the first Saturday each month, every week on Tuesday, or some other regular time. If meetings will be held online, set up a recurring event on a video platform and make sure everyone has a link to this.
Having a good, clear template for taking minutes at meetings is important, along with a central place to keep the minutes where everyone can access them. This might be a shared folder in Google Drive or a book which is kept at a shared office. Use what works for everyone in the committee.
Decide at the beginning on what process will be used to make decisions, and stick to that process. This could be a matter of majority vote, unanimous consensus, or something else. Sometimes it helps to make a visual diagram or flowchart together, so everyone is clear on how decisions will be made – especially if there are any disagreements later. Remember to include a quorum (number or percent of the committee which must be present to make important decisions), and give more flexibility for simple decisions.
You can download our guide to using a consensus process here.
It’s important that the committee understands it’s financial position, and that there is no chance of money being misused, or accusations of financial mismanagement. If the group has a bank account it is best practice to require two signatories to make any payments from the account. If not, cash should be kept secure, and a clear record of income and expenses should be maintained.
By planning a budget early on, you’ll know how much funding you’ll need to carry out your event. Remember to factor in any koha or payments to performers, speakers, presenters, etc.
Self care and caring for each other
One of the most important parts of organising is to take care of yourselves and not over-commit. Everyone should be honest with themself and their co-organisers about how much capacity they have to contribute.
It’s important to create the opportunity for everyone to participate to the extent that they are able. It’s ok for some people to take on a lot of responsibility and for others to only take on a little bit.
Look after your well being and make sure that you and the other organisers have support and time out, and that you are kind to each other, communicate well, and check in regularly.
Let the committee know if you commit to something but later realise you can’t do it- feelings of being overwhelmed happen, and people can make adjustments.
Be kind to people, listen to them, disagree with them without putting them down as a person. Don’t gossip about people behind their backs and, above all, have empathy.
Where possible, receiving input from a wider group of people can help you to plan better events. Think carefully about tools that can be used to facilitate discussions and receive suggestions, such as feedback forms, hui, or private groups (in person or online).
Remember that some platforms – particularly on social media – are only accessible to people who have an account on the platform (e.g. Facebook). These often can’t be organised or searched in the same way as platforms which are designed for office use (e.g. Google Drive/forms/spreadsheets).
If you have organising discussions online, you need to be very security conscious, and ensure there is a robust process for who has access to that information.
Be aware that anything you put online could end up public.
It’s vital that your target audience is aware of your event, has a clear idea about what it will involve, why they should attend, and how they can access it.
Your marketing/advertising is your first point of contact with the world, so make sure that imagery reflects your objectives and the tone of the event. Choose strong messaging for your posters/social media/blog page. Your advertising should appeal to your priority group and reflect your kaupapa.
Ensure that your advertising includes important information: what’s happening, the time date and venue (if that’s public info), whether there is wheelchair access, food, childcare, and non-gendered bathrooms, and how to make contact or register to attend. People will exclude themselves when they are used to being marginalised and excluded, so events should be clear that they are inclusive.
Use plain common language; don’t use activist/industry/community jargon, and don’t use euphemisms.
Consider whether it’s appropriate for people to register before attending the event – the size of the venue and the resources available for food and other things might be determining factors in this. Other factors can include safety, limiting numbers, and whether participants need to meet a certain criteria (eg. are they part of the target group).
If people need to register, consider keeping the location off advertising and sending it directly to registered participants instead.
If it’s an open invitation with the address on the advertising, consider security risks – for example, if you throw an advertised party for young trans people, then it’s your responsibility to make sure no anti-trans campaigners show up and threaten the safety of participants.
A safer spaces policy – or SSP – is a bit like a non-discrimination policy and code of conduct. It is more commonly used for group than for an event, but sometimes events have these as well.
In Te Ao Māori we have kaupapa, tikanga, and kawa, which outline the foundational principles we expect to be upheld, and the specific behaviours we want to see or not see. This is a great approach to safer spaces.
A good safer space policy is one that tells people about the culture of the space, and encourages learning and self empowerment with community support. It should contain minimal jargon, and explain itself clearly in common language.
Many safer spaces policies have been written for and by white cisgender women with a view toward preventing sexual violence against themselves. This is a good goal, but it’s necessary to think more broadly and with more nuance about the people who need to be safe, what they need to be safe from, and how to go about promoting a culture that supports healthy and sustainable communities.
A SSP might include principles and behaviors in relation to racism, transphobia, fatphobia, ableism, transmisogyny, sexism, alcohol and other drug use, violence and self harm, and a number of other social justice and safety issues.
There may be a particular time when it is especially important to have an event – such as during Pride month, trans awareness week, or while a topic is particularly relevant. Consider whether there are other events that you don’t want to clash or compete with.
Make sure you have enough time to organise. Without an adequate time frame, you may need to limit your ambitions. Give yourself time to have committee meetings and do the ground work, and to contact and confirm anyone you would like to have attend; such as speakers, entertainers or presenters.
Allow time for event promotion, and give attendees enough time in advance so their calendar isn’t already full.
Accessibility of the event
Consider how cost might be a barrier for your event, and how mitigating this might be achieved. If it’s necessary to charge entry, consider a tiered pricing schedule, low cost tickets or sponsored tickets. If you need to raise funds in advance, make sure this is possible.
Choose a venue with good public transport access and easy parking. Choose a venue that will be comfortable for your audience – for example a marae feels very different to a conference centre.
The physical needs of attendees are important, some people need elevators etc for mobility. Other accessibility considerations include lighting (many people can’t be under fluorescent lighting), chemical sensitivity (some people struggle with strong smells like incense and cologne/perfume etc), noise and sound (can everyone hear the speakers, etc), places to sit down/lay down.
If your event seeks to include people whose first language may not be English, or D/deaf people, then having interpreters will make a big difference for their inclusion.
Carefully considering the layout, and having support people available can make your event more accessible to blind people. Using a large font in documents and presentations, and dyslexia friendly colours are also things you can do to remove physical barriers to people being included.
For overnight events you should consider proper beds for those who can’t sleep on a mattress or use a sleeping bag. Look for ways to better cater to people with larger bodies, and higher mobility needs, like providing a variety of types of seating, and seats set aside with easy access to the exits. Make it clear to people that these seats are reserved for people with mobility/access needs.
Consider whether your event is accessible for children, and for parents and families with childcare considerations. Childcare subsidies and child friendly spaces/activities/helpers will mean those families can attend without worrying about their children. The gendered division of caring labor is an important part of this as an accessibility concern.
In workshops/discussions have the MC or facilitator give a shout out to parents at the beginning of each session to say that kids are welcome and to remind speakers to just use a loud voice or speak into the microphone if there is any noise in the room. Make it comfortable and not a big deal.
Make sure your sound equipment is appropriate to the size of the room/crowd.
Look for venues with non-gendered bathrooms/changing rooms/sleeping spaces. If they aren’t available, work with your venue to modify what exists. Gender Minorities Aotearoa has non-gendered toilet posters available which can be used to cover gendered signs.
Any environment where bodies are a focus or semi/nakedness is expected will pose additional accessibility barriers for people whose bodies are often stigmatised. This can include stigma because of ethnicity, size, disability, gender etc. Careful consideration for mitigating risk and perceived risk are important.
Events such as pool parties can trigger a wide range of trauma issues, especially for people whose bodies are policed or othered routinely. For some, being casually naked in front of others may feel normal, or even empowering, however this won’t be the case for everyone.
People with more stigmatised bodies are more likely to opt for clothing or private stalls in bathrooms and dressing rooms, etc. It’s cool to feel amazing about showing your body. It’s also cool to keep it private if you want to.
Providing food can be a crucial part of your responsibilities as a host, and it also can make your event more accessible and interesting to more people. However, it can also be a big cost and a lot of work to do properly. If you are providing food, there are several things to cover.
Food is often a consideration that requires attendees to register, meaning you can ask each person about their dietary needs.
In general, it’s a good idea to provide gluten and lactose free options, options that suit vegetarians, vegans and also people who eat meat, halal, kosher, and a variety of other options. This must be done in ways which do not attach any value judgements to anyone’s diet. The only appropriate thing to say about someone else’s food is ‘Yum! that looks good’.
Make sure there is enough food. People should be able to have as much as they need without worrying about taking too much, and without being shamed by others.
Spaces designated for eating should be well thought through. Some people may not be comfortable eating around others, or in a noisy crowd, and appropriately spaced out or secluded eating areas can be a good idea.
Tikanga is an important consideration for serving food in Aotearoa; make sure that Māori hygiene is followed with regard to eating surfaces (as a general rule – no bums/feet/hats on tables, no kitchen cloths used to wipe floors or bodies, kitchen laundry should be washed separately, don’t make table cloths from used sheets).
Bear in mind that there are HEAPS of issues around food/eating/not eating for HEAPS of different reasons and try to make it non-stressful/not a big deal while providing options – casually. Don’t make a big deal about people with eating or food issues, make it work without added stress to them.
It’s important to think about the cultural ways people can be marginalised, and how leaning too much into the dominant culture can create barriers to attending.
We live in a context where all of our cultural assumptions and norms have an extensive and often violent history. Many things which seem commonplace or normal within the dominant culture – Pākehā, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied; are actually harmful. For an event to be truly inclusive and effective, it’s important to be aware of these factors, and challenge racism, Eurocentrism, colonisation, transphobia, transmisogyny, heteronormativity, sexism and ableism.
For example, events about gendered violence that centre the perspectives of Pākehā, able bodied, cisgender women leave a lot of women out of the conversation. Not only is this a problem for inclusiveness and working together in solidarity, but it also means the analysis that results from the event is much weaker and less useful.
The more diverse the input into organising the event, the more likely that the event will cater to a diverse range of people and perspectives, and will attract a diverse crowd. More diversity means better results.
This guide is being released for Transgender Day of Visibility 2023. #TDoV #TDoV2023 #TransDayofVisibility #TransDayofVisibility2023 #TransgenderDayofVisibility #TransgenderDayofVisibility2023