Guidance on trans-inclusive practice in museums, galleries, archives and heritage sites has been published by the University of Leicester.
The Trans-Inclusive Culture document, which has the backing of a wide range of cultural organisations including the Museums Association, is designed to help museums, galleries, archives and heritage sites be more ambitious and confident in advancing trans inclusion.
The University of Leicester’s Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) worked with a team of legal scholars and experts in inclusion, equality and ethics to develop the guidance. The work was carried out in the context of growing uncertainty and anxiety surrounding this topic, and a statement from the university says the aim is “to bring clarity, common sense, pragmatism and ethics to a debate that is too often distorted by misinformed, highly charged and polarised viewpoints”.
Richard Sandell, co-director of RCMG, said: “Trans-Inclusive Culture intervenes in what has become a highly-charged debate by offering very straightforward, precise and deeply researched guidance to address the uncertainty and anxiety that many cultural organisations are experiencing. The backing of so many culture sector bodies clearly shows how significant this issue is for the sector and highlights the need for museums, galleries, heritage and archives to be more ambitious in their trans-inclusive practice.”
Liz Ellis, National Lottery Heritage Fund policy project manager, said: “The National Lottery Heritage Fund is delighted to endorse this new guidance on Trans Inclusive Culture. As the largest funder for the UK’s heritage, we know that across the cultural sector, wide ranging cultural organisations and creative industries want to achieve inclusion, wider access and put equity at the core of a sustainable sector. This guidance is timely and relevant across the UK and internationally.”
A range of cultural organisations have been reaching out to the university seeking guidance around trans inclusion. This has included requests for advice on how to build understanding and support with staff and stakeholders; how to ethically share trans stories from collections with visitors; and how to defend the organisation’s trans-inclusive commitment in the face of complaints and protests.
The guidance, intended primarily for anyone working with or in museums, galleries, archives and heritage, sets out an ethical framework to support cultural organisations to advance all aspects of trans inclusion. It explains key components of UK law, as well as some of the limitations and complexities of the law. It explains how organisations can:
- develop trans-inclusive displays, events and public programming
- generate a trans-inclusive organisational culture
- provide a warm welcome to (and ensure the safety of) trans visitors
- work with trans communities to advance trans inclusion
The guidance draws on more than 130 responses to a confidential survey that invited cultural organisations to share the challenges they were encountering in their daily work.
Suzanne MacLeod, co-director of RCMG, said: “The guidance brings together leading-edge scholarship and expertise around ethics, the law, trans inclusion and equality to create guidance that can address a pressing need across the cultural sector. The first of its kind, Trans Inclusive-Culture shares actions and strategies that will equip staff, volunteers, freelancers, leaders and trustees to work together to positively impact the experiences of trans individuals and communities.”
The guidance, which is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, also includes a series of scenarios with practical strategies and solutions designed to build skills, knowledge and confidence for anyone working in this area.
Other sector organisations supporting the guidance include the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions; Heritage Alliance; Association of Independent Museums; Kids in Museums; Archives and Records Association; and International Council of Museums UK.
Trans Inclusive Culture: Guidance on Advancing Trans Inclusion for Museums, Galleries, Archives and Heritage Organisations has been developed by MacLeod, Sandell, Sharon Cowan, E-J Scott, Cesare Cuzzola and Sarah Plumb.