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06 April 2011 @ 12:18 pm
make collection policy explicitly trans inclusive  
Despite what I wrote in my last post here, since our new Barnard hosted blog doesn't allow comments, we will occasionally need to have discussions here on LiveJournal or elsewhere. (btw note that we're also on Facebook with no log in required and Twitter)

Today's query is similar to one I posted in 2008 about adding zines on femme identity by people of all genders to our collection development policy. The revised policy states:

Barnard's zines are written by New York City and other urban women with an emphasis on zines by women of color. We collect zines on feminism and femme identity by people of all genders. A woman's gender is self-defined. The zines are personal and political publications on activism, anarchism, body image, third wave feminism, gender, parenting, queer community, riot grrrl, sexual assault, and other topics.

I now propose that we add in language to make explicit that we include zines by transgender authors in any state of presentation, identity, or transition. Anyone who has ever identified or been identified as a woman's zines will be informed by that identification and is therefore in scope for our collection.

But of course I am not trans, am not a gender studies expert, and am prone as anyone to write something incorrect or even insulting even as I try to do the right thing. So...I'm looking for help in crafting a new version of our collection statement. Please share your comments and suggestions on Facebook, LiveJournal, Twitter, via email or by any other method you can think of.

I'm also considering removing the first part of the statement, as the NYC and urban emphases haven't proved to be as important as I'd anticipated. Here's a draft: 
 
Barnard's zines are written by women and people of all transgender expression with an emphasis on zines by women and trans of color. We collect zines on feminism and femme identity by people of all genders. A woman's gender is self-defined. The zines are personal and political publications on activism, anarchism, body image, third wave feminism, gender, parenting, queer community, riot grrrl, sexual assault, and other topics.

Comment on it, or share a new one of your own!

Thanks, Jenna
 
 
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous) on April 6th, 2011 05:06 pm (UTC)
initial thoughts
hey Jenna - I appreciate your pro-active move on updating the policy, and your upfront acknowledgement of the learning curve. As I'm sure you know, trans folks are constantly moving forward in unraveling cissexism and transphobia, and the language is always racing to keep up with that!

That said, I am posting some initial comments below in brackets. I am going to post this to a thoughtful trans discussion list and see what people propose and get back to you.

----
Barnard's zines are written by women and transgender people [note: preferrable to "people of all transgender expression", since not all trans people view their gender as an "expression"] with an emphasis on zines by women and trans people of color [note: don't use trans by itself as a noun!].

We collect zines on feminism and femme identity by people of all genders. [note: this doesn't seem to be right, since you don't collect zines on femme identity by cisgender men (men who are not trans), for example.]

A woman's gender is self-defined.
[note: hmm, everyone's gender should be self-defined, not just women. I wonder if this sentence is being included in order to reaffirm the inclusion of trans women given the history of specific cissexism in feminist movements? if so, I think there is a better way of saying it...]

The zines are personal and political publications on activism, anarchism, body image, third wave feminism, gender, parenting, queer community, riot grrrl, sexual assault, and other topics.
[given the revised policy's emphasis on trans inclusion, and the fact that 'queer' does not include 'trans', you might add "trans community" or "transgender issues" to the list.]

And here's a recent trans 101 doc that may be helpful: https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AcHP5xGhVLvmZGRnY3RocWdfMHc4ZHpza2c3&hl=en

xo
Micah
Barnard Zine Collection: jennabarnardzines on April 7th, 2011 02:52 pm (UTC)
Re: initial thoughts
Hi Micah,

Thanks for your thoughts and getting the word out!

Responding to your bracketed points:

We actually do collect zines on feminism and femme identity by people of all genders, e.g., Said the Kettle to the Pot: Feminist Theory for Anarchist Men.

"A woman's gender is self-defined." I'm bummed that that line is problematic. I think a lot of us were proud of it as it evolved in the previous collection policy discussion. :) I see your point. I think in the old context of zines by women it did work better than it does in the new proposed policy, so thanks for that.

Adding an explicit reference to trans in the last sentence seems appropriate, so thanks for that, too.
raynorgrace on April 6th, 2011 05:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this question and I'm very interested in the outcome. Our zine policy isn't explicit, but we usually say we collect zines by "girls, women, and woman-identified people" (and then mutter something about collecting transgender-themed/authored zines, and also having zines by men that were collected by our donors and we didn't weed out. We would love to update our website too to more accurately reflect the gender diversity in our collection.
-Kelly @ the Bingham Ctr
nodesignationnodesignation on April 6th, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC)
If I could offer some friendly advice, a lot of folks find "woman-identified people" to be pretty insulting and dismissive. It's basically like telling trans women, "You're not really women, but we recognize that you believe you are, so we're going to humor you."

It's true that "girls and women" should automatically include trans girls and trans women in addition to cis girls and cis women, but like I pointed out below, a lot of people won't make the assumption that you intend to include trans women.

So I would suggest something like "a trans inclusive collection of zines by girls or women" or the extremely direct "girls and women including trans girls and trans women" or if you're up for doing some education, include the word "cis" so as to give it balance.

But since you are already including zines by men, you may want to rethink what you want your collection to be in addition to what you want to call it. Perhaps focusing on topic rather than the demographics of the authors. It could simply be called the "feminist zine collection," or the "gender and sexuality zine collection."
raynorgrace on April 7th, 2011 12:06 am (UTC)
Thanks for your feedback-- it was certainly not our intention to be dismissive by using that language, but rather to point out that we are open to zines by people who identify themselves as being transgendered. Your suggestions are all really helpful for clarifying that point with more inclusive, supportive, and accurate language.

One of the issues is that our collection really started as being just of zines by women & girls written in the 1990s, and then expanded beyond that, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not, without us rephrasing how we describe our contributors or the evolving nature of the collection.
nodesignationnodesignation on April 7th, 2011 01:18 am (UTC)
Thanks and good luck.
Barnard Zine Collectionbarnardzines on April 7th, 2011 03:05 pm (UTC)
Dear nodesignation,

Thanks for the language tips! I like the sound of "trans inclusive collection..." I'm also fine with using cis. What's your suggestion for working that in? "cis and trans girls and women..."?

You've given me a lot to think about with feminist vs. women's zine collection. I'd love to get other people's reactions to that. I think feminist doesn't tell the whole story because many of the zines aren't explicitly or even implicitly feminist. So "women's and feminist"?

In that same vein, our current collection wouldn't be most accurately described as "gender and sexuality" focused.

Now I'm wondering if we wouldn't be straying too far from our initial mission by collecting zines by trans men (other than on feminism & femme identity)? Reactions to that idea?

btw My current practice with zines by trans men that I receive in donated collections (I don't currently seek zines by trans men) is to write to the publisher, share our collection development policy, and ask him whether or not it's okay to keep the zine in our collection. This discussion was launched after one such exchange via Facebook messages.
nodesignationnodesignation on April 6th, 2011 10:01 pm (UTC)
I was pointed here by another discussion and wanted to mention a few things that could be useful.

First, can you clarify if you currently collect zines by femme men or plan to? Your above phrasing seems to indicate that you have been. If that's already the case, then it doesn't seem like you need a whole statement about including trans zinesters. Trans women should already be covered because they are women, and trans men writing about feminism and/or femme identity should already be covered as well (you're not writing a new policy just to include men who are not writing about feminism, are you?). It might be more pertinent to add "trans experience" to the list topics you already have.

Additionally, try to avoid phrasing of "women and trans." Think for a moment if you were to state "women and blacks" or "women and lawyers" and so forth. By switching from gender to another category, it subtly implies that there's no overlap between the two. In this case, it emphasizes your inclusion of trans men and de-emphasizes inclusion of trans women. It makes me wonder, does the collection currently include any zines by trans women? Are outreach attempts for trans zines overemphasizing zines by trans men?

In your proposed phrasing, you could avoid the issue by changing "women and trans of color" to "people of color" or "zinesters of color."

Also, due to historical trans-misogyny, not everyone will assume that you intend to include trans women unless you state it specifically. Instead of "...written by women and transgender people" preferred phrasing might be "...written by women, both cis and trans, and transgender people of all other genders."

However, there's still a problem here that's not the phrasing, but the policy. The new statement makes it seem as if it is an everyone-but-cis-men policy, which is fairly problematic. Wether it is your intent or not, it creates the suggestion that trans men are being included because they are an offshoot experience of women. It's also weird to maintain an emphasis on being women only - with one exception for certain types of men.

Again, if the issue is not how someone identifies but their experiences of misogyny, like the phrasing "We collect zines on feminism and femme identity by people of all genders" implies, then that's an entirely different matter and seems much more appropriate.

It's hard to offer advice on the best way to word the policy when it's still not clear what the goal of the policy is.
Barnard Zine Collection: jennabarnardzines on April 28th, 2011 05:13 pm (UTC)
caught in an undertow
Hi Everyone,

I apologize for not responding yet to all of the comments, suggestions, and criticism you have so helpfully offered. I will as soon as I can. I've just been caught in an undertow--maybe even more than one, with other work issues (talks, new librarian interviews, annual reporting) taking precedence over my beloved zine collection.

More soon(ish)!

Jenna
Barnard Zine Collection: jennabarnardzines on June 13th, 2011 03:18 pm (UTC)
new version
Hi Everyone,

I truly apologize for going off-radar for so long. Based on people's contributions (and I seriously apologize for not reading it carefully the first time through and continuing to use "trans" as a noun!), this is where I'm at with the policy:

"Barnard's zines are written by cis- and transgender women with an emphasis on zines by women of color. We collect zines on feminism and femme identity by people of all genders. The zines are personal and political publications on activism, anarchism, body image, third wave feminism, gender, parenting, queer community, riot grrrl, sexual assault, transgender issues, and other topics."

Is that first bit still awkward? Should the (cis- and transgender) be parenthetical and after the word "women"? Would "women of all gender expressions" be better? Or should we just leave "women" alone, expecting it to be understood that "women" means all women?

You'll note that is is less inclusive than I envisioned in my first post. I do think our collection should remain primarily a women's zine collection (rather than women and transgender)--to include zines by all women and by people who identified/presented/were seen as women at the time of publishing but may not now.

I'm not 100% committed to that position, though, if people want to push back.
Anna Cory-WatsonAnna Cory-Watson on June 15th, 2011 05:55 pm (UTC)
Re: new version
I like this new version. I think the inclusion of all women (and the exclusion of men except on a case-by-case basis) makes sense for the collection.

I like nodesignation's recommendation of the phrasing "trans experience" rather than "transgender issues." I also prefer the way the first sentence reads with the (cis and trans) in parentheses. I also like the way it de-emphasizes the inclusion, which I think *should* be assumed. Duh, we collect zines written by transwomen. We said "women" didn't we???

Barnard's zines are written by women (cis- and transgender) with an emphasis on zines by women of color. We collect zines on feminism and femme identity by people of all genders. The zines are personal and political publications on activism, anarchism, body image, third wave feminism, gender, parenting, queer community, riot grrrl, sexual assault, trans experience, and other topics.
loiscrumleyloiscrumley on September 8th, 2013 08:55 am (UTC)
really nice
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )