Inclusion but not for thee

Jo Bartosch wonders “why the University of Leicester’s Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) has developed guidance on ‘trans-inclusive practice’.”

It does sound odd, doesn’t it. What “practice”? In what way do museums and galleries have any “practice” with regard to “inclusion”? I don’t want museums exerting any “practice” on me, I just want to walk around them seeing what there is to see.

There is a need for inclusive practice when it comes to people with disabilities – they don’t want to put stairs in people’s way, for instance. But there’s nothing about being trans that would require special “inclusive” arrangements. Neutral toilets maybe? One sad little neutral toilet for the occasional gender-haver?

Last week, a ‘Trans-Inclusive Culture’ document was published by the RCMG, backed by high-profile organisations and heartily endorsed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The aim is apparently to enable cultural institutions to be ‘more ambitious and confident in advancing trans inclusion’. To do this, they should supposedly bring ‘clarity, common sense, pragmatism and ethics to a debate that is too often distorted by misinformed, highly charged and polarised viewpoints’.

In aid of what though? Are the curators going to stop curating and instead wander around the museums and galleries all day looking for trans people to include and patronize?

I’m afraid it looks terribly performative and not at all useful. It’s basically just an exercise in “We’re on the right side, don’t shout at us, shout at those evil feminist women instead of at us.”

Ironically, the document itself reads as highly charged and polarising. With the chilling fervour of obedient Soviet citizens, the authors argue that Britain’s cultural institutions are spaces where ‘we can manifest and model inclusion and equity’. It is clear that those who hold the keys to our collective heritage do not simply want to present visitors with engaging exhibits. They also want to tell them what to think.

How would one go about modeling inclusion and equity in a museum? Rush up to people who look trans and give them massive hugs?

The RCMG advises that museums and galleries ensure their ‘allyship and support for the trans community is permanently visible’. It goes further than promoting the use of ‘gender-inclusive language’ and tells cultural organisations that they should be ready to defend themselves against potential gender-critical protests by ‘preparing clear and unequivocal public statements of support for trans-inclusive programming’. Institutions should ‘nurture and value’ ‘partnerships with trans communities and staunchly defend them in the event of any negative public or media criticism’.

Ohhh, I see. That’s what they’re up to. It’s not about being inclooosive, it’s about joining the crowds monstering feminist women. How very enlightened.

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