Last year, We Are Union Women released their diversity statement, which the AEU Women’s Program is keen to embrace. It reads:
Because our diversity is our strength – we welcome women of all age, size, colour, race, sexuality, identity, religion, and culture.
We include all women, cis and trans, and we recognise the many non-binary folx who share our experiences of being harmed by the patriarchy.
Because our solidarity is our power – we welcome all who stand with us. Prejudice and discrimination have no place in our movement. We know that exclusion and division are tactics used to keep us distracted, to pit us against each other.
Our fight is too urgent, too important for us to be divided – we fight together because we all want the same: to be Safe, Respected and Equal.
Why do we need this?
The union movement took the initiative to listen and respond to a diverse range of members. The overwhelming feedback was that members want an inclusive, safe community in which they can choose where and how they participate.
Is ‘folx’ a typo?
The dominant cultural understanding of ‘folks’ relates to the binary of men and women. ‘Folx’ is intended to be more gender inclusive, and acknowledges that sometimes we unknowingly use language that oppresses others.
Why ‘preferred pronoun’?
No one is required to share information about their identity. But when cisgender people add their pronouns, e.g. ‘she/her’, to their email signatures, it helps protect trans and gender diverse people by normalising ‘preferred pronouns’ and signalling that you are an LGBTQIA+ ally. Including pronouns is riskier for transgender and gender diverse people, as it may prompt unwanted questions.
Is this union business?
Respecting and taking care of each other, challenging and standing up to prejudice, bigotry and discrimination, are core union actions and values.
For many AEU members, gender inequality in the workplace may be compounded by other forms of disadvantage or discrimination. Inclusive language matters. For some, their lives will depend on it.
Recent years have been among the most challenging for those affected by gendered violence and inequality. The Morrison government’s inaction on sexual harassment, climate change and public health have stretched us to our limits. I urge all women and folx to remember what we’ve witnessed, and the possibilities for a more positive future, when we cast our vote in this year’s federal election.