Culture sector backs trans inclusion guidance for museums, galleries, archives and heritage

University of Leicester experts are behind ground-breaking new guidance which will support museums, galleries, archives and heritage organisations to be more ambitious and confident in advancing trans inclusion.

In the context of growing uncertainty and anxiety surrounding this topic, the University’s Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) – working with a team of legal scholars and experts in inclusion, equality and ethics – has developed the comprehensive guidance to bring clarity, common sense, pragmatism and ethics to a debate that is too often distorted by misinformed, highly charged and polarised viewpoints.

In recent months, numerous cultural organisations have reached out to the University seeking guidance around trans inclusion, for example around 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

Drawing on over 130 responses to a confidential survey inviting cultural organisations to share the challenges they were encountering in their daily work, the guidance also includes a series of scenarios with practical strategies and solutions designed to build skills, knowledge and confidence for anyone working in this area.

The development of the guidance was funded via the Economic and Social Research Council. It is freely available to download from the RCMG website.

Trans-inclusive Culture: Guidance on advancing trans inclusion for museums, galleries, archives and heritage organisations is supported by a raft of influential sector bodies. Collectively these bodies represent and advocate for thousands of museums, galleries, archives and heritage organisations and culture professionals and they set standards, develop advice and guidance that is used by staff, volunteers, freelancers, trustees and cultural leaders across the UK and internationally to create inclusive experiences for many millions of visitors. These include the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), the Heritage Alliance, the Museums Association, the Association of Independent Museums, Kids in Museums, the Archives and Records Association; and ICOM UK (International Council of Museums UK).

Professor Suzanne MacLeod, co-director of RCMG comments; ‘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’.

Professor Richard Sandell, co-director of RCMG comments; ‘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.’