Blog > TBTN: Gender Inclusion

TBTN: Gender Inclusion

September 1, 2022

This year as a SACHA col­lec­tive we have made the deci­sion for Take Back the Night to wel­come and include peo­ple of all gen­ders. We under­stand that, his­tor­i­cal­ly, Take Back The Night has been held for women and chil­dren, and that as Hamil­ton has con­tin­ued to come togeth­er for this annu­al ral­ly, the lan­guage has grown to women and non-bina­ry folks. It is through this lens that we are rec­om­mend­ing a shift with­in Take Back The Night to include all sur­vivors, all peo­ple can­not walk at night with­out the fear of being a tar­get of street harass­ment, and our allies.

We know that his­tor­i­cal­ly there has been a rea­son for the space to be lim­it­ed to only women (and non-bina­ry peo­ple). In a world where men hold so much pow­er has been an act of resis­tance to have one night where women (and lat­er includ­ing non-bina­ry peo­ple) have cen­ter stage. While we rec­om­mend this change we still under­stand what led to these deci­sions in the past and will con­tin­ue to work to pri­or­i­tize the voic­es of peo­ple at high­est risk for sex­u­al vio­lence and street harassment. 

Take Back The Night is not just about sur­vivors of sex­u­al vio­lence reclaim­ing streets, but also intend­ed to cen­ter the peo­ple who are at risk of sex­u­al vio­lence and street harass­ment, and whose activ­i­ties might be lim­it­ed by these threats. We believe that it is also impor­tant to cen­ter the voic­es of those who face the most bar­ri­ers and have the least access to rel­e­vant ser­vices. These voic­es include women but also trans, gen­derqueer, non-bina­ry, gen­der-diverse, Two Spir­it, and inter­sex people. 

In the con­text of the anti-sex­u­al vio­lence move­ment, the his­tor­i­cal con­tri­bu­tion made by sur­vivors with inter­sect­ing iden­ti­ties can­not always be cap­tured with­in the lan­guage of women and non-bina­ry folks. We rec­og­nize the crit­i­cism that the fem­i­nist move­ment has exclud­ed trans, gen­derqueer, non-bina­ry, Two Spir­it, and inter­sex sur­vivors, as valid. Enclos­ing the myr­i­ad iden­ti­ties of sur­vivors with­in a catch all phrase does not always feel like true sol­i­dar­i­ty and can uphold the alien­ation of many sur­vivors with­in anti-sex­u­al vio­lence spaces. We believe that strength­en­ing the move­ment to end vio­lence must mean that the voic­es of all sur­vivors are lift­ed up to our table.

We know that in Hamil­ton com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, par­tic­u­lar­ly those in the Two-Spir­it and LGBTQIA+ com­mu­ni­ty have faced bar­ri­ers to safe atten­dance at TBTN. There have been instances where folks whose gen­der aligns with the para­me­ters of the event have been ques­tioned by oth­ers attend­ing about their par­tic­i­pa­tion because of the (mis)gendering of their bod­ies and/​or their gen­der expres­sion. We have also been told by com­mu­ni­ty mem­ber that they do not feel safe to come out at all because of the heav­i­ly gen­dered lan­guage that doesn’t allow for the diver­si­ty of non-bina­ry expe­ri­ences. In order to show true sol­i­dar­i­ty to Two-Spir­it, trans, non-bina­ry, inter­sex and gen­der-diverse peo­ple we hope that ungen­der­ing the event will help to make spaces safer for folks who would oth­er­wise be ques­tioned or harassed for attending. 

Addi­tion­al­ly we rec­og­nize that folks who do not expe­ri­ence oppres­sion on the basis of gen­der can still be at high­er risk for sex­u­al vio­lence and street harass­ment when look­ing at oth­er forms of oppres­sion. This can include (cis) men and boys who are Indige­nous, dis­abled, queer, unhoused, and more. To be able to make TBTN a space that demands safe­ty for all peo­ple and pri­or­i­tizes an inter­sec­tion­al under­stand­ing of sex­u­al vio­lence and street harass­ment these voic­es need to be includ­ed and feel safe and wel­come to march and reclaim space. 

In addi­tion to under­stand­ing that even regard­less of expe­ri­ence of oppres­sion, all peo­ple, of all gen­ders, can and do expe­ri­ence sex­u­al vio­lence and street harass­ment. No one should have to feel alone after they’ve expe­ri­enced this trau­ma, and to be in a space where peo­ple of all gen­ders can come togeth­er in com­mu­ni­ty is a pow­er­ful thing. For many we know that hav­ing a crowd of sur­vivors and allies of all gen­ders will­ing to stand along­side you as you march can be a mean­ing­ful way to know that you are not alone. It is togeth­er as a com­mu­ni­ty that we will end sex­u­al vio­lence and we all have a role to play to help us get there. 

We are aware that these changes may come with some a lot of feel­ings for folks who have been attend­ing the event for many years. We want to stress that the essence of TBTN will still be there. We are still root­ed in our his­to­ry and inspired by the decades of love that have gone into this event, but as we now have grown to new under­stand­ings of what TBTN can be we hope you be a part of the evo­lu­tion and rev­o­lu­tion of TBTN