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Nevertheless, Fen coded and found their people.

Fen Slattery on March 08, 2019

Hi, I'm Fen, my pronouns are they/them. I'm a nonbinary trans person, and although I'm not a woman, I'm writing this on International Women's Day... [Read Full]
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"But in our eagerness to create "women in tech" spaces, so many people have decided that if you're not a man, then you're a woman. And all women share some fundamental experiences, the same suffering. And if you're ever had those experiences, then you're pretty much a woman. If you've ever suffered for being "not a man", then you're a woman, right?"

BOY DO I EVER FEEL THIS. Honestly in some ways -- I'd strongly prefer to be in LGBTQ tech spaces, but if not that, women (and non-binary, but let's all be honest: they're for women) in tech events often feel more hostile than general tech events.

 

Agreed. I've been to several women in tech spaces that have a veneer of inclusivity, but will treat the audience as if it's entirely composed of white women. This will lead to things like the organizers instructing the room on how to respond if "you" accidentally use a racial slur, or "you" misgender someone, as if the people who are harmed by these actions are outside the room. The women in tech space can have a very "just between us girls," feel to it that feels very middle-school-cliquey, with in groups and out groups, and I'm just not here for that.

I'm not a woman as in "yes she can!" I'm nonbinary as in "can you just let them get back to work?" There's a big difference there.

I have no idea how much sense this even makes. I just have a lot of feels today on top of a very long week.

 

I just don't go to events and when I do I don't speak to anyone usually! 🙃

 

that is also a very very solid solution haha

 
 

There's something I don't really understand here with regard to some points you've raised about women only spaces in tech, and hopefully, it doesn't come across as rude to ask.

I absolutely understand you underlining that you aren't a woman, you don't want to be referred to as one of the girls. What I don't understand then is why "whenever a new women in tech event was announced, I was always the one to politely ask if it would be a safe and welcoming place for... nonbinary people."

Are you saying you're asking to be included in an event that's designated as one for women only? I don't really understand why you'd do that if you don't identify as a woman. Or are you more saying that you were asking whether the event was more of an "everyone who isn't a man" event rather than a "women only" event as the two are conflated so much?

 

I'm not sure why you'd think I'd want to be included in a women-only space if I'm not a woman. Specifically in the context of that sentence, I was describing an action I did when I did thought I was a cis woman. And yes, now when I ask, it's to clarify who is actually welcome in the space, since most of the time organizers do intend to include everyone who isn't a man.

 

So I misinterpreted your wording, I thought you when you said: "I was always the one to politely ask if it would be a safe and welcoming place for... nonbinary people", you were REQUESTING that women-only spaces include non-binary people rather than asking for clarification as to whether they were intended to include them.

Possibly you're asking as to why I would misinterpret it that way in the first place. I've seen other non-binary people use terms such as "woman aligned", "lesbian", or even "non-binary woman" to describe themselves, so I know that some non-binary people are not necessarily women, but identify with and relate to womanhood. At the same time, everything else you said seemed to suggest you don't identify with womanhood at all, which was where I got confused. Obviously, you do not need to account for or defend any identity or viewpoint (including your own), I've just written that to explain why I thought you could want to be included in such a space as you said you were not sure why I would think that.

Anyway, I understand now what you meant after reading your reply. Thanks for writing back and explaining :)

 

it took literally one "women in ____ tech" event when i started school recently to have it devolve into a complete bioessentialist/genitalia-obsessed mess, and put me off hyper-women-"inclusive"-spaces. same red flag to me as using the phrase "women and femmes" while trying to appear inclusive. guess it was good i got the lesson early on in my tech journey? veeeeery discouraging tho.

anyway, i'm so glad (and relieved!) to know i'm stepping into a world with people like you <3

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