Learning how to use inclusive gender language and personal pronouns for my organization while making it a part of my everyday language is challenging. However, I know that in doing so I am respecting people and creating an inclusive environment. I am striving to make sure the individuals I have designed my program for are not left out of our language and content. I want to ensure that those who want to support and help our organization don’t feel excluded as well.
If you check our page periodically you will notice changes are constantly being made to our gender language, content, and even our mission statement. This is not a static organization, meaning I do not want to create something that isn’t able to be constantly in a state of growth, always expanding with the inherent ability to be adaptable and roll with progression.
My intention and desire is to build, learn, change and repeat the process. Using my creative energy and the practice of keeping an open mind, while expanding and growing Horticulture For Healing I will remain open to change as I continuously edit and alter content. Expanding gender language within my content shows respect, intersectionality and inclusiveness of Horticulture For Healing.
At first, I found myself standing only for women in early recovery from substance use. However, as we started partnering with different recovery and transition centers, I discovered each center also included many genders. I quickly realized that we aren’t only reaching cisgender women and girls, we are reaching trans women and girls, non binary people and intersex people as well. I am now learning that there is a need to specifically tailor and design each workshop and Care Kits for the specific center and individuals at that center.
I began to edit my content learning how to include everyone who we support without accidentally turning the people away whose support we need.
Using gender language and personal pronouns is still a very new concept to a lot of society. Expanding personal pronouns and gender language is a way to combat gender inequality and gender oppression while learning how to have sometimes uncomfortable and confusing conversations with people who are unfamiliar with gender language. I recently realized that for people who are unaware of the gender identities we list and want to support us may think this organization is not for them and will turn away after reading our mission statement. Which until recently listed who we support: trans women and girls, cis women and girls, non binary and intersex individuals.
A few examples of how our language has changed over the past 8 months:
8 months ago: We empower women to claim their beauty and power while in substance use treatment through the practice of horticulture.
6 months ago: Our horticultural and EcoFeminist workshops establish the significance of caring for plants in early [substance abuse] recovery while lightly introducing Ecofeminism to women who otherwise may not have the opportunity to experience and conjure the inherent connection to nature we all possess. (still using the word women)
December 27th 2020: Our mission is to empower individuals who embrace the feminine spirit, trans women and girls, cis women and girls, and non binary and intersex individuals to begin claiming they/theirs/her/hers beauty, value, space, and power while in residential substance use treatment centers, women and girl’s centers, transitional housing residencies, and shelters.
December 30th 2020: Our mission is to foster empowerment and support for oppressed genders to begin claiming their beauty, value, space, and power while in residential substance use treatment centers, women and girl’s centers, and transitional housing residencies. We do this through horticultural, self care, and feminist workshops.
This week: Through horticultural, self care and feminist workshops, we provide support and resources for marginalized* genders who are beginning to claim their beauty, value, space and power while in recovery at residential substance use treatment, women and girl’s centers and transitional housing residencies.
Until I decide to make our mission statement gender neutral I will use “marginalized genders” (this includes everyone other than cis men).
*When using the word marginalized I am referring to individuals treated as insignificant or in the peripheral of society by a patriarchal society, substance use, life hardships, and gender inequality.
Of course using the phrase “everyone but cisgender men” in our mission statement and content doesn’t exactly help include people (cisgender men gay and straight) who we absolutely need support from and who have already supported us thus far! On our Who We Are page I have explained this in detail for our supporters and anyone who is interested and unsure about becoming a part of the Horticulture For Healing community.
Horticulture For Healing’s gender identity list:
Transgender (women and girls): a gender description for someone who has transitioned (or is transitioning) from living as one gender to another. 2 adj. : an umbrella term for anyone whose sex assigned at birth and gender identity do not correspond in the expected way (e.g., someone who was assigned male at birth, but does not identify as a man).
Intersex people: term for a combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs, and genitals that differs from the two expected patterns of male or female. Formerly known as hermaphrodite (or hermaphroditic), but these terms are now outdated and derogatory.
Non binary people: is used to describe people who feel their gender cannot be defined within the margins of gender binary. Instead, they understand their gender in a way that goes beyond simply identifying as either a man or woman.Some non-binary people may feel comfortable within trans communities and find this is a safe space to be with others who don’t identify as cis, but this isn’t always the case.
Cisgender (women and girls) : a gender description for when someone’s sex assigned at birth and gender identity correspond in the expected way (e.g., someone who was assigned male at birth, and identifies as a man). The word cisgender can also be shortened to “cis.”
Using someone’s correct personal pronouns and expanding gender language is a way to respect them and create an inclusive environment, just as using a person’s name can be a way to respect them. Just as it can be offensive or even harassing to make up a nickname for someone and call them that nickname against their will, it can be offensive or harassing to guess at someone’s pronouns and refer to them using those pronouns if that is not how that person wants to be known. Or, worse, actively choosing to ignore the pronouns someone has stated that they go by could imply the oppressive notion that intersex, transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people do not or should not exist.
Gender oppression is an effect of the social process of gender relations that institutionalize and reproduce certain norms of gender to privilege the dominant group and marginalize, exclude, or cause other harm to the oppressed group. Feminism can be a solution to the injustices folks of all genders face.
We need all people to make this organization a success and carry out our mission. We absolutely *do not* want to exclude anyone from the Horticulture For Healing community. If we don’t take the time and learn gender pronouns, language and intersectionality we will end up excluding and counteracting social justice advocacy. Horticulture For Healing recognizes the need to work against gender inequality and gender oppression. We are constantly learning and changing, trying our best as we continue to expand.
I intend to use Horticulture For Healing as a tool towards a society that doesn’t restrict based on an individual’s gender while educating on the true meaning of feminism and expanding gender language and personal pronouns.
The content on our websites, mission statement, social media and printable resources for our Care Kit recipients will continue to acknowledge, question, and combat the systemic problems of the patriarchy, gender inequality and white supremacy that make up our society today.