Ensuring that all singers have safe, comfortable housing situations is a critical part of planning any successful tour. Because of the intimacy involved with sharing a room on overnight trips, it is important to be especially mindful of transgender singers’ privacy and safety.
Broadly speaking, “transgender” is an umbrella term for someone whose gender identity (or internal sense of self) is different than the gender that they were assigned at birth. Typically shortened as “trans”, this encompasses a myriad of identities that may or may not fall within the gender binary of male/female. A more thorough glossary of trans identities and terminology can be found here.
More than 1 in 4 trans people have experienced bias-driven assault and trans youth face staggering levels of harassment and discrimination in school (see HRC’s 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report). Creating ensemble cultures that welcome and affirm trans singers can literally be life-saving, providing social support, safe space for self-expression, and a place to belong. Touring, likewise, presents wonderful opportunities to deepen ensemble bonds and for singers to make meaningful musical memories that will last a lifetime. A singer’s gender identity should not be a barrier to them having the fullest tour experience possible; finding safe, comfortable housing solutions for your trans singer(s) is an important step in ensuring a positive trip for everyone.
Below are six suggestions toward housing your trans singer(s) on tour:
- First and foremost, be proactive about asking your trans singer(s) what would make them comfortable and center them in your planning. Use this opportunity to have a broader conversation early on with your singer about what concerns (if any) they have about touring and how they would like to be supported throughout the planning process as well as on the tour itself.
- Ask your trans singer(s) if they have a few people in mind who they’d prefer to room with. This is often the swiftest and easiest way to arrange supportive housing.
- Keep the housing conversation to a “need to know” basis, involving as few people as possible.
- Avoid placing your trans singer(s) in single-occupancy rooms unless they specifically ask. It can feel deeply othering to be singled out as the “exception” - a feeling that most trans people are already too familiar with.
- Never “out” a trans person to anyone without their explicit permission. Be conscientious of ways a singer may be inadvertently outed on your tour (roster, hotel rooming list, plane tickets, etc.) and be mindful of who/how many people have access to this information.
- Be prepared to advocate on your singer’s behalf. Work to educate yourself on trans issues proactively so that you are equipped to be the best ally possible.
The most important thing is to frame your process around how you can facilitate the most positive experience for your trans singer(s). Every individual will have different perspectives and needs - centering your singer in the planning is the best way to ensure that touring can be the unforgettable bonding experience that it should be.
Below are several selected resources which may be helpful:
- The National Center for Transgender Equality has many resources about transgender identities and struggles faced by the trans community
- GALA Choruses has resource sections on creating LGBTQ+ inclusive ensembles and transgender voices
- Creating Choirs that Welcome Transgender Singers (Jane Ramseyer Miller)
If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be delighted to talk more with you about how to best support your transgender singers. Best wishes on your upcoming tours!
Though this blog was written by a choir director, these suggestions are applicable to any type of ensemble traveling on a performance tour!
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