Friday, February 28, 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Neighborhood Bike Works has Bike Church, it is a time when adults can come in and use the tools available to make repairs on their bikes. These open shops are staffed by volunteers who provide guidance to anyone who wants to learn how to make a specific repair. In 2004 NBW designated Wednesday nights for women and the transgendered to create a safe environment to where they can learn bike repair and not have to worry about dodging unintentionally offensive interruptions from other people.
I was somewhat appalled and confused by the recent appeal for volunteers from Carol Borek, Outreach Coordinator for Neighborhood Bike Works. For NBW's open shop night on Wednesday for women and the transgendered, because of the criteria. The criteria for volunteers is you must be a woman or transgendered.
As someone who uses Bike Church I won't deny that their have been occasional questionable behavior on the part of a few attendees. But more often what I have seen is several gifted male volunteers patiently guide inexperienced men and women through a bicycle repair and help them master that particular skill. To imply that male volunteers cannot assist on Wednesday night because of their gender, sexual orientation or the potential for transphobia and misogynistic behavior is insulting. How hard would it be to ask select volunteers to help on Wednesday night? Who would best meet the needs of Neighborhood Bike Works, the attendees and their individual concerns, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
If Neighborhood Bike Works wants to create a safe environment that is free of misogyny and transphobia. Then Carol Borek needs to intentionally uphold values of nondiscrimination when it comes to volunteers for Wednesday night. Not just the ones who fit a specific gender, sexual orientation, or agenda.
* I mean trans to include all gender identities beyond cisgender, i.e. transgender, genderqueer, nonbinary, genderfluid, and so on.