News & Events
Apology and Accountability Statement
An Open Letter to Bad Girls Members, Community Members, and Friends:
We owe you a sincere, heartfelt, and intellectually reasoned apology. We made a mistake in thinking that we could book a venue with harmful and transphobic policies. Our reasons for doing that do not matter. What matters is that we made a mistake, we hurt and harmed you, and in the resulting fallout we were unable to adequately protect you from being retraumatized by the actions of a few individuals. In this conflict, we as a community engaged in verbal combat with each other and were otherwise unkind and not rooted in community.
When you needed us to take action, we froze.
You have been gracious and kind in letting us know how we have erred and the ways in which it has impacted you. Thank you for that labor. Its additional cost to you is not lost on us.
We both acknowledge, and know to be true, that trans women are women and belong in this club. What became increasingly clear over the last week is that Bad Girls has some work to do around ensuring our club ethically and equitably centers our many intersecting identities with care and intentionality. We’ll know we get it right when trans-feminine and all other club sibs feel held with care and respect.
We made a significant mistake in choosing The Velvet Rope for our next play party without gathering feedback from enough transfeminine members who have concern or have been directly affected by their transphobic policies. This has been a very important lesson and growth point for us as a board that we are taking very seriously.
Intersectionality is a necessary value of our club. Many of our members hold multiple marginalized identities. It was challenging to witness our mistake being met with a particular kind of outrage that appeared to be rooted in white supremacy culture characteristics [PDF]. As none of us are immune to inflicting white supremacy culture, we must all commit to being aware of these characteristics and working to disentangle ourselves and our actions from them.
The problem here is not being upset, angry, or outspoken with the board. It is the absolute right of the membership to critique its elected leaders. We must learn, together, to do that without enacting patterns of racial hostility that cause additional harm. No matter how grievous a harm has been done, weaponizing oppression benefits no one but the oppressor.
Through this conflict it has become clear that we lack a shared understanding of the leather values that the club holds dear, as outlined in our Bylaws and Standard Operating Procedures and covered in our New Member Orientation. This lack of clarity left members unable to use these values to understand and address the conflict.
We recognize that we must move forward together. Here are some actions we will be taking in the coming months to begin the process of repair. If you have other suggestions for actions either the board or the club as a whole can take to repair the harm that was done, please share them with us.
- Pause holding New Member Orientation until the board and a group of members can redesign the NMO, with a focus on historical and contemporary leather values and the intersection of social and gender justice ideologies and practices.
- Support the development and launch of a member-driven (with expertise) discussion around harm, repair, and the work of building inclusive spaces.
- Ensure members are aware the board is available to them for questions and discussion.
- Develop and implement mechanisms to help Club sibs easily identify Colors Holders within the membership and understand how and when to access them.
- Implement Online Code of Conduct so that members can begin to develop shared understanding, alignment, and expectations regarding how they treat one another online. Make clear the consequences for bullying, not respecting one another’s confidentiality, and other intolerable behaviors.
- Continue to develop, recruit, and host learning content that aids members in establishing a foundation in leather values and principles; anti-racist and anti-oppression practices; and interrupting oppressive behavior.
Your 2023 Board of Directors