Dirty Gender Secrets | (dis)Ability and Accessibility Info

Check here for information about how we're working to make Dirty Gender Secrets as accessible as possible, why we are doing this and how you can get what you need and/or be an ally to folks with various Abilities.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

What are we doing to ensure Dirty Gender Secrets is an accessible event?

We believe that people with physical, mental and emotional (dis)Abilities are the community, not an exception to it. Therefore, we have tried to curate and organize Dirty Gender Secrets keeping in mind the needs of everyone involved. Putting together a show that is accessible does mean that there is plenty of work to do - but to exclude people on the basis of physical, mental and/or emotional (dis)Abilities requires far more work in the long run.

We are organizing a show that calls for inclusion. People who are ageing, sick, dying and (dis)Abled are often over looked by organizers and excluded from decision making positions. There are tangible actions we can take to change this. Why not start with an art event?

As artists and organizers who live creatively trying to manage our own relationships with ability, access and inclusion, we feel that art is for anyone who wants and deserves to be inspired, educated and challenged.

If you or someone you know would like to attend Dirty Gender Secrets but has concerns about whether the events will be accessible to them, please contact us.

The steps we've taken to ensure basic accessibility include having a wheelchair accessible and scent/chemical free venue, providing ASL interpretation as well as resting rooms (one will be adamantly fragrance free), limited comfy chairs, refreshments, childcare subsidies and bus tickets.

There is also a 24 hour voice message system, with an out-going message with event details. Please share this information with anyone who would benefit from aural information. 604.682.3269, ext.7010.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Things to Consider on the Health Effects of Scents & Chemicals

Scent Free?
wHat'S ThAT mEan?

Well... let us explain...

People who are scent-sensitive can have serious toxic reactions to chemicals and fragrances that don't bother others.

Products to which they may be sensitive include:

perfumes & colognes (even natural ones)
detergents & soap
hair products
nail care products
petroleum based products (most deoderants)
cigarette smoke!!!

People who are scent-sensitive are not trying to put you down for or complain about your tastes. Rather, they have a condition that can make it difficult for them to attend events that are not scent-free. We want Dirty Gender Secrets to be an event that is accessible to *all* of our community members, which includes artists and community members who get sick from exposure to scents and chemicals!

When people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities come into contact with scented products, they can become very ill. Symptoms can last for days, even months and include things like nausea, headaches, respiratory problems, fevers, fatigue, and/or a general feeling of toxicity.

SO, how can you help ensure that scent-sensitive people can attend Dirty Gender Secrets????

10 tips on becoming CHEMICAL FREE!!!

1. Only buy natural personal-care products labeled "fragrance free".
Try to avoid products with ingredients you can't identify.
2. Buy clothing made with natural fibers, or clothing NOT treated with formaldahyde and other toxic chemicals.
3. STOP using dryer sheets!
4. Use fragrance free laundry soap
5. Throw out that cologne and perfume. You smell just fine.
6. Avoid petroleum products whenever possible.
(hint: Pertroleum byproducts are in many personal-care products like deoderant, hair pomade ect.)
7. Clean house with unscented, natural cleaners. Baking soda or vinegar works great!
8. Cancel your chemical lawn treatment program.
9. Stop wearing make-up or buy non-toxic make-up.
10. Replace air-freshners with plants that clean the air (like spider plants!).

scented soaps & lotions
regular laudry products
scented hair care items
cigarette smoke

Use these alternative products:
Dr. Bronner's Soap -- unscented
Kiss My Face ORIGINAL Olive Oil Soap (green label -- others contain fragrance)
Green Mountain Soap

Dr Bronner's Soap (liquid unscented)
Lagona Free
Pure Essentials Fragrance Free Shampoo
Magick Botanicals Fragrance Free Shampoo
Thom's Unscented Shampoo
California Baby Sensitive Shampoo and Body Wash
Nature's Gate Organics Soy Fragrance Free

Nature's Gate Fragrance-Free Moisturizing Lotion
Alba Botanicals Fragrance Free Lotion
Olive Oil, or any vegetable oil

Pure & Basic Green Tea Unscented Deodorant Stick
baking soda
Unscented Deodorant Crystals

Vinegar & baking soda (an excellent deodorizer as well)
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
Plain baking soda
Seventh Generation Free & Clear (without dyes and fragrances - NOT the regular Seventh Generation)

Dissolve one teaspoon of gelatin in a cup of warm water and keep refrigerated for homemade hair gel. Or, melt together beeswax and olive oil, castor oil, lanolin or almond oil to create a thicker, wax-like pomade (add cocoa butter and use lanolin or almond oil to give it a faint chocolate smell). Open up a vitamin E capsule and squeeze oil into mix to help preserve.
Autumn Harp's Un-Petroleum Jelly
Magick Botanicals hair gel
Naturade AloeVera 80 Fragrance Free Styling Spray

You can also contact Rainbow Research Corporation @ 1-800-722-9595 or www.rainbowresearch.com. They have all sorts of scent-free products, from bubble bath to dish detergent!

Also, remember that clothes, skin & hair hold scent. That means that if you use perfume or smoke while wearing a jacket on Wednesday, and then wear the same jacket without washing it to Dirty Gender Secrets on Friday, people who are scent-sensitive WILL be affected by it. In fact, they may be unable to give you a hug, even though they want to!

Fact: Residual fragrances from hair gel, shampoo, soap, detergent, lotion, makeup, hairspray, cologne, and other scented products will stay on skin and hair for weeks or months. Synthetic fragrances are designed to be "sticky," which is why commercials brag about how long clothes will smell "fresh." As a proactive step to protect yourself and the environment, it's best to give up toxic fragrance-containing products completely. Since the fragrance industry is protected by secrecy laws and not required to prove the safety of their ingredients, you will be helping yourself as well as others.

Myth: It is too hard to make an event fragrance free.

Fact: In some places, particularly in Canada where there are many scent-free schools, hospitals, and public venues, fragrance free policies have been coupled with educational efforts to make a more healthy environment for everyone. Most people with MCS live in devastating conditions because the "too hard" argument is used. Every turn toward social justice is initially hard, but it gets easier as people create movements and promote peer education. It does take extra work to plan a scent-free event, but remember, people with MCS and other disabilities don't have a choice in these matters. Others do have a choice. If they don't want to give up scented products for the sake of a scent-free event, they might miss one event, but that event will likely be the only accessible event for a long time for most people with MCS. If you plan a scent-free event, you will also be setting a precedent for the next event.

Myth: Asking people to buy a bunch of new products to be scent-free is classist. People can't afford to go out and buy new products.

Fact: Being scent-free can be achieved through the use of common household items such as baking soda, gelatin, olive oil, and unscented glycerin soap. Also, you'll most likely be fighting against classism if you stand up against ableism. The working poor in our country are often the most likely individuals to be exposed to the type of occupational hazards that tend to cause MCS, such as pesticides, solvents, and industrial chemicals. Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, which can cause MCS, also disproportionately afflicts people who are working class. Veterans of the first Gulf War, who were exposed to large quantities of damaging toxins, represent perhaps the largest cluster group to be afflicted by MCS. In addition, disability tends to put people into a state of forced poverty. Social Security benefits are sub-poverty wages, and disabled individuals who receive them are often poor.

Myth: Why should everyone have to make a change to help a small minority?

Fact: That statement is a tired historical argument used to fight any attempt to end discrimination against any minority. According to the Environmental Health Coalition of Western Massachusetts, one in five people experience health problems when exposed to fragrances, and 72% of asthmatics have adverse reactions to perfume. This means that an event or venue that doesn't have a scent-free policy could be excluding or harming many of those who might attend. In addition, the Fragranced Product Information Network reports that 17 million people have asthma, 35 million have chronic sinus problems, 9 million have rhinitis, 25 million have migraines, and 1-2 percent of the population have skin allergies -- all can be negatively affected by fragrance. People with chemical sensitivities are shoved to the margins of society where they live in various states of chemical exile. To get a sense of how some MCS folks live, check out the story of young Jonathan, one man with CFIDS/ME and MCS, and numerous MCS homeless living in the Southwest. These stories may change your viewpoint on accommodating fragrance-sensitive individuals.

Big Thank you's to Peggy Munson, Planting Seeds Community Awareness Project and Trannyfest, for layin some foundational resources and support for people and organizations who want to be scent & chemical free!

THANK YOU for helping to make Dirty Gender Secrets a scent-free event!

And if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us!
dirtygendersecrets@hotmail.com or phone.604.872.8337