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Inclusivity at VATSIM


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Over the past little while I have realized there has been a problem in terms of inclusivity at VATSIM. While it's an amazing community and there are many nice folks, I have had to struggle with things like constantly being misgendered and having to use my dead name due to VATSIM's policy of using legal names. I'm not writing this post to start a fight or for it to be controversial, but just to start a discussion about the long road we have to make changes and promote inclusivity. While VATSIM allows you to use a shortened version of your legal name for some things, you still have to register with websites, join various VATSIM community discords (including FIRs), and so much more using your legal name. 

Our legal name often is a reminder to us to the harassment and hate we have faced through queerphobia. Aviation enthusiasts and aviators come in all forms, and there are going members of the LGBTQ+ community as well. It's about finding a way to provide an inclusive environment so that everyone feels comfortable and has fun up in the air or down in ATC! 

I know many will say that's how it has been done in terms of using names, and referring to people as sir/ma'am is just basic aviation nomenclature, but why not be the change we want to see and make it a more inclusive and welcoming environment while promoting aviation among people? I'm sure it will take time and effort, and people will still make mistakes, but this will help us make VATSIM more inclusive for many of us! 

For anyone reading this post, until VATSIM makes changes, here are a few ways I think we can promote inclusivity (not all of these can happen over frequency so I'll mark f for things I think can be done over frequency along with in community groups):
Ask people what they'd like to be called
Ask for pronouns
Mention your own pronouns
Instead of he/him or she/her, use they/them when uncertain of someone's pronouns (f)
Use gender neutral terms like folks (f)
Make this post and your voices heard!

Again, this is not to bring about hate, just love! Love you all! 

Adi (they/them)

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4 minutes ago, Kolby Dunning said:

Although not the intent of the post, you may get your registered VATSIM name changed at https://support.vatsim.net/ by opening a ticket with the Membership department.

I actually did reach out to VATSIM a while ago where I got this response: 

According to the VATSIM Code of Conduct, members must register using their full, real name, so there is no way around that. However, the CoC also gives you several options, when you log on to the network:

A4(b) - Members shall connect to VATSIM using only one of the following name conventions: 
(1) Their real, FULL NAME (ie Joseph Smith), as registered.
(2) An appropriate shortening of their given name, followed by their surname (ie Joe Smith).
(3) Their real given name. (ie Joseph).
(4) An appropriate shortening of their given name (ie Joe).
(5) Their certificate ID number.


So, for example, you could login just by using your CID as username, if you don't feel comfortable with your legal name. I hope you will find one of these options useful, as this is probably the best way I can help you.

 

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This topic is near to me. I just recently changed my name with VATSIM and it was a process - I had to provide supporting documentation (which I luckily had, but I know that many people do not have this).

I put my pronouns (she/her) in my controller info. I sign in as "Alexandra Robison". I still get "sir"ed.

Personally, I have accepted the "gender neutral" state of terms like "man" or "dude", but I know people who would be bothered about things like that.

Overall, I have not encountered much LGBT+ hate. My ARTCC was supportive of me when I came out. However I do agree that we should promote inclusivity. All in all, you make great points!

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ALEXANDRA ROBISON
Air Traffic Manager, Albuquerque ARTCC
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While I support progressiveness and inclusiveness, please also understand that many who use traditional genderized pronouns are not doing so maliciously -- even those who have been educated on the matter and support it.  A few of us have been around for a long time, and un-training ourselves from essentially subconscious habits that are decades old will not be an instant process.

This matter is dear to my heart and affecting my immediate family as well -- and in the case of both my family-by-blood and my family within VATSIM, I hope that my or anyone's inability to adapt instantly to a (relatively) sudden cultural shift isn't mistaken for a lack of support or understanding.

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Cheers,

-R.

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I have seen some amazing discussion in here! I just wanted to add in a few things and thoughts. Again, none of it was meant to call anyone out in specific. I'm also aware habits can be tough to break, so it's okay to make mistakes; it's about correcting ourselves or accepting it when others correct us. There's some great resources out there for allyship. Some of my concerns also come from the fact that having to share your legal name everywhere including community groups because of VATSIM policies, and policies on using your legal name for logins add to struggles as well. 

An argument I've heard often is that there's minors involved and they need to know your legal name for safety purposes. While it's amazing that they care for minors, VATSIM also shares our legal names which VATSIM FIRs and discord communities among other spaces require to be your display name. That in itself is hard for me to see or to comprehend a reason for. If our IDs can be seen and shared, there should be no reason for our legal names (which can often be our dead name) to be mentioned everywhere or to be referred by. 

I mean even schools I've been to have had opportunities for me to change my name within their records to promote inclusivity.

With queer phobia and discrimination on a rise, conversations like these are very important. It's not about politics or religion, but about making people feel welcome, comfortable, and included. Asking for dead names often invalidates people's gender identity and can be really hurtful. 

If you're working with VATSIM, a VATSIM division, or an FIR, it might be helpful to also start this very conversation within your community. ❤️ There are some amazing allies in the community, but we can't call ourselves inclusive unless we've taken steps to bring about inclusivity and a positive safe space for members. 

If you run a community where you are trying to have discussion for inclusion but have little to no LGBTQ+ representation and don't want to be the "cishet saviour," but be an ally, I'm sure there's many VATSIM members (including me) who would love to help out in any way we can to make it a safe and welcoming space for people.  

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One thing that often gets misunderstood is that "he" or "she" is not meant litterally. I am pretty confident that almost everyone here (you never get to 100%) understands "he" (as in "he will make you intercept the ILS") not strictly as an ATCO being male. It's just for brevity and if we needed to write "he/she/it/they/them" our forums posts would start looking awkward and unreadable. Please, do not interpret too much from single words.

I think that VATSIM is already very inclusive. I have been around here fore 20 years and since the beginning I have worked with numerous LGTB individuals who were regular members or part of local or regional staff. Never had there been an issue.
We have quite a few non-standard individuals and we welcome and value them as much as much as everyone else. In fact we should be at the point where we do not even think much about this anymore and I am confident that most members do not have second thoughts when coming by an individual like this. We are one big group with a common hobby - everything else is completely irrelevant. As long as everyone behaves in a respectful way and this goes in both directions.

And: a name is a name. If you prefer not stating your official name when logging in to VATSIM then use your VATSIM ID. And if someone calls you "Sir", who cares? Even in the real world this happens on a regular basis, because voices over the radio can be mistaken easily. Some ATCOs are heavy smokers and at some European airport there's a prominent lady with this loooooooooow voice who regularly gets called "Sir" 😄 So what, life goes on. Laugh about it, continue. If your voice is a male voice, people will rather address you as "Sir", because they cannot see you in person, do not take it personally. Most do NOT have a hidden agenda by doing this. In the end, a name is just a name on a piece of paper. What's important is the way you act.

If you want to get your registered name changed, provide a legal document/evidence to VATSIM or if lacking this, present your case one more time, maybe with this discussion as reference.

PS: as conclusion I would like to state that I find VATSIM a very inclusive place already. We cater for the blind, we accommodate the deaf, if you do not speak English very well, you can still speak your mother tongue when flying VFR or even IFR in your home-countries (in reference to your language) and for LGTB I never encountered a real issue within my reach.

Edited by Andreas Fuchs
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57 minutes ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

One thing that often gets misunderstood is that "he" or "she" is not meant litterally. I am pretty confident that almost everyone here (you never get to 100%) understands "he" (as in "he will make you intercept the ILS") not strictly as an ATCO being male. It's just for brevity and if we needed to write "he/she/it/they/them" our forums posts would start looking awkward and unreadable. Please, do not interpret too much from single words.

I think that VATSIM is already very inclusive. I have been around here fore 20 years and since the beginning I have worked with numerous LGTB individuals who were regular members or part of local or regional staff. Never had there been an issue.
We have quite a few non-standard individuals and we welcome and value them as much as much as everyone else. In fact we should be at the point where we do not even think much about this anymore and I am confident that most members do not have second thoughts when coming by an individual like this. We are one big group with a common hobby - everything else is completely irrelevant. As long as everyone behaves in a respectful way and this goes in both directions.

And: a name is a name. If you prefer not stating your official name when logging in to VATSIM then use your VATSIM ID. And if someone calls you "Sir", who cares? Even in the real world this happens on a regular basis, because voices over the radio can be mistaken easily. Some ATCOs are heavy smokers and at some European airport there's a prominent lady with this loooooooooow voice who regularly gets called "Sir" 😄 So what, life goes on. Laugh about it, continue. In the end, a name is just a name on a piece of paper. What's important is the way you act.

If you want to get your registered name changed, provide a legal document/evidence to VATSIM or if lacking this, present your case one more time, maybe with this discussion as reference.

I really appreciate this post. Again, it's not personal, but I want to address this as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and I'm pretty sure many people here would agree. But before I type the rest of my post, just wanted to remind everyone that this isn't meant to be an attack on anyone, but rather a place where I hope to start discourse and hopefully encourage some changes in the community. This is also meant to be educational to those who hope to be allies but don't know many people who aren't cishet.

So I'll begin by addressing the "non-standard individuals" part of things. I'm assuming that meant folks who aren't cishet, and I can imagine wasn't your intention, but non standard comes off as a little exclusionary. The reason it doesn't come off nice is because its origins were to invalidate members of the LGBTQ+ community saying there's something wrong with us. 

Now that that's out of the way, in terms of thinking about things like these, I believe we always need to think of inclusivity since ignorance makes us complicit in the divide. As someone who has often dealt with hate speech, bullying, and even death threats, I can definitely say we are very from a fully inclusive world. I have screenshots from a discord server run by a prominent member in the VATSIM community where I was kicked out for merely talking about queerphobia within VATSIM because they believe having people who are against our existence also addresses diversity (I'm going to leave this one out of here since I made a whole post elsewhere calling them out, but just wanted to give an example). There's many communities where the mention of this topic would get folks banned or posts like these would get deleted for being "controversial."  

Now addressing the name part of things, it might be a mere name to many, but to many it is so much more than that. It's called a dead name because that is what the name is supposed to be. That name stands as a reminder to many as a sign of the struggles they've had to go through to come out, transition, or even their life before they transitioned or came out. There are also many who are still unable to change their names and are selectively closeted. This mere name is what led to hate crimes often as well. 

Here's a little article that speaks to dead names and why they are harmful: https://www.healthline.com/health/transgender/deadnaming#media

Adding to that, just signing in with a different name doesn't address the fact that most places including various VATSIM's community discord servers prohibit me from using anything but my VATSIM name which logging in with a different name wouldn't change. And when your dead name shows up next to your messages, that's what people are going to refer you by because it's harder for people to remember your name with that massive a community.

And while I might be able to get my name changed without a legal document somehow, it's not just about me. I hope to help make an inclusive and safe space. 

Hopefully, this helps answer your questions. ❤️ 

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1 hour ago, Advay Khaitan said:

So I'll begin by addressing the "non-standard individuals" part of things. I'm assuming that meant folks who aren't cishet, and I can imagine wasn't your intention, but non standard comes off as a little exclusionary. The reason it doesn't come off nice is because its origins were to invalidate members of the LGBTQ+ community saying there's something wrong with us.

So, you see, you are already interpreting too much into my words. We all know what "standard" is: the absolute majority of human beings live a binary existence, man and women as partners. This is the standard (by evolution, otherwise we could not reproduce, easy to understand). Hence "non-standard" is just a way to describe other ways of human life. There is no judgement, it is merely a description. And again: it is being taken the wrong way, with assumptions what the author MIGHT think about these persons, although it is not the case. At all.

And we also need to realize that there will never be a perfect and fully inclusive way: someone will always feel excluded or actually be excluded, because some humans are simply low life forms, stupid and intolerant. The best way to punish those individuals is by simply ignoring them - they can only take satisfaction from their threats and attacks when you recognize them and react to them. Ignorance is the best weapon. And at VATSIM it is also very easy: should a member of VATSIM talk down to you or badly about you, then there's the Vice President Supervisors. Report it to him or his team, provide evidence and witnesses - they take this stuff very serious and will not scrub it below the carpet.

One piece of advice that I would like to also give is to stop victimizing yourself and people "who are different". Just be whatever you want to be, don't make a fuss about it, be respectful and others will be respectful about you, too. If they are not, ignore them or report them. Nobody really wants to discuss BLM, LGTB, Trump, Kim Jong Un, Putin, Merkel, the Myanmar genocide etc., this is not the right place for it. It's about aviation. I work in aviation. We have lots of crew members from the LGTB (mainly gay) community as highly competent and respected colleagues, not just in the cabin, but also on the flightdeck. It's not even a topic! Our topics are: competence and professionalism, we don't find our private preferences "special", it's just life, no matter who puts what body part into what or whom. Simple as that.

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I think that brings about the don't ask don't tell ideology that many militaries were famous for. It sadly brings about oppression as well. It makes being closeted important. And I don't think any of us romanticize oppression. While Trump, Kim Jong Un, Putin, and Merkel are all political conversations, and I'm not sure the aviation community can do much directly to address Myanmar genocide, topics like Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ existence are not political, and if we're talking about change, discussing inclusivity, and addressing our problems, all within VATSIM and aviation, I don't see why it wouldn't be relevant for the forum. 

It takes a lot to openly discuss these issues, and I just wanted to use this opportunity to also empower other members of the LGBTQ+ community to speak up. 

Also, I don't think any of us wanted to be special, but I also don't believe we can be called both non-standard and not be special at the same time (that was just a little bit of a wink moment there haha). Anyhow, back to the real conversation. None of us like to be victimized. I'm sure no one chooses to be oppressed, hurt, belittled, bullied, or be victims of hate crimes. Adding to that, none of the changes I've recommended are radical. It's just something to think about to help promote inclusivity. While ideal inclusivity is hard to achieve, if we didn't strive towards an inclusive environment, no one except for cis straight white men would have a say in anything and aviation would just be men in the flight deck and just women in the cabin. 

If you're interested in learning about the kind of oppression people face, and how we can together make VATSIM a truly safe and inclusive space, I think a great way to do that would be by addressing things you see wrong or that need change.

I mean if our schools, legal systems, healthcare providers, among others can make changes, I'm sure we can at Vatsim too. It's just about acknowledging problems exist and trying to address it. If we just ignore it altogether, it would continue to be an unsafe and sometimes even toxic environment for many people in marginalized communities. While many FIRs and divisions have made efforts towards inclusivity (I've seen FIRs in Vatcan try – I can speak to that since they're the ones I'm most familiar with and have had this conversation with), but there are many central VATSIM policies that still continue to be hurtful. While I'm sure the intention of those policies were noble, the world has changed and issues have become clearer, and we've become more aware of right and wrong. 

I really would enjoy nothing more than not even having to post this, but the fact that I did and there are those who have interacted with it already goes to show there is a problem that needs addressing. 

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Diversity is not just about gender or sexuality it is also about the people who are blind, have hearing issues, or other personal circumstances. Once we can great a diverse leadership within vatsim so we can improve upon the inclusivity of the organization. We all share the same passion for aviation.

one thing I like to share coming out is not about sexuality or gender.  Coming out is about letting others know who you really are as a person and this applies to all people. You can come out due to autism or another mental health problem or a disease.

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As a straight, non-LGBT+ member of the VATSIM community, I stand with the concerns of Adi, Alexandra, and the other LGBT+ members of our community who have expressed their views here. I believe that even if it may be impossible, at least in our lifetimes, to reach a world of full tolerance and inclusivity, we should make every effort that we reasonably can to pursue that goal.

I don't mean to speak on behalf of the LGBT+ members who have responded here, or the LGBT+ members of the VATSIM community on a broader scale. I am an ally, and I cannot and will not speak for the experiences of the LGBT+ community on a broader level. However, I would to respond to some of the points you make, @Andreas Fuchs.

Firstly, even if there is no way to be perfectly inclusive, I think it is entirely reasonable to do what we can to make others feel welcomed within our community. We are all gathered here for our common love of aviation, and many of us - myself included - treat it as a distraction from the very real problems we face in our world, including politics and society. However, that does not mean that our hobby is isolated from the world we live in. Adi has mentioned that they have faced real discrimination from other members of our community - that itself proves that as much as we want to think of our hobby as separate from our real lives, the horrible parts of the latter can spill into the former. The question isn't so much 'does this exist', it's 'do we want to see it or not?'

Yes, there are official avenues of resolution for conflict. That does not mean that we should not each strive to be welcoming and respectful of others, and respect what they ask - surely respecting something as simple as a name, or how someone wants to be referred to in general, is something that should take the average person little effort? If someone has kindly and respectfully corrected some mistake you made in referring to them, and asked you to refer to them in the way that they prefer (whether that's by using "Sir", or "Ma'am", or "they", or something else), what is preventing you from simply not judging their simple request and granting it? If you have already been asked, and you deliberately choose to keep doing the same things, then are you truly being as nonjudgmental and apolitical as you claim?

I would also like to quote Rob Shearman here:

7 hours ago, Robert Shearman Jr said:

While I support progressiveness and inclusiveness, please also understand that many who use traditional genderized pronouns are not doing so maliciously -- even those who have been educated on the matter and support it.  A few of us have been around for a long time, and un-training ourselves from essentially subconscious habits that are decades old will not be an instant process.

This matter is dear to my heart and affecting my immediate family as well -- and in the case of both my family-by-blood and my family within VATSIM, I hope that my or anyone's inability to adapt instantly to a (relatively) sudden cultural shift isn't mistaken for a lack of support or understanding.

While, again, I will not speak on behalf of the LGBT+ community, this strikes me as a much more reasonable approach. Sure, it takes time to unlearn old habits, but one needs to make the effort to start the process of unlearning those old habits in the first place. And that effort is commendable in and of itself. Progress and change may be slow, but that doesn't mean we should let it go.

Additionally, the LGBT+ community has been broadly discriminated against, and continues to be discriminated against, in much of the modern world, for much of modern history. It is disingenous to say that LGBT+ people are victimizing themselves, when the oppression they have faced historically and still face today is very real. I would like to make the point that while much of Europe has made strides in recent years in LGBT+ equality, there are still many regions, for example in the Middle East, where religious extremists, including at the highest levels of government, criminalize LGBT+ activities under penalties such as death. We are a global community here on VATSIM, and we should not base our assumptions of what people's experiences are like solely off of what the situation in Europe or Canada or the US is like.

I'd also like to make the point that in those sorts of countries and places, it is often impossible to change your name legally if you are transgender. VATSIM's policy that you must legally change your name may work for LGBT+ members in relatively progressive countries that allow such name and gender changes on official records, but that excludes over half the world. In general, I really don't see the problem with allowing people to set 'preferred names' on VATSIM. Even if that person's legal name must still be logged in the database 'behind the scenes', why not allow those members of our community to represent themselves with the same name that they would introduce themselves with if you were shaking hands with them at a coffee shop?

I don't know if I have the time or energy to engage in a protracted debate on this thread, so I'll leave my thoughts at that. Adi, Alexandra, and other members who may be watching that are LGBT+, or perhaps on a broader level part of a historically marginalized group in society, I send you my strength and support in solidarity. Take care, and be safe.

Edited by Jonathan Fong
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We will not come together here on the details, because I do not think that it will make a big difference by just addressing people differently. The difference will be made on how you treat people. If he/she/it/they got kicked out from a Discord server that is associated with VATSIM, why wasn't this case taken up to VATSIM's VP Supervisors or even the DCRM? Maybe there are 2 sides to the story?

I am supportive of your cause, in principle. But I also think that it would be counter-productive for your own cause if you made a big fuss out of nothing. I don't care whether you are yellow, green, black, brown, white, short, tall, gay, lesbian, nothing, both or even several persons. As long as we can just do our business here - and that is the simulation of aviation - it does not play the slightest role. Some people will probably raise an eye-brow upon making their first contact, but just be confident about it. Show competence and the will to learn about what we are doing here. And if somebody is abusing you or someone else, report it.

PS: I forgot to mention this: airlines (in modern countries) are actually very good examples of inclusion - women have entered our flightdecks many, many yeeeeeeeeears ago. If there were more competent women who chose this career path, there would be even more working in this industry. Oh, yes, I can see your raised eye-brows, because I wrote "competent women": naturally I expect companies to only hire "competent men" as well. We just don't want to get into a situation where somebody gets preference for his gender or ethnicity - the person with the highest level of competence, potential and pleasant character should be chosen. Period.

Edited by Andreas Fuchs
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I’m beginning to see why most airlines discourage or ban these types of conversations from happening on the flight deck 😂

 

Anyways to throw my 2 cents on the hat here. I agree with both the author and Andreas to an extent. There is no question that we need to be as accommodating as possible for everyone on VATSIM regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, disabilities, etc. etc.. At the same time we need to remember why we’re on VATSIM in the first place, that being to simulate aviation. Aviation is a tough career to get into and stick with (the latter part of that statement is just from what I’ve been told not personal experience) and at times everyone needs to have a tough skin. As Andreas pointed out, getting called “sir” isn’t gonna be the end of the world for anyone. I know a number of females on VATSIM that get called “sir” all the time and yet they just shrug it off and move on. The author mentioned how one might use the term “folks” on the network instead, although to me that is far more informal or colloquial than “sir” or “ma’am” and it’s why it’s not often heard on frequencies in the real world. Yeah you may not enjoy it but at the end of the day, people often don’t check names or controller information and just make a guess off of the voice. We need to ask ourselves sometimes is it worth getting worked up over a title? Or is my overall enjoyment of VATSIM more important?

Also, the context that sir and ma’am is used in aviation is typically that of high respect or politeness and I’m sure 99.9% of people aren’t intentionally trying to discriminate against anyone by saying it. I hope this doesn’t come off as hate against the author or anyone else in the LGBT+ community, it’s not meant to be that way, but the vast majority of people fall happily under the category of wanting sir or ma’am (more so sir but that’s definitely changing) to describe them, and as long as that’s the case I don’t see the phrase being dropped. In addition, as long as the aviation industry in the real world uses phrases like that, you can expect the same to happen on VATSIM as after all we do our best to simulate the real world.

So yes promote inclusiveness. No one should be banned from discord servers purely for their gender/sexuality (although hearing the other side of the story would be beneficial so we don’t jump to conclusions) or discriminated against because of it. We can all try and learn how to make people feel more comfortable on the network and I think this thread has been really beneficial in a context outside of our regular discussion.

 

Cheers!

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Josh Jenk

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34 minutes ago, Andreas Fuchs said:

PS: I forgot to mention this: airlines (in modern countries) are actually very good examples of inclusion - women have entered our flightdecks many, many yeeeeeeeeears ago. If there were more competent women who chose this career path, there would be even more working in this industry. Oh, yes, I can see your raised eye-brows, because I wrote "competent women": naturally I expect companies to only hire "competent men" as well. We just don't want to get into a situation where somebody gets preference for his gender or ethnicity - the person with the highest level of competence, potential and pleasant character should be chosen. Period.

+1 to this. It’s great to finally start seeing more and more females on both the network as well as on the flight deck and as ATCOs in real life!

Josh Jenk

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2 hours ago, Josh Jenk said:

+1 to this. It’s great to finally start seeing more and more females on both the network as well as on the flight deck and as ATCOs in real life!

Actually, wherever I fly to in the real world, I quite often encounter "female ATC only" situations. It's normal, they are just doing their jobs. Especially in terms of ATC there are regions where 50% or more ATC personnel are female.

Edited by Andreas Fuchs
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Congratulations on raising the topic.  In my belief the only way to change is through education and discussion.

I really feel for anyone who joins the server and becomes the honey pot for the bees.  It takes courage, conviction and internal bravery to go the distance.  Sadly I believe VATSIM is a microcosm of society, and that can’t be changed.  
 

We all need to think of the other persons feelings before opening our mouths.  ‘He’ is not a universal term in any dictionary or Air Services manual I have seen.  
 

People are always going to have differences, that’s what makes us human.  Accept that someone else is different and use your brain. (Especially before posting in support of ‘standard’ or ‘normal’)

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Sean

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1 hour ago, Sean Harrison said:

People are always going to have differences, that’s what makes us human.  Accept that someone else is different and use your brain. (Especially before posting in support of ‘standard’ or ‘normal’)

In the same way that someone can post about including the "not-normal" (and rightfully so by the way, good on the author for starting the topic cause it's something that needs to be talked about), one can just as rightfully post their support for "standard" or "normal." Neither view is more right than the other. It's all an opinion and everyone (in my view) is entitled to have one and to speak their mind. With all due respect, shutting someone down for expressing their views if they don't match yours is doing exactly the thing we are trying to discourage people from doing by starting this topic.

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Josh Jenk

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Just to be clear: I wrote "standard", not "normal". "Normal" is already judging something or somebody, "standard" is just a factual expression. I am not judging whether it is good or bad to be "standard" or "non-standard". I am not "supporting" it, I am merely stating a fact of life.

Before you ask people to not judge others, please do not do it yourself in the first place.

And I am fully supportive of any cause of inclusion, no matter what. As long as everyone is respectful to each other, it does not matter whether you are blind, deaf, speech-impaired, standard, non-standard, whatever. Within my reach at VATSIM this has always been the case!

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11 hours ago, Josh Jenk said:

I’m beginning to see why most airlines discourage or ban these types of conversations from happening on the flight deck 😂

 

I couldn't agree more.

 

This issue is particularly contentious because it's not a simple policy or procedure change -- it's a fundamental difference between worldviews. I encourage everyone to share their perspectives, but on an issue where the root disagreement is something so intimate and personal, it really can't be legislated away.

Treat each other with respect, whatever that means to you. Don't break the rules. Don't harass others or act in any malicious fashion. It is important to consider others when communicating, but it is also a dangerous precedent to demand that VATSIM not only encourage, but enshrine in policy a particular view of the world.

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Oh another one of these posts....

I'm fairly open about my experience as a transgender woman on this network if the topic ever arises. I was lucky enough to be helped when I couldn't get legal documents at the time (recently just got my new birth certificate with my name and sex on it after years of government meddling!!) and have been fortunate enough to get called she/her and ma'am on the network because of my passing voice.

That however is a fairy tale for a lot of trans people, especially trans women who are on the short end of the stick when it comes to being recognised as who they are, especially on a platform so heavily focused on voice-only communication. Is that the fault of the people on the other ending saying "sir" or "he" on the radio about them? No... I guarantee you no one looks at the name of the pilot before speaking to them. I do to recognise people I know, but I doubt I'm in the majority. I get called he in the sense of "taxi behind the company A320 after he passes left to right", but thats just out of the culture that a lot of aviation enthusiasts have. I'm sure if we were 99% female then it would be she all the time... I wish lol

There's so many arguments for name changes as well, but I hope we can all agree that erring on the side of being inclusive and giving the benefit of the doubt is what's best in the long run for our hobby. There will always be people looking to abuse the system to try and do unlawful or malicious things on here, but the story of a trans woman tends not to be that. Creepy men will just go into a womens bathroom (to use a politically relevant example) if they want to... no point going through an entire transition just to do that. It's very easy to tell when someone isn't genuine. 

In the end, being called sir doesn't bother me. I find the idea of using that honorific on the network weird anyway. I'm just an 18 year old girl controlling in her bedroom avoiding an essay due soon,  no need to be that respectful xD

But, there are so many people it will bother. It only takes a small amount of effort over time to adjust to being gender neutral to people who you don't know, and for the majority of people who don't care, the minority who genuinely do care will thank you for it.

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Liesel Downes
Gander Oceanic Deputy OCA Chief
ganderoceanic.ca
she/her/hers

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On 3/19/2021 at 12:50 PM, Kolby Dunning said:

Although not the intent of the post, you may get your registered VATSIM name changed at https://support.vatsim.net/ by opening a ticket with the Membership department.

That isn't the reality and doesn't help anyone who doesn't have government ID, which is a lot of trans people, for whatever reason. Be it unsupportive parents/guardians, inaccessibility to name/sex change because of the law or lack of money, or whatever. 

Liesel Downes
Gander Oceanic Deputy OCA Chief
ganderoceanic.ca
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Thanks so much @Liesel Downes for helping address this. 

Also adding to some amazing points she (hoping I'm using the right pronouns after looking at the previous comment, but please correct me if I'm wrong) has made, I just wanted to say that while name change will not solve all or even half of the problems, it would help a lot of people with their mental health and in feeling safe. I don't believe this is a political issue, but is rather a humanitarian one. I know it can be hard for people outside the LGBTQ+ community to understand the struggles we face, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. A great way you can also bring about change is reach out to the marginalized population and ask them how they've been finding things. 

I haven't changed my name on legal documents for many reasons, including financial ones and for safety. Even though I live in Canada, I haven't been exempt from harassment and bullying. I'm sure many people would agree it still exists in all parts of the world. The mere effort of adding support towards the LGBTQ+ community would make so many more people feel safe and welcome here. 

While being respectful and nice to each other is important, we also need to ask if we are really being respectful if people with traumatic experiences are dead named and feel less than welcome in a community, attributing their existence as a mere political issue. Just being told from a few friends "we respect and love you no matter what and we will appreciate your identity because it is valid" was enough to make me tear up and feel welcomed and safe. 

We can do so much better in VATSIM. It just cannot be done if we maintain a heteronormative ideology and ignore the oppression many communities (not just those in the LGBTQ+) face. 

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2 hours ago, Advay Khaitan said:

Thanks so much @Liesel Downes for helping address this. 

Also adding to some amazing points she (hoping I'm using the right pronouns after looking at the previous comment, but please correct me if I'm wrong) has made, I just wanted to say that while name change will not solve all or even half of the problems, it would help a lot of people with their mental health and in feeling safe. I don't believe this is a political issue, but is rather a humanitarian one. I know it can be hard for people outside the LGBTQ+ community to understand the struggles we face, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. A great way you can also bring about change is reach out to the marginalized population and ask them how they've been finding things. 

I haven't changed my name on legal documents for many reasons, including financial ones and for safety. Even though I live in Canada, I haven't been exempt from harassment and bullying. I'm sure many people would agree it still exists in all parts of the world. The mere effort of adding support towards the LGBTQ+ community would make so many more people feel safe and welcome here. 

While being respectful and nice to each other is important, we also need to ask if we are really being respectful if people with traumatic experiences are dead named and feel less than welcome in a community, attributing their existence as a mere political issue. Just being told from a few friends "we respect and love you no matter what and we will appreciate your identity because it is valid" was enough to make me tear up and feel welcomed and safe. 

We can do so much better in VATSIM. It just cannot be done if we maintain a heteronormative ideology and ignore the oppression many communities (not just those in the LGBTQ+) face. 

She is correct 🙂

Liesel Downes
Gander Oceanic Deputy OCA Chief
ganderoceanic.ca
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