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October 11, 2023

NetworkSharing is caring – Trans-Inclusive Culture: Guidance on advancing trans inclusion for museums, galleries, archives and heritage organisations

In the context of growing uncertainty and anxiety surrounding trans inclusion, the University of Leicester’s Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) – working with a team of legal scholars and experts in inclusion, equality and ethics – has developed comprehensive guidance to bring clarity, common sense, pragmatism and ethics to a debate that is too often distorted by misinformed, highly charged and polarised viewpoints.

In recent months, numerous cultural organisations have reached out to the University seeking guidance around trans inclusion, for example around how to build understanding and support with staff and stakeholders; how to ethically share trans stories from collections with visitors; and how to defend the organisation’s trans-inclusive commitment in the face of complaints and protests.

Photo by Liz Isles

The guidance, intended primarily for anyone working with or in museums, galleries, archives and heritage, sets out an ethical framework to support cultural organisations to advance all aspects of trans inclusion. It explains key components of UK law, as well as some of the limitations and complexities of the law. 

At the heart of the guidance is a comprehensive ethical framework that can be used and adapted by cultural organisations across the international cultural landscape.  It explains how organisations can:

  • develop trans-inclusive displays, events and public programming
  • generate a trans-inclusive organisational culture
  • provide a warm welcome to (and ensure the safety of) trans visitors
  • work with trans communities to advance trans inclusion

Drawing on over 130 responses to a confidential survey inviting cultural organisations to share the challenges they were encountering in their daily work, the guidance also includes a series of scenarios with practical strategies and solutions designed to build skills, knowledge and confidence for anyone working in this area. 

The development of the guidance was funded via the Economic and Social Research Council. It is freely available to download from the RCMG website:

Download here

Trans-inclusive Culture: Guidance on advancing trans inclusion for museums, galleries, archives and heritage organisations is supported by a raft of influential sector bodies. Collectively these bodies represent and advocate for thousands of museums, galleries, archives and heritage organisations and culture professionals and they set standards, develop advice and guidance that is used by staff, volunteers, freelancers, trustees and cultural leaders across the UK and internationally to create inclusive experiences for many millions of visitors.  

Photo by Liz Isles

We are delighted that the guidance has been supported by a number of leading cultural agencies outside of the UK in recognition of its international relevance and applicability, including OCIM and TyPA.

Professor Suzanne MacLeod, co-director of RCMG comments; ‘The guidance brings together leading-edge scholarship and expertise around ethics, the law, trans inclusion and equality to create guidance that can address a pressing need across the cultural sector.  The first of its kind, Trans Inclusive-Culture shares actions and strategies that will equip staff, volunteers, freelancers, leaders and trustees to work together to positively impact the experiences of trans individuals and communities’.

Professor Richard Sandell, co-director of RCMG comments; ‘Trans-Inclusive Culture intervenes in what has become a highly-charged debate by offering very straightforward, precise and deeply researched guidance to address the uncertainty and anxiety that many cultural organisations are experiencing. The backing of so many culture sector bodies clearly shows how significant this issue is for the sector and highlights the need for museums, galleries, heritage and archives to be more ambitious in their trans-inclusive practice.’

List of supporting organisations

Acesso Cultura; Association of Independent Museums (AIM); Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA); Archives and Records Association (ARA); Arts Marketing Association (AMA); Engage; Fundación TyPA; Group for Education in Museums (GEM); The Heritage Alliance; Heritage Volunteering Group (HVG); ICOM ICME (International Committee for Museums and Collections of Ethnography); ICOM ICOFOM (International Committee for Museology); ICOM UK (International Council of Museums UK); ICOM ICFA (International Committee for Museums and Collections of Fine Arts); Kids in Museums; Museums + Heritage Advisor; Museums Association (MA); Office de cooperation et d’information muséales (OCIM) supported by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the University of Burgundy; South and East Museums Federation (SEMFed); and Scottish Museums Federation (SMFed).


A dedicated space where we come together to exchange valuable information, resources, and tools within the museum community.

At ICOM, we firmly believe that sharing knowledge is a powerful act. With this new section, we strive to facilitate a network of support and engagement. Our aim is to create a platform where our members can access a wealth of information, gain fresh perspectives, and forge connections with other museums and professionals worldwide.

Here you we will share a diverse range of resources carefully curated by ICOM. From insightful toolkits and engaging documents to research papers, that we believe will prove invaluable to our members.