Relational Security: An overview

In 2016 a group of mostly trans and cis women, nonbinary and queer folks developed a series of trainings around the concept of community self-defense. The last of these trainings was about a concept the group called “relational security”. The idea arose out of the lived experience of the people in the room. These experiences brought up questions about the relevancy and validity of the way security and safety were talked about and practiced in communities dealing with state repression. To address these questions, the group took part in a long term political study that focused on the complex nature of security culture. Out of this study and almost a year of discussions, this group developed a training and framework for thinking about and practicing security and safety with feminism and decolonization as its center: relational security.

Relational security is the culture and practice of honoring the complex human relationships we hold and the care work it takes to build and maintain these relationships as the basis for creating liberatory and sustainable organizations, communities, and movements. It centers the experiences of transwomen, cis women, nonbinary and gender queer people and the experiences of people of color. It challenges people’s capacity to sit with grayness, ambiguity, unclarity, and complexity instead of looking for simple solutions. It focuses on security being a process that is relative and situational in opposition to a list of general practices that can be applied to all situations. Finally, relational security acknowledges the use of security practices in colonization and other oppressive systems and attempts to create a process that supports and enables liberation.

The next series of posts will go more in depth about the framework of relational security and its application to building resilient liberation movements.