Should a larp participant have to disclose if they are pregnant?

(CW: illness, suicidal ideation, miscarriage mentioned. Death discussed.)

In one of the FB-groups I was in someone asked if pregnant larpers should disclose their pregnancy to the organizers. I wrote some answers in the thread and I think maybe I should put my opinions and recommended methods here in a separate post. What I express here is my own opinion and It’s based in Nordic larps run in countries with access to affordable care. But it is very well rooted in both my ethics and my experiences. I have professionally as a Mental Health Home visitor and a assistive nurse (which is not a registered nurse in sweden). I’ve been pregnant twice that I know of.

My main stance: deciding if someone gets to go to you larp based on if they are pregnant or not, how pregnant they are or how difficult the pregnancy is, will unfairly impact only some of your participants, who are already victims of discrimination. Demanding to know is unfair pressure. If your goal is to make accomodations for pregnant people I instead suggest building a communication style built on trust and make your accommodations needs-based. Make an offer to listen to participants needs, and both ask them what they need and how grave the need is.
If a participant’s needs something your larp can’t offer, be honest and tell them so. Let them self select.

I am also bringing in serious illness because that became part of the discussion. Some expressed worries about larpers dying suddenly at larps due to pre-existing conditions.

Also in this discussion, remember that:
People who are currently pregnant are reading.
People who have hidden their pregnancies to not be discriminated against are reading.
People who have miscarried at events are reading.
People who have deadly illnesses and could “die at any time” are reading.
People with suicidal ideation are reading.
People with seizure disorders are reading.
What they in the discussion will affect whether they will choose to disclose next time they sign up for a larp. Maybe for your larp.

My stance is that I give information so people can self select. They know their bodies better than I do. They make their life choices and decide their risk levels. I do not wish to discriminate towards those with fertile uteruses. I do not wish to discriminate against those with frail health. And this stance leads to a many people actually filling out my question

“Is there anything you think I should know as an organizer?”

And that question is on the casting questionnaire, sent to people who are already given a spot at the larp. So they know their answer won’t affect their chances to get in at the larp. And that means a lot of people do tell me. Have I had bad experiences with undisclosed medical information? Yes. But that was due to that person’s whole behavior, not due to their specific affliction. And does not afflict my basic attitude. I deal with outliers when they happen.

I’ve had my medical data leak from larp organizers. I’ve been lured into false sense of safety because “the organizers knew” and had a cardiac event. At that event I should have told the people in my group instead, as it was them who noticed I had symptoms.

Stock image of a  pair of hands holding a positive pregnancy test

But what if there is an emergency?

As someone based in a country with affordable accessible care I would say any emergency should be dealt with following the emergency plan. First aid volunteer should only deal with first aid, everything serious should be taken to emergency care. If your larp is set in a remote location you need to have a set up for that as well, because even able bodied non pregnant people can suffer a traumatic injury. This goes for bleeding that won’t stop, intense sudden pain, inability to keep liquids of food down, serious seizures, loss of consciousness, breathing difficulties that don’t resolve quickly, severe chest pains. Anything you would send someone in over usually, you send them in at the larp as well. After being checked out/assessed, most of the time the participant can come back an rejoin the larp.
Many would be surprised by how many instances there are of people having for example a miscarriage at an event, who might not tell anyone at the event and then get right back to larping to distract themselves.

When is it ok to deny participation?


I have denied participants with pre existing conditions participation, but that wasn’t because of the condition. It was because something they did or didn’t do (like pay). It has to do with known behavior and how it affects other participants, my volunteers or me. Accessibility goes for me as organizer and my volunteers as well. Not just the participants.
I have sat down with participants who had different needs to look at their possible participation and both arrived at the conclusion that it wasn’t a good fit. And sometime I have been able to recommend them another larp which fit them better.
I have also wrongfully denied some people participation and it had a very adverse effect on their mental health.

Short Version

  • Be careful what you ask for. Avoid making participants feel as if they have to give you sensitive data.
  • I’ve had my best outcomes by having possible participants self select based on my ingredient lists, or contacting me and asking for additional information to help their decision.
  • Most of the time the organizer can deny a person participation, but be wary to not discriminate on the grounds of protected characteristics.
  • If it’s a person miscarrying at your larp you are afraid of, it already happens all the time, often without anyone from the organizer side being notified.
  • Demanding disclosure about pregnancy affects a subgroup (people with fertile uteruses) unfairly.
  • Have high data security on any medical data the participants volunteer. Larps can have leaks due to human error.
  • Don’t create a false security where the participants think you can take care of their medical need. Serious incidents should always go to urgent care to be assessed.
  • If you larp in difficult terrain, far from any kind of help, that is a high risk setting to all your participants. Traumatic injury after a fall or blunt force trauma can happen to anyone.
  • Write down a traumatic accident/death plan available to the organizers and volunteers.

Death

A participant can suddenly die at your larp. It’s a so called low risk, high impact kind of risk based on the risk assessment plan of on the Risk Matrix. It can be due to a congenital defect or illness they know about. Or it can be something they didn’t know. I’ve been involved in projects where planned participants passed away just before the larp. The community supported each other. There were tears. It is something we do not wish to think about but it’s a part of being alive. Meeting other people and living with them. If you worry about this there are some resources available and you can read up about them and make a plan for it with your organizing team. Who calls the emergency number? Who can stay with person? How do you inform the rest of the people on site? Where can participants who knew the larper who died go to get extra support? Do we end the larp early and can we accommodate the participants who can’t go home immediately? What does our insurance say? Can it pay for any additional needs for the organizing team during the crisis and after?

Having a plan helps, even though we do not want to talk about it.

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