Inclusive Interactions

February 2016

About Inclusive Interactions

Inclusive Interactions is a publication released by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion designed to generate intentional conversations among members of the Fredonia community about inclusive topics. Community members are encouraged to dialogue with others related to this topic and leave comments in the discussion forum.

February 2016 Edition: #TransIsBeautiful

In today's society, judgments are often passed quickly and without second thought. People make split-second judgments on the person they pass on the sidewalk, bump into at the grocery store, or see at the gym. Many think that these judgments go unnoticed, but more often than not, what is believed to have been a quick glance is actually an obvious stare that can be hurtful and cause anxiety and depression. Individuals who identify as Transgender or gender non-conforming may experience judgments on a regular basis based upon assumptions about their gender or gender-identity and expression.

Transgender is a term utilized for people whose gender-identity, expression, or behavior is different from what is typically assigned at birth. Transgender individuals may identify in many different identities, including male, female, gender queer, or perhaps just gender-non-conforming. For more definitions and information about terminology, check out the resources below.

Members of our society often make pre-determined judgments regarding trans people. It is all of our responsibility to educate ourselves and engage in dialogue to understand how we can support one another.

How to Be an Ally to Individuals who identify as Trans

1. Don't assume pronouns
  • After transitioning or during transition, trans people often change their pronouns. Some may utilize, him/he, her/she, them/they or others.
  • Sometimes trans people change their pronouns from day to day, or even from hour to hour. This may be based upon how they are feeling that day.
  • It's okay to ask what their pronouns are for that day. They will appreciate it more than you know.
  • It is best to not assume an individual's pronoun.

2. Be careful of misgendering

  • This goes hand-in-hand with watching your pronouns.
  • Being misgendered can take a heavy toll on a trans person.
  • If you accidentally misgender an individual, apologize. It's okay to ask them what they primarily use for gender and/or pronouns.

3. Be appropriate

  • If your question isn't something you would ask someone who isn't trans, then don't ask it.
  • Don't pry into their experiences. Transitioning can be very complicated and when a trans person is ready to open up or come out, it is completely up to them.

4. Don't over apologize

  • If you make a mistake, simply say "I'm sorry." Refrain from over apologizing because making a big deal out of it may bring attention and further anxiety to the situation.

5. Respect their transition

  • If you cannot fully support their decision, then at least respect their choices.
  • Respect that they are going through a HUGE life event and may be having some rough days.

6. Be supportive

  • By following the steps above, you are already on your way to being more supportive of the trans community.
  • You can continue to be more supportive by being aware of your actions, use of language, and attitude with all individuals.
10 Things You Need To Know About Transgender People, by Jazz Jennings

Food for Thought

Take a moment with yourself or with your colleagues, friends, and co-workers to consider the following:

1. Has your outlook on how you have/will treat transgender people changed?

2. If someone close to you came out as transgender, what could you do in your own

words to support them?

3. What do think is the best thing you can do to help support someone who is trans?

Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The primary goal of the Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion is to create a campus climate that is favorable to the development of the human potential of all faculty, staff, administrators, and students. To achieve this goal, the office has three major responsibilities: compliance, equity of services, and diversity.

Content written and organized by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Intern,

Samantha Kowaleski