November marked Trans Awareness Month at Ryerson with a series of educational events to celebrate, honour and raise the visibility of the trans community. While it was an opportunity for the university to focus on this important cause throughout the month, creating a culture of inclusion on campus is a year-round commitment.
Here are four practical steps that anyone, including event organizers, workshop/class instructors, meeting chairs or leaders, can implement to increase the inclusion of trans and nonbinary people.
Proactively incorporating these tips into your meetings and events helps create a more inclusive workplace.
When leading a class, event, workshop or meeting, ask that participants include their pronouns when introducing themselves.
If you’re talking to someone one-on-one, help set a standard where people are able to indicate their pronoun to you.
Marty Fink, a Ryerson professor who facilitated the Trans 101: Supporting Trans Individuals workshop on November 1, encouraged use of this line:
“Hi! My name is [insert your name]. I prefer the pronoun [she/her, he/him, they/them]. Do you have a preferred pronoun?”
If using name tags, choose the kind that have a designated space for people to indicate their pronouns.
If you’ve been asked to use a specific pronoun, use it. If you make a mistake (don’t worry, it happens), simply say sorry, correct yourself and move on.
Respect a trans person’s right to be in gender-specific spaces like washrooms, and provide them with information to find the all gender washrooms where available. Visit the Ryerson campus map and select the “single stall washroom” filter.
If you’re hosting an event in a space where there are only male and female washrooms, indicate that the washrooms are gendered, and that at Ryerson we respect an individual’s right to choose the washroom that is appropriate for them.
Ask speakers, panelists and any presenters to address the crowd and guests using nonbinary language. This means swapping out “ladies and gentlemen” for more inclusive language like “everyone,” “guests” or “colleagues.” This is a small change that can go a long way to ensure nonbinary and trans people feel more included.
If you need to split people off into groups, find creative ways to determine how to divide the room, rather than by men or women.
Now you may be thinking, “I know everyone in my department, and I know there aren’t any trans people.” However, even if you have known someone a long time, you shouldn’t assume their gender.
Being proactive and incorporating these tips into your meetings and events is a clear opportunity to create a more inclusive workplace that helps improve a sense of safety and acceptance for all.
*Since this article was drafted, we've learned that it's best practice to remember that people don't have "preferred" pronouns, they are simply pronouns. To say that they are “preferred” implies that a person’s gender is just a preference.