Beyond pronouns and policy: Moving toward trans-inclusivity

March 27, 2018
  • AACRAO Annual Meeting
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • gender

There are a number of ways campuses can better support transgender students, said Lauren Bennett, of the University of Alabama, in her Annual Meeting session “Beyond Pronouns and Policy: Moving Towards Trans-Inclusive Practices.”

Bennett cited research from Campus Pride’s Trans Policy Clearinghouse, stating that there is much work to be done.

Out of the 4,700 postsecondary institutions in the United States, only:

-- 249  include chosen name on student records;

-- 199 have a full-time staff member focused on LGBTQ+ resources;

-- 74 include gender affirming medical intervention on student health insurance;

-- 54 allow gender record updates without medical intervention;

-- 42 include chosen name on campus ID cards;

-- 27 include LGBTQ+ identities on admissions applications; and

-- 13 include gender pronouns on course rosters.

Bennett offered a number of best practices for supporting transgender students, including:

  • Implement inclusive recruiting practices (provide information to students about campus resources and processes for documenting pronouns during orientation)
  • Decouple sex assigned at birth and gender identity on all forms and documentation and in all information systems
  • Train and educate staff
  • Collect data
  • Allow students to designate pronouns and first name (and educate faculty about using these)
  • Make the pronoun designations and first name available through the class roster and all forward-facing screens
  • Do not require medical intervention to change gender marker
  • Allow chosen name on all non-legal documentation and forms

Bennett also offered some first steps for creating inclusive environments:

  • Provide your pronouns where your name exists
  • Question your own practices (consider whether questions regarding gender are necessary)
  • Remove gendered language from websites and forms (use gender-neutral language instead)
  • Don’t reinforce the gender binary
  • Decorate your office space with inclusive materials to indicate to students you are a safe and supportive space