There are as many ways of experiencing and expressing your gender as there are people.
Discrimination on the basis of sex or sexual orientation is explicitly prohibited under the Mount Allison University Policies and Procedures with Respect to Sexual Harassment.
Mount Allison University recognizes homophobia, transphobia and gender-based harassment as forms of sexual harassment.
Mount Allison is working to be a safe and welcoming place for people of all genders, gender identities and gender expressions.
Education is the key to understanding and eliminating any form of discrimination including discrimination against those who do not fit neatly into the “gender binary” categories of male/female and masculine/feminine.
What does “transgender” mean?
Transgender is an adjective that indicates that a person does not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. Trans- is a Latin prefix that means “across, over, or outside of.”
A person who does identify as the gender they were assigned at birth is cisgender. Cis- is a latin prefix that means “on the same side as.”
People assigned female at birth (AFAB) who identify as male are transgender men.
People assigned male at birth (AMAB) who identify as women are transgender women.
Do all transgender people identify as men or women?
Actually, no! AFAB and AMAB people who do not identify as men or women can be described generally as having non-binary identities, but there are many more specific terms that a person may use to describe their non-binary identity.
Not all non-binary transgender people consider their identity to be on a spectrum “between” male and female, either. Many feel that their identities exist outside of the gender binary.
What is transphobia?
Transphobia is disdain for, or fear of, transgender people.
Transphobia refers to disdain for, or fear of, transgender people. As a form of harassment, transphobia is most-often expressed as a “gender policing tool” to enforce conformity with sex-role stereotypes. Gender-based harassment can be particularly damaging to individuals who do not identify as strictly “male” or “female.” Any individual perceived as not conforming to stereotypical gender norms may be vulnerable to gender-based harassment. It is estimated that it has been estimated that half the subjects of anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender bullying in schools are not actually lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
Examples of gender-based harassment:
- name calling
- questioning what someone wears, how they do their hair
- using sex or gender in a derogatory statement
Preventing and responding to gender-based harassment
Gender-based harassment, including trans*phobia are addressed under through the Mount Allison Policies and Procedures with Respect to Sexual Harassment.
- Education is provided through staff training, student orientations, ongoing residence programming, The Positive Space Campaign, annual Trans* Day of Remembrance and related activities
- Support is provided to students through SHARE, other services through Student Affairs, and campus support group(s)
- Reports to SHARE are confidential and dealt with quickly in accordance with the wishes of the student reporting
- Ongoing efforts to create a more “positive space” on campus include provision of single user washrooms and proposed changes to the registration system to enable students to use a “first name” they feel reflects their gender identity on all in-school records and lists (legal documents such as transcripts and degrees will show the name on other legal documents such as birth certificates).
How to be an ally to trans people
There are many ways cisgender people can strive to reach out and be more inclusive of transgender people in their everyday lives. It would be impossible to list them all here, but these are a few examples:
- Respect the requests of transgender people to be called by the names and pronouns that make them most comfortable.
- Recognize that a person’s assigned birth gender and name may not be accurate and that you do not have the right to demand to know what they are.
- Refrain from asking transgender people invasive questions about their bodies, sexual behaviours, medical history, or legal documentation.
- Recognize that all transgender people will express themselves in unique and diverse ways.
- Stop equating genitals to gender (i.e. penis = man, vagina = woman) in everyday speech, as well as when discussing medical issues like reproductive health and breast or prostate cancer.
- When discussing gender and gender inequality, don’t just treat transgender people and the issues that affect them as interesting anomalies by ignoring them except as brief side-notes to your topic.
- Make an effort to stop privileging masculinity and degrading femininity in your interactions with others. Recognize that people of any gender may have masculine or feminine traits and that it is not your place to police or denigrate the identities of others.
- Above all, do not try to speak over transgender people about issues that affect them. Listen to actual transgender people to find out what their needs and struggles are.
More resources and a list of gender-free washrooms coming soon!