November 20th is Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR), which marks the culmination of Transgender Awareness Week. Today and every day, we celebrate the lives of Trans, Nonbinary, Two-Spirit, and all gender-diverse people.
This day was created in 1998 to commemorate Rita Hester, a trans woman of colour who loved figure skating, animals, and travelling. TDoR has become a day to mourn the people lost to ongoing transphobic violence, which continues to take the lives of transfeminine people of colour disproportionately. It is also a reminder to recognize the resilience of gender-diverse peoples and to challenge transphobic institutions and social structures.
The following are five essential action items that folks can follow to facilitate gender inclusivity in their lives:
- Support trans journalists and trans media. Transgender people have the best understanding of how to cover topics about their community. Despite this, major news organizations continually employ cisgender journalists to cover these issues, and the resulting coverage is often simplistic, misleading, and/or overtly harmful. Increased coverage of gender-diverse peoples does not equate to increased safety when this coverage misrepresents their experiences. Take the time to seek out transgender content creators and share their work among your networks. A fantastic resource that can guide you in the process is the podcast Gender Reveal. This podcast is hosted by Tuck Woodstock and features interviews with trans, non-binary and/or two-spirited authors, artists and activists. You can find it on any major podcasting platform, and episode transcripts are available on their website.
- Learn to question the gender binary and further develop your understanding of why it is harmful. Gendered oppression intersects with and informs many other forms of oppression, including colonialism, racism, ableism and homophobia. To learn more about the gender binary and its ongoing impacts on people of all gender identities, check out the resource libraries available in the UVic Pride lounge and the Gender Empowerment Center (GEM).
- Respect the privacy of trans, non-binary, Two-Spirit, and all gender-diverse folks in your community. Do not disclose that a person is transgender without that person’s consent. Similarly, do not share private information about gender-affirming care with others, such as information about whether a trans person you know has undergone surgery. Trans folks have no obligation to disclose details of their transition, and others sharing this information without consent may jeopardize their safety and/or well-being.
- Normalize gender inclusive language. An easy first step is to add your pronouns to your Zoom nametag and email signature. If you are struggling with someone else’s pronouns, take the initiative to practice them on your own time. Further, learn to use gender-neutral terms when discussing experiences and body parts that are often gendered. For example, say “people who have periods” rather than “women” when discussing access to menstrual hygiene products. Intentionally adapting your language in this way will make it both more inclusive and more accurate.
- Discuss gender inclusivity even in spaces where most folks are cisgender if it is safe for you to do so. Educating others on gender inclusivity is an all-too-regular part of life for most transgender people. While this can be rewarding at times, it can also be exhausting, frustrating, or even dangerous. When more folks take initiative to educate others in their community about gender inclusivity, it alleviates some undue pressure on gender diverse people to continually carry out this work.