By Lui Francesco Matsuo and Lauren Carpenter
Creating an environment at gatherings and events that is affirming of transgender people is extremely important. It takes more than just welcoming transgender people with a smile to create an environment that is truly welcoming and affirming, so the Transgender Support Caucus has compiled a few tips. Some of these tips may require you to make changes to the way you have done things for years, and may require some individuals to step outside their comfort zone, but implementing them will make a big difference in making sure that the “T” is truly valued in our LGBTQ communities. We hope that you will read through the tips and start to implement them whenever you gather, regardless of whether or not you think a transgender person will be present.
During introductions, educate your group members to include their pronouns after their names (e.g., “My name is Lui, and my pronoun is “he.”).
Oftentimes, the saying of pronouns is only done by people who are trans, but this forces out a trans person, regardless of their wishes. If everyone says their pronouns, it creates a welcoming environment and helps prevent the misgendering of people from the start of the event or gathering.
Make sure an “All Genders Welcome” bathroom is available.
Make sure to let people know where it is (through announcements or in printed material) and that it is in an easy-to-access location, not hidden away. If the location of your event or gathering doesn’t have “All Gender Welcome” bathroom, you may take it as an opportunity for you to educate the venue staff about trans awareness. And if the place doesn’t understand, then your community can research other places to meet.
If you have created an “All Genders Welcome” bathroom by placing a sign on an otherwise gendered bathroom, have a two-person team by the “All Genders Welcome” bathroom entrance area, so that when hateful words are spoken, the team can say, “Hey, can we talk about that?” and direct them away from the entrance. This will make the bathroom truly safe for trans people. (Remember: An “All Genders Welcome” sign alone does not guarantee welcome or safety for trans folks!)