April 9, 2018, by Simon Langley-Evans

Trans Awareness- the basics training session

On 7 February 2018, more than 100 UoN staff attended Trans Awareness – The Basics training run by Gendered Intelligence at the University Park Campus.  There were a number of simple-but-important take-home messages about language and terminology and best practice.  The training first addressed the question of what is a trans person? and established that this is someone who feels that their gender or sex assigned at birth doesn’t match with their sense of self.  This led on to an interesting discussion about sex and gender.  It was pointed out that genes determine sex, which in turn informs gender to some extent.  Gender itself is largely shaped by culture and societal norms.

The training session gave some guidance on language and terminology – which is something that nobody wants to get wrong. New words are being created all the time, meanings are changing and definitions can be inconsistent. Tips and suggestions offered at the training included:

  • Listen to the language and pronouns that a person uses to refer to themself. Mirror their language
  • Be led by the individual – ask if you need to
  • Don’t dwell on mistakes. Correct, apologise and move on
  • For an update on terminology, have a look at this resource: http://www.transstudent.org/definitions

Not only is it morally and ethically right to be inclusive in the way that we relate to others, but it is a legal requirement under the Equalities Act. Best practice suggestions emerging from the training session included:

  • Remove pronouns from letters and paperwork, particularly when communicating with people that you do not know
  • Refer to ‘the student’ rather than ‘sir/madam’
  • Include ‘non-binary’ along with ‘male’ and ‘female’ options on forms/surveys/databases
  • ‘Mx’ is the accepted non-binary title that can be used instead or ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’ (and which should appear on forms and surveys)
  • Remove gender divisions wherever possible and be inclusive. We should be thinking about our gender-specific events and spaces, e.g. toilets and changing areas, dress codes/uniforms, etc.
  • If you are unsure what someone’s preference is, ask!

Finally, someone who is transgender is particularly at risk of experiencing difficulties with emotional health and physical wellbeing. We should all be inclusive by challenging inappropriate behaviour, as well as trying to anticipate and avoid potentially difficult situations.


Carol Raaff
Division of Nutritional Sciences

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