This Sunday wraps up Transgender Awareness Week, a week in which individuals and organizations around the country strive to raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and address the issues the community faces. For our contribution, here is a guest post from IUB senior Aimes Dobbins. Their area of study is queer advocacy.
An Open Letter to Students, Staff, and Faculty,
Let’s briefly talk about one simple tip on how to make a classroom environment a safer space for Queer/Transgender individuals!
Remember when you were in grade school and you learned about Pronouns? These words are used to describe a person’s gender identity (ex. She/Her, He/Him, They/Them [singular]). Every single person, no matter who they are, has a gender. A gender is how a person identifies themselves (man/woman/neither/both). It is important to remember to state your pronouns whenever introducing yourself to a new class. It’s easy!
Example: “Hello, my name is Aimes. I am a senior at IU Bloomington, and my Pronouns are They/Them/Theirs.”
Even if your own pronouns may be seemingly obvious, there may be other individuals in the room that might benefit from you initiating pronoun awareness. What this does is creates an environment where the transgender individual(s) in the room won’t have to single themselves out by designating their gender only when someone misreads their gender.
Why is this important?
Having to single yourself out can make an individual feel uncomfortable or even anxious. Experiences like this can be detrimental to an individual’s mental health (when your identity is invalidated intentionally or unintentionally). If you are the person, “the informed ally,” who initiates acknowledging everyone’s pronoun upon introduction, you can help foster more a positive and welcoming environment for all individuals in the room. Eventually, it will become a common thing to do when an individual introduces themselves.
Lastly, I want you to remember…
We are all growing into someone new, every day.
We are always learning about and teaching each other, every day.
In reading this, you learned something today. Please, share it. Pass it on.
You just might make someone’s day, every day!
IMP Queer Advocacy BA
Class of 2017