Creating Positive Interactions with Transgender Students
Transgender students often say the faculty and staff they feel most comfortable with are those who:
- Are caring and welcoming.
- Avoid grouping students by gender in classes and/or activities, or designating certain tasks “male” or “female.” Doing so may force a transgender student to make a difficult, uncomfortable decision. Transgender students who live on campus are encouraged to discuss housing accommodations with the Director of Housing and Residential Life.
- Ask how the student would like to be referred to (pronouns and first name). One approach may be to ask every student with whom you interact which name they prefer. Students typically approach faculty and staff to express pronoun preferences once they feel comfortable, but if a student identifies as transgender or gender questioning, a supportive response might be, “Which pronoun would you prefer I use?” It is important to note that how a student wishes to be referred to in class or other public settings may be different than in private meetings.
- Avoid making assumptions about the individual’s sexual orientation. Sex, gender and sexual orientation are distinct features of an individual’s identity. An individual who was born biologically as a male (sex) but identifies as a woman (gender) may be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or any other sexual orientation.
- Avoid making assumptions or asking questions about an individual’s physical transformation of his/her body. This is often an issue of curiosity. A transgender individual may never transition physiologically and may not feel they need to in the future.
- Acknowledge when they make a mistake with a student’s preferred pronoun or name (it happens).
- Always say something when you hear messages of sexism, homophobia, and transphobia from students and colleagues, even when it is not directed at a specific person (make it your problem). Challenging assumptions, stereotypes, and bias help to create an inclusive environment for all people.
- Know about resources for transgender students, especially on campus.
Office of Student Affairs
Peter Fowler, Associate Dean of Students
Rubenstein 003 | firstname.lastname@example.org | 617-989-4082
Center for Wellness & Disability Services
Counseling for students is confidential and free-of-charge. The counselors in the Center are sensitive to gender issues and trained to assist students with questions or issues related to gender. Whenever appropriate, the Center also makes referrals and collaborates closely with other sources of support in the community.
Watson 003 | email@example.com |617-989-4390 | Counseling
Wentworth Alliance (WITA)
WITA is a group for GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) students and their allies. Students may contact WITA by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students may also contact John Haga, email@example.com, WITA Advisor and Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics