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Striving to Foster Queer and Trans-Inclusive Spaces

Though today’s society is more accepting of the LGBTQ2+ community, there are still barriers created from the norms of society. To help break these barriers down, Circle of Care invited The 519 Education and Training team to provide insight in our Fostering Queer and Trans-Inclusive Spaces session. 

During this 90-minute session Circle of Care staff gained insight into the importance of being a proactive ally by being mindful of our language and vocabulary. 

“The language that we use can be problematic. Sometimes we use specific terms like ‘he’ or ‘she’ unknowingly, but it’s still offensive or transphobic,” says Danielle Araya (she/her), Education and Training Specialist with The 519. “These are the types of things we want to look out for and think very proactively to disrupt any discrimination.” 

It’s commonplace to refer to a group as “guys” or “ladies and gentlemen”, which incorporates gendered language that can make people feel excluded. To create a more welcoming space, those terms can be swapped with ‘everyone’ or ‘folks/folx’. Including preferred pronouns in email signatures, just as Circle of Care staff have the option to, can help individuals avoid being misgendered or referred to by the wrong pronouns. 

“There are lots of words that label someone’s gender or exclude someone or a group of people based on gender. It’s important to be conscientious and thoughtful about the vocabulary we use,” says Danielle. “In the end, we all deserve the same level of respect.” 

Along with being a proactive ally, the importance of combatting old societal views about gender helps fight discrimination against the LGBTQ2+ community. 

“Currently, we’re living in a very gender binary world, where a lot of things are compartmentalized or segregated into these two binaries: male and female,” says Danielle. “But, not everyone fits into those boxes.”

Two important terms that Circle of Care staff were taught about are gender identity and gender expression. Gender identity refers to the gender a person identifies with. This is usually the same as their birth-assigned sex (cisgender), but it could also be different (transgender). Gender expression is the outward expression of a person’s gender, such as how they dress or style their hair. 

Through this session, Circle of Care staff learned the duties of a proactive ally, while also improving their education about the LGBTQ2+ community, and focused on creating and fostering queer and trans-inclusive spaces through these practices.