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Creating an Inclusive Classroom for Transgender Students

  1. Ask all students for their preferred names and pronouns.

During the first attendance and use that name and pronoun throughout the semester – let them know it is completely safe for them to do so one way to do this is through modeling your own name, and pronouns during your introduction of yourself to the class.

  1. Recognize “Trans Diversity.”

Not all transgender people embrace the terminology of male or female – ladies and gentleman – or other binary labels.  Additionally, some do not use the term “trans” and find it offensive.  Avoid the use of binary terms such as male, female, and coupling terms such as boyfriend or girlfriend.  Instead use terms such as folks, students, everyone – and in place of coupling terms, use significant others or partners.

  1. Honor What is Shared.

If a student shares their gender status with you, provide an opportunity for academic support without judgment or opinion.  Respect their preferences on names and pronouns.

  1. Correct Mistakes.

Own your mistakes and correct others when misgendering or incorrect names are used.  Be kind and courteous, but also be direct and apologize.

  1. Zero Tolerance for Bully.

Make sure to stop any signs of bullying, harassment, or intentional mislabeling immediately.  Use the opportunity to correct and instruct – and do not allow that to continue in the classroom.

  1. Gender identity and transgender is not always disordered.

Nor do all individuals who are transgender need psychological support.  Yes, refer any student exhibiting signs of depression, anxiety, or emotional distress, but do not assume that just because someone is transgender that they need psychological help.

  1. Not all people who are transgender are obvious.

Do not assume you will be able to correctly identify the correct pronoun.  By asking upfront for preference on name and gender, and honoring those preferences, you will reduce misgendering errors.

  1. Transitioning can happen quickly or sometimes over long periods of time.

You may have a student present as a female one semester and return as male.  Each journey is unique to the individual, and therefore the support they seek may also differ.

  1. Be cognizant of levels of openness in different environments.

Where a student is regarding their openness about gender in school may differ from their openness in other settings.  It is not uncommon to be open about transitioning at school, and yet family has not yet been informed.  Keep this in mind.

  1. Remember that gender and sexuality are not the same things.

A person who is transgender may not be homosexual—watch your assumptions.

About the Author

Cindy Tucci is a graduate of West Chester University with a masters in Clinical Psychology and post-masters' certificate in community mental health. She has been a professor in Pennsylvania and Florida the past six years as well as providing counseling in private therapy since 2010. In therapeutic services, specializes in college-aged students including a large transgender population of clients. Prior to working in higher education, Ms.Tucci was an executive in K-12 education including special education and educational management services for more than 10 years. She currently teaches psychology at Valencia College in Florida.

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