Trans Awareness – Promoting Proactive Inclusion

Trans Awareness – Promoting Proactive Inclusion

Trans Awareness Week

So it’s Trans Awareness Week this week, and International Men’s Day on the 19th of November. 

I talked about the importance of International Men’s Day a few months ago and encouraged more people and organisations to recognise this day. 

So, in deciding my focus for my blog this week, I’ve decided to focus on Trans Awareness.

Gender equality goes beyond just acceptance; it’s about creating an environment where everyone, regardless of their gender identity, feels valued, respected, and comfortable.

Often, we see organisations making accommodations only when a trans person joins the team. While these adjustments are crucial, we should strive to change the system before someone of a different background arrives. 

This proactive approach is a powerful demonstration of our commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace.

By taking these steps in advance, we can ensure that our workplaces welcome all individuals, regardless of their gender identity, from day one. 

It’s about challenging norms and stereotypes, reevaluating policies, and creating a culture that supports everyone, regardless of where they fall on the gender spectrum.

Here are a few ways we can promote proactive inclusion:

Training and Education: Invest in training and educational programs that raise awareness about different gender identities and experiences. This will help to dispel misconceptions and create a more informed and empathetic workforce. Done well, these programs occur irrespective of how many employees identify this way. Done badly, they can come across as “Riley uses they/them pronouns, so now we need to do this training.”

Policy Review: Regularly review and update your workplace policies to ensure they are inclusive and sensitive to the needs of all genders. Ensure that gender-neutral language is used and that accommodations are readily available. Done well, you are engaging expertise in this area (remember “nothing about us, with us”). Done badly, you are relying solely on the cisgender voices that you already hear a lot from.

Listening and Feedback: Create a platform where employees can provide feedback and raise concerns about gender-related issues. This feedback should be actively used to make necessary improvements. Done well, it should incorporate respectful conversations and inclusive decision-making. Done badly, it can become a fight about who’s concerns matter more. 

Visibility and Representation: Encourage trans individuals to share their stories and experiences, fostering greater understanding among employees. Done well, you pay for a speaker who wants to speak on this topic and share their experience. Done badly, you coerce the trans person in the team to speak on behalf of their community (when they perhaps don’t want to).

Let’s seek to build workplaces that are not only welcoming but also proactive in their efforts to embrace all gender identities. 

By making these changes beforehand, we can pave the way for a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse future.  

Transgender Awareness Week 2022

Transgender Awareness Week 2022

Just a reminder that Transgender Awareness Week should be about giving visibility to the challenges faced by this community – issues of prejudice, discrimination, and violence that affect the transgender community – and working to ensure greater inclusion of members of this community within your organisation.

Don’t take ‘visibility’ as an invitation to push people who are members of the transgender community into the spotlight as a way of signalling inclusion, and acceptance.

It is not the role of members of this community to educate us (unless that is specifically a role they have chosen to take up) and answer questions that we have or to be an expert on diversity and inclusion policies and practices. Or to be a spokesperson for all of the experiences of the people of this community.

Their experience is their own, and their right to share or keep it private.

We need to educate ourselves.

➡️ Reflect on whether our discussions about gender equality are cis-centric, binary or lacking intersectionality. And what we could be doing better to support all genders? Take a look at whether your inclusion policies tend to focus on the LGB and not so much the TQ+.

➡️ Reflect on our language, particularly how we talk about people of this community, particularly when in the company of only cis people. Is our language affirming of gender or treating ‘them’ as an ‘other’ or ‘special’?

➡️ Reflect on whether our ‘curiosity’ to understand things we haven’t experienced personally, leads us to ask inappropriate questions or pry into details of someone’s life that they should not feel pressured to disclose to us (ever). Would we ask the same questions to someone who is cis?

➡️ Reflect on whether our network (professional and personal) or workplace includes members of this community and if there are none (or you can count them on one hand), reflect on what may be contributing to that. Reflect on what we could do to become more inclusive and improve the diversity of friends, network or workplace.

➡️ Reflect on aspects of the cis-tem (system) that may be contributing to the exclusion or uncomfortableness of members of this community. Take a more conscious look at our bathroom setup, pronoun usage, dress codes, and what level of support and sensitivity is given to employees undertaking a gender affirmation process.

That’s what I think it is supposed to be about.

Call me a Friend, rather than an Ally

Call me a Friend, rather than an Ally

This may sound a bit controversial, but please don’t call me an Ally.


I have always felt uncomfortable with the word ‘Ally’ and ‘Allyship’.

I understand the intention of the terms, and they are used broadly in contexts to signal connection between someone outside of a particular community to that community, and the efforts to provide support, advocacy or championing, and to use the power they have to do good for that community.

I never call myself an Ally because for one I think it’s uncomfortable to self-appoint as an Ally, but I also feel uncomfortable when someone thanks me for being an Ally.

The word ‘Ally’ makes me feel like I’m taking a side. And furthermore, I fear that it can make allies think that they are no longer contributing to the problem.

Allies can think that they are on the ‘right’ side. Allies can think that other people are the problem.

We are still part of the problem.

All ‘Allies’ are still part of the problem.

Even members of the community are still part of the problem.

Status as an Ally or a Champion does not absolve us of our prejudices or absolve us of the countless times that we don’t support, advocate or champion particular communities effectively.

It doesn’t absolve us of the ways that we continue to strengthen the system that disadvantages people who aren’t like us, whilst providing and reinforcing the unearned advantage to ourselves and in turn, people that are most like us.

Being an Ally does not absolve us from acting in self-interest, being cowardly or passiveness.

If we don’t continually check ourselves, we can easily fall into offering empty gestures or platitudes or fail to pick up on our potential acts of sabotage.

Instead, I think a better word to use than Ally could be ‘Friend’.

Friends aren’t perfect. Friends can let you down. Friends aren’t always there for you.

But friends do care for you, and friends try their best to give you the support you need, including – at times – self-sacrificial support.

Now, a lot of ‘Allies’ may already appreciate this in their efforts be better allies. But many don’t, and we think that our current actions are sufficient.

It could sound a bit corny, but perhaps we all need to challenge ourselves to be better friends with people who aren’t like us.