Inclusive learning design involves developing a mindset of inclusion. The best way to do that is to get to know people with lived experiences different from our own. In this post, I’m sharing resources that will help cisgender folks learn more about transgender inclusion. And I hope these resources will be affirming and helpful for trans folks as well.
In case you’re new to these terms, “cisgender” is when the sex a person is assigned at birth (a classification based on reproductive organs) aligns with their gender identity (a social construct). People whose gender identity does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth may identify themselves using terminology like transgender, intersex, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, or gender fluid. For simplicity in this post, I use the word “trans” and as an umbrella term for all these identities. However, an individual may identify as one of these and not consider themselves trans.
The primary resource I’m sharing is a new podcast called the “Transcending Humanity Podcast.” Last week, I had the honor of being a guest on the fourth episode. This podcast is produced by and for trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people and their allies.
The Connection to L&D
When I wrote the Inclusive Learning Pledge, it was with the hope of starting a movement of L&D professionals who advance diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging (DEIAB) to the forefront. I want to help create a more inclusive world, one learning experience at a time. Developing a mindset of inclusion means that we think about making sure people feel like they belong every bit as much as we think about making sure they learn.
(Want to learn more? Watch this video about the pledge.)
We in L&D are often involved in DEIAB efforts. Unfortunately, many of these efforts are performative and barely scratch the surface of the issue, with no hope of real lasting change. In her book, Leading Below the Surface, LaTonya Wilkins discusses the importance of “below the surface” leadership* that’s authentic, nonjudgmental, and understanding. As she says, DEIAB is “part of the below the surface cultural DNA,” and it shouldn’t be a separate initiative.
If we really want to move the needle toward true inclusion, we need to develop that “below the surface” mindset that permeates every aspect of our organizations—and ourselves. The first step is being willing to recognize and confront our own biases. This post focuses on transgender inclusion, but we may have biases in other areas as well.
*P.S. Anyone can be a leader, even if it’s not in your job title.
Check Out the Podcast
The most effective way I’ve found to cultivate a mindset of inclusion and eliminate biased thinking against a group of people is to get to know people in that group. It helps us build empathy, which is a critical component of inclusivity.
In fact, the more people from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences we get to know, the more ridiculous stereotypes and prejudices become.
Because less than 0.5% of U.S. adults are transgender, you might not have any transgender people in your life. That’s why I’m sharing the Transcending Humanity Podcast. I highly encourage you to start with episode one, so you can get to know the warm and wonderful people behind the podcast. Also be sure to check out episode four, in which I talk about my experience as a “TransParent.”
If the video isn’t included below, you can watch episode four on YouTube here.
If you follow this blog regularly, you may have noticed that my posts have been a bit sporadic over the past several months. My family has been going through some stuff, y’all. So, it’s been harder to find time (and energy) to write.
Part of what’s affecting my family is that in the U.S., we are experiencing a wave of anti-trans legislation across the country. As of this writing, so far in 2023, 532 anti-trans bills have been introduced in 49 states. (UPDATE: As of November 2023, The number has increased to 590.)
In addition, 23 anti-trans bills have been introduced at the federal level. These bills have profound and harmful impacts on trans people’s healthcare, mental health, education, and right to exist safely as they are. Proponents of these bills are also spreading misinformation, which empowers others to verbally or even physically lash out against transgender people. People like my kid. So I’m writing about transgender inclusion because it’s very much on my mind.
It is a scary time for transgender individuals in this country—and those of us with trans loved ones. If you know a trans person, please reach out to let them know you care. Then consider writing to your legislators, and maybe share the podcast with them.
UPDATE: I highly recommend subscribing to news updates from Erin in the Morning to stay informed about news and legislation affecting the trans and queer community. Be sure to check out the risk assessment map of anti-trans laws in the U.S.
Want to learn more? Here is a reading list I’m working my way through. If you have other resources for transgender inclusion that you recommend, please share them in the comments below.
- Gender Euphoria edited by Laura Kate Dale
- Journeys of Transformation: Stories from Across the Acronym by Reid Vanderburgh
- Leading Below the Surface: How to Build Real (and Psychologically Safe) Relationships with People Who Are Different From You by LaTonya Wilkins
- Life Isn’t Binary: On Being Both, Beyond, and In-Between by Meg-John Barker and Alex Iantaffi
- Transition and Beyond: Observations on Gender Identity by Reid Vanderburgh
- Yes, You Are Trans Enough by Mia Violet
As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn a small amount if you choose to purchase from the above links. This helps to support this blog and does not affect your price.
If you prefer, you can search for the books on Bookshop instead to support a local independent bookseller.
People to Follow
Here are some trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people and allies to connect with or follow on LinkedIn to help foster a mindset of inclusion. (Yes, I added myself!)
- A.C. Fowlkes
- Abbie Jane
- Adaline (Addy) Britt
- Angela Young
- Anne Bono
- Bela Gaytán
- Brittany Olinek
- Burnett Grant Âû
- Devin Grayson
- Erica Vogel
- Jeremy Andrew Davis
- Katie Neeves
- Kayleen Holt
- LaTonya Wilkins
- Liza Wisner
- Luna Jade
- Lisa R Magnusson
- Madison Butler
- Polly Shute
- S E Puett
- Star Peterson
- Tamsyn Dobson
- Vanessa Joy
Know others? Want to add your name? Share links in the comments.