Gender Expression/Identity and Changing Policies

by loval1 on February 25, 2014 - 6:33pm

Author Note: The word “Trans*” is used to better encompass the diverse identities and expression within the identity of Transgender.

With an increasing amount of diverse gender expression and identities, there are nearly 300 colleges and universities that have policies that recognize the rights of transgender people to be free from discrimination and harassment (Schnetzler & Conant, 2009).

Gender: A social construct based on a group of emotional, behavioral and cultural characteristics attached to a person’s assigned and assumed gender (The Trevor Project, 2014).

Gender Expression: How we express our gender on the outside (The Trevor Project, 2014).

Gender Identity: Our internal, personal sense of our gender (The Trevor Project, 2014).

Moreover, there is also an increasing number of ways that many colleges and universities are trying to integrate trans* people and become more inclusive in their institution. Some ways include having choices that are more applicable on paper work. Most people who identify somewhere in the Trans* cloud of identity, have a preferred name and pronoun preference. Pronoun preferences include, he, she, zie, hir, they, one, et cetera).

Schnetzler & Conant (2009) express that the most difficult cases related to transgender discrimination arise when a student or employee who has been on the campus for some period announce an intention to confirm their gender expression with their gender identity. For the transitioning employee or student, that is usually one-step in what is already a long process of self-acceptance and understanding. Transitions poorly handled can certainly set the stage for a disruptive or hostile atmosphere. A trained facilitator can emphasize the institutional expectations of respect and equal treatment while creating a safe place for colleagues or fellow students to ask questions, express fears, and receive accurate information.

In terms of restroom usage, there is a lot of discrepancy on whether a Trans* person should have the right to use the bathroom before they undergo any form of sex-confirmation surgery. Some individuals who identify as Trans* do not want to have any type of surgery. The first fundamental approach should be respecting the rights of Trans* people to use the restroom with which they feel more comfortable using, regardless of their surgery status, gender expression or identity.

Decisively, it is impeccably important to establish supportive policies and resources for the Trans* community. Not only is this to respect antidiscrimination and harassment principles but this will also ensure that your institution recruits the best and brightest students, faculty and staff members, regardless of their gender identity and expression.


Schnetzler, G. W., & Conant, G. K. (2009, October 16). Changing Genders, Changing Policies. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 56(8), 30-32.

The Trevor Project. (2014). Glossary of Terms. Retrieved February 15, 2014, from The Trevor Project website:


This is a touchy topic to talk about because somebody always seems to be affected by it. I think every school should have a safe zone, with counsellors to talk about diversity. Such as McGill has safe zones strategically places around their school where if anyone is heard discriminating anyone there would be sever punishments. They've also got a club which i think every school should offer. This club is called QM for 'Queer McGill'. The members of the team set up a cool lounge for people to hang out between classes, where they supply contraceptives, and informations, along with a counsellor. Nobody should feel uncomfortable with themselves because who's to say what normal even is?

I totally agree with you that transsexual people should not have to deal with discrimination or criticism because it touches no one else then themselves and their body. Programs that aim at raising everyone's awareness about concerning this type of genetic difference, that used to be a lot more hidden from most people. However I am surprised to learn that Trans* are a lot more likely to say pronouns such as I, She, He.. I believe that most people should have the right to be informed about more underground subjects like this, because when we have the right to know and formulate our own opinion and vision about a certain thing we generally will understand a lot better. Moreover, it is totally correct for trans* to have the right to decide what they want to do with they bodies, even though I think that when kids are born with a dysfunction it is better to solve it at birth than when they are older and have learned to deal with it, well maybe that's my Canadian conservative perspective. Lastly I find very interesting the questioning about whether they are more comfortable to go in men or women's public bathrooms.

I am really glad that you wrote about transgendered rights as it is a subject that I support. I think it is a good idea that you explained the different expressions concerning gender since it helps us, as readers, better understand this topic. It allows us to be more careful when reading and discussing about it. About policies, I am very proud of Concordia University, in Montreal, that recently decided to add gender-neutral bathrooms. It shows how the university is concerned about its students. Here is an article written in Concordia University’s newspaper which discusses how a transgender student feels about gendered and gender-neutral bathrooms:

About the author