Gender Expression/Identity and Changing Policies

by loval1 on Février 15, 2014 - 4:10pm

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: