Part One: (9am to 12pm)
Introductions (9 to 9:15)
1. Defining the Terminology (9:15 – 9:45)
Any comprehensive discussion of the transgender experience begins with defining some key terminology. We’ll look at definitions of sex, gender, gender identity, transgender identity and gender variance – among others – and briefly examine the related concepts of the gender spectrum and a trans(gender) spectrum.
2. Introducing the Transgender Community (9:45 – 10:15)
The transgender community is often described as “an umbrella concept” that comprises various types of individuals, with something fundamental in common: our experience of gender identity falls outside of society’s traditional norms and expectations. We’ll explore the distinctions between transsexuals, transgenderists, and crossdressers, as well as gender-variant, genderqueer and gender nonconforming people, in a kind of transgender spectrum often represented with the term ” trans* “. Despite the distinctions drawn amongst ourselves, often vigorously, the discrimination we face comes from a common source: society’s misperceptions and its fear of gender diversity.
(Questions 10:15 – 10:30)
(Break 10:30 – 10:45)
3. A Brief Look at Transgender History (10:45 – 11:00)
Today’s media often still puts forth the notion that transgender people only emerged recently from advances in 20th-century Western medicine. In reality, transgender and gender variant communities have existed across time, geography and varied cultures throughout human history. Trans people represent a culture, one that precedes 20th and 21st-century medical paradigms by thousands of years.
We’ll examine historical examples that locate trans people across the world, down through history, in ways that have influenced human mythology, religion and culture.
4. Identifying and Challenging Stereotypes (11:00 – 11:15)
Challenges facing transgender people in today’s era have emerged from a mix of religious, psychiatric, media and folk stereotypes over the centuries. We’ll explore what some of these stereotypes are, how they have been reinforced through modern mass-media, and how these have impacted very recent debates and conversations surrounding transgender rights legislation right here in Canada.
5. Gender Politics and Trans Liberation (11:15 – 11:45)
Twentieth-century feminism sparked some of the first discussions and debates that critiqued gender essentialist positions on sex and gender with newly-emerging social constructionist interpretations. This question has influenced all gender-related discourse since.
We’ll look briefly at what this debate means, at how the trans movement incorporated elements of this into its own development, and at the way these concepts impacted strategies for trans liberation.
(Questions 11:45 – 12:00)
(Lunch break 12:00 – 1:00)
Part Two: (1pm to 4:30pm)
6. Beginning a Transgender Life (1:00 – 1:30)
We’ll look at three key aspects of identifying publically as a trans or gender-variant person:
- The Coming Out Process and the challenges, opportunities and risks it poses
- Transitioning strategies, whether medical or non-medical
- The concept of “passing,” and the benefits and risks it poses to the trans community
7. Facing Societal Challenges (1:30 – 2:00)
Attitudes appear to be changing, but slowly. Trans people routinely face daunting challenges:
- Public access obstacles (photo ID, services, housing, gender-segregated spaces)
- Medical access concerns (whether for medical or non-medical transitions)
- Higher instance of poverty and unemployment
- Travel uncertainty (whether local, national or international)
- Heightened risk of societal abuse, both physical and verbal
- Possible ostracism and loneliness (fewer friendships, less romance)
8. Workplace Challenges (2:00 – 2:15)
The workplace brings many of these challenges into one space: the social challenge of acceptance, the public access challenges of being a newly-hired trans employee or of transitioning in a workplace, the education of other staff members in a manner that is effective but low-stress, and the balancing of a duty to accommodate when two different employees perceive a conflict in the exercising of their rights.
Depending on the workspace, providing a trans-positive environment might involve some very technical considerations, or it may also be as simple as a raised sensitivity and basic good sense that avoids asking unnecessary questions or making the sorts of enquiries that may seem well-intentioned but are actually intrusive and serve no purpose in the workplace.
(Questions 2:15 – 2:30)
(Break 2:30 – 2:45)
9. Examining Transphobic Discrimination:
How It Actually Presents Itself (2:45 – 3:00)
When it occurs, discrimination can be direct, indirect or subtle. It can manifest on an individual, person-to-person basis or reflect an organization’s systemic culture. It can emerge from a poisoned workplace environment or actually create that poisoned environment. Not only is it essential to recognize discrimination when it occurs, organizations have a responsibility to create environments and standards that prevent or reduce the risk that discrimination will emerge at all.
This is why examining the various ways that trans-phobic discrimination actually presents itself is a major step toward managerial awareness of what to look for as an early warning that something may be wrong. I will draw from twenty years of experience living and working openly as a trans person and give your organization a clear and candid insight into the everyday challenges we face.
10. Human Rights Codes,
and Corporate Liability (3:00 – 3:30)
Through the concepts of “vicarious liability” and the “organic theory of corporate liability,” there are various ways in which an organization may be challenged or held accountable for discriminatory practices or situations, regardless of intentionality.
Referencing recent trans rights advancements in the Ontario Human Rights Code, in Canada’s Human Rights Act and in the Criminal Code of Canada, we’ll cut through the media misinformation over what these protections actually entail, and look at how your organization can make intelligent decisions that reduce the risk of trans-discriminatory scenarios.
We’ll examine the duty to accommodate and the rights and obligations of all parties in the process of creating a trans-inclusive and trans-positive environment.
11. Trans-Inclusive Strategies
For Your Organization (3:30 – 4:00)
How gendered is your workplace? How many gender references impact the everyday functioning of your organization? Are they necessary? Are there reasonable bona fide requirements for providing your service or conducting your business in this manner? If this impacted employees, clients or customers negatively, could you demonstrate the necessity of this environment?
Explore your workplace culture to discover how many gendered references exist, whether in your databases and administrative forms, in your organization’s communications templates, in the actual physical workspace, and in your employees’ interactions with other employees, with clients or with customers.
(Questions and Discussion 4:00 – 4:30)