UBC Trans, Two-Spirit and Gender Diverse Task Force releases key recommendations for supporting inclusivity

The Trans, Two-Spirit and Gender Diversity (T2SGD) Task Force has released their final report addressing gender inclusivity at UBC.

The task force was formed in March 2020 to create actionable recommendations for UBC leadership on gender identity, gender expression and human rights.

Four priority recommendations were highlighted in the report, focusing on training and education, recruitment of T2SGD staff, gender data standards and T2SGD mental and holistic wellbeing.

“There’s been calls from the transgender and non-binary communities at UBC for a long time to see themselves better integrated and better involved in the… processes of the university,” said task force member and report co-author Dr. Hélène Frohard-Dourlent.

One of the report’s key recommendations is attracting and retaining T2SGD staff. The report recommends UBC job postings include explicit language encouraging those with intersectional identities to apply for positions, and consider lived experience an asset of applicants.

Another recommendation encourages expanding the education available around gender diversity, and creating incentives to complete training. For example, creating a badge system to allow community members to see what faculty and staff have completed additional courses on gender and sexuality.

Frohard-Dourlent said “marginalized students in general end up having to do quite a bit of [teaching]...a great way to work in solidarity with people who are marginalized is to make yourself aware enough of these issues [so] that you can take on the education when you see other people making mistakes.”

For students in leadership positions on campus, Frohard-Dourlent said taking the time to educate around “blind spots” is important, and ensuring that events are inclusive can make a huge difference.

“When you don't have to face some of the barriers that [T2SGD] people face, you might not even realize [them],” they explained.

For example, Frohard-Dourlent mentioned that some T2SGD people's legal names do not match their chosen names.

UBC still uses legal names for transcripts, residence contracts, and other official letters such as student loans.

In the report, the task force recommended that “legal first names be removed as the default first name used in information systems and correspondence.”

Frohard-Dourlent also referenced far-right events hosted on the UBC campus in 2019. One critiqued event was an anti-Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity talk in 2019 that resulted in UBC being banned from Vancouver’s Pride Parade that year.

“Folks in our in transgender and non-binary communities felt unsafe on our campus and felt like UBC wasn't providing a safe working and learning environment…there was a lot of repair that needed to be done with the community,” said Frohard-Dourlent.

This sentiment was reflected in the report’s recommendations for supporting the health and mental wellbeing of T2SGD community members. It advised that “campus and community safety be assessed and considered before accepting event bookings not sponsored, hosted, or endorsed by UBC and that the primacy of the University’s commitments to human rights be clarified in the new Academic Freedom policy.”

Frohard-Dourlent noted the task force’s diversity in terms of both personal identity and positionality on campus.

“We saw an opportunity at the Equity and Inclusion office with some key leaders and translators on campus to bring together this taskforce…[We] recognized the necessity of having people with lived experience contribute [to the task force].”

Going forward, Frohard-Dourlent highlighted the importance of intersectionality.

“These recommendations…don’t stand alone. They intersect with issues that have been brought forward by other marginalized communities on campus.”

Educational resources on sexuality and gender inclusivity:

Positive Space: For community members interested in learning more about sex, sexuality and gender diversity.

UBC’s Equity and Diversity Office has resources for sexual and gender diverse community members, including a student-created guide for Trans and non-binary students at UBC.