Guest column: Supporting trans and non-binary students, staff and faculty

Dora Frias and Megan Skeehan

Dora Frias, director of the Pride Resource Center, and Megan Skeehan, chair of the Classified Personnel Council.
Photo by William A. Cotton, CSU Photography

Over the past few months, the Pride Resource Center, Women and Gender Advocacy Center and the Women & Gender Collaborative have begun to refocus work on supporting trans and non-binary students, faculty, and staff on the Colorado State University campus. This focus is not new to our campus; previous efforts have resulted in establishing all gender restrooms and preferred name policies.

Current efforts seek to expand the coalition of allies who work to further shift systems, policies, and practices to make our campus an inclusive space for all. Our most recent Employee Climate Survey has revealed a variety of issues that trans and non-binary staff and faculty face on our campus, and LGBTQ+ students are struggling with issues of mental health at far greater rates than their peers, according to the 2017 National College Health Assessment disseminated by the CSU Health Network.

The Pride Resource Center and Women and Gender Advocacy Center have collaborated on an educational poster campaign with tips for supporting transgender people. You can learn more about this collaboration and even find the poster to download and print here. These tips are not a one-size-fits-all model, and they are intended as a starting point for engaging in the culture change needed to support our trans and non-binary community.

In addition, several committees have been formed, including a Trans and Non-Binary Oversight and Support Group to help concentrate current campus efforts and identify needs that have not been addressed.

  • Through the Women & Gender Collaborative, there are new committees identifying policies and practices to better serve trans and non-binary employees, and an employee LGBTQ+ Network to build community.
  • The Feminist Fight Club at CSU is working on a tip sheet for supporting trans and non-binary individuals that will include “fight moves” you can use to create a more gender-inclusive culture.
  • The Employee Climate Committee is working on processing the 2018 Employee Climate Survey data now, where employees were able to report their gender identity. Having data from this survey will help to inform what needs are on campus regarding culture and climate.
  • The President’s Commission on Women and Gender Equity is planning to offer a series of workshops this spring to help educate faculty on trans inclusive pedagogy in the classroom.
  • The President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion has new subcommittees working on data collection and systems, as well as creating a pronoun statement for the University that will include resources and educational information for the campus and Fort Collins community.
  • The CSU Health Network is continuing its efforts with the Transgender Health Care team as well as creating a group to address the mental health concerns of LGBTQ+ students.

Ultimately, these efforts cannot be successful without the support of the broader campus community. Proactive efforts from all units and departments on campus are needed to improve the campus climate for trans and non-binary students, faculty and staff.

If you would like to learn more, consider signing up for a Safe Zone training, host a Visible Voices panel, or visit the current photo exhibition at the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art. You can educate yourself on gender identities and read books or articles written by trans individuals. If you receive feedback, be open to it and work to shift behaviors. Finally, if you would like to directly support LGBTQ+ students, consider donating to the GLBT Scholarship fund.

Dora Frias is the director of the Pride Resource Center, and Meg Skeehan is the chair of the Classified Personnel Council at Colorado State University.