Creating Positive Interactions with Transgender Students

Transgender students often say the faculty and staff they feel most comfortable with are those who:

  • Are caring and welcoming.
  • Avoid grouping students by gender in classes and/or activities, or designating certain tasks “male” or “female.” Doing so may force a transgender student to make a difficult, uncomfortable decision. Transgender students who live on campus are encouraged to discuss housing accommodations with the Director of Housing and Residential Life.
  • Ask how the student would like to be referred to (pronouns and first name). One approach may be to ask every student with whom you interact which name they prefer. Students typically approach faculty and staff to express pronoun preferences once they feel comfortable, but if a student identifies as transgender or gender questioning, a supportive response might be, “Which pronoun would you prefer I use?” It is important to note that how a student wishes to be referred to in class or other public settings may be different than in private meetings.
  • Avoid making assumptions about the individual’s sexual orientation. Sex, gender and sexual orientation are distinct features of an individual’s identity. An individual who was born biologically as a male (sex) but identifies as a woman (gender) may be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or any other sexual orientation.
  • Avoid making assumptions or asking questions about an individual’s physical transformation of his/her body. This is often an issue of curiosity. A transgender individual may never transition physiologically and may not feel they need to in the future.
  • Acknowledge when they make a mistake with a student’s preferred pronoun or name (it happens).
  • Always say something when you hear messages of sexism, homophobia, and transphobia from students and colleagues, even when it is not directed at a specific person (make it your problem). Challenging assumptions, stereotypes, and bias help to create an inclusive environment for all people.
  • Know about resources for transgender students, especially on campus.

Campus Resources

Office of Student Affairs
Peter Fowler, Associate Dean of Students
Beatty Hall 418 | fowlerp@wit.edu | 617-989-4082

Intercultural Center
Chris Haigh, Coordinator of the Intercultural Center & Associate Director of Student Leadership Programs
Beatty 418 | haighc@wit.edu | 617-989-4081

Counseling Center
Counseling for students is confidential and free-of-charge. The counselors in the Counseling Center are sensitive to gender issues and trained to assist students with questions or issues related to gender. Whenever appropriate, the Counseling Center also makes referrals and collaborates closely with other sources of support in the community.
Watson 003 | counseling@wit.edu |617-989-4390 | www.wit.edu/counselingcenter

Wentworth Alliance (WITA)
WITA is a group for GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) students and their allies. Students may contact WITA by emailing alliance@wit.edu.
Students may also contact Bill Farrick, WITA Advisor and Senior Co-op Advisor

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