Transgender Awareness Week

November 14-20, 2014 is Transgender Awareness Week!

Transgender Awareness Week is an opportunity for students, educators and community members to increase visibility of the transgender community and to raise awareness of the experiences of transgender and gender nonconforming students, who often face hostile school environments. For example, the 2013 National School Climate Survey found that 42.2% of transgender students had been prevented from using their preferred name and/or pronoun. Additionally, more than one fifth (22.8%) of transgender students said they were not out at school about being transgender (this included 3.4% who were not out at all, and 19.4% who were out in general (i.e., about their sexual orientation), but not about their transgender identity specifically), perhaps because of a negative school climate or lack of acceptance at school or from family members.

Transgender Awareness Week starts on Friday, November 14th and ends on Transgender Day of Remembrance ,Thursday, November 20th, when communities across the globe memorialize those whose lives were lost due to anti-transgender fear, bigotry and hatred. For more information about Transgender Day of Remembrance or to find and event near you, please visit the official website.

In honor of Transgender Awareness Week, encourage everyone to learn more, raise awareness and take action. Here are some things you can do to counteract anti-transgender bias, prejudice and discrimination in your school:

Learn More About the Issues

  • What rights do transgender and gender nonconforming students have at school? Check out GLSEN and the ACLU's Know Your Rights guide in the Resource Download box to the right.
  • Learn about the experiences of transgender and gender nonconforming students in the 2013 National School Climate Survey.
  • GLSEN research shows that transgender and gender nonconforming students experience high levels of victimization for being who they are. Watch our research webinar for all the findings.
  • Add to your knowledge of transgender people and history! Learn about six notable "Transgender Heroes" in the Resource Download box to the right. 
  • Increase your knowledge by brushing on concepts and terms around gender! Check out the Terms section below. 
  • Check out these two leading national organizations that do amazing advocacy on behalf of the transgender and gender nonconforming community.
National Center for Transgender Equality Transgender Law Center


Get Involved and Take Action

  • Check out and connect with Transgender Student Rights, a community of youth dedicated to creating safe spaces for transgender and gender nonconforming students.
  • Students, find out how you can be an ally to transgender and gender nonconforming students on Transgender Day of Remembrance and every day with the resource in the box to the right. Then, check out the related resource created for GLSEN's Ally Week. 
  • Educators, find out how to best support your transgender and gender nonconforming students by watching this webinar and checking out the accompanying educator resources.Then, listen and utilize Jamison Green’s story from Unheard Voices in your discussions around raising awareness of transgender issues. 
  • Community Members and Policy Makers, advocate for trans-inclusive policies in your district with this Model District Policy on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students in the Resource Download box to the right. 


Brush up on Gender Terms

The terms below are designed to provide a basic understanding of words, phrases and ideas related to gender. It’s important to note that all language is constantly evolving; new terms are introduced, while others fade from use or change their meaning over time. This remains true for the following terms and definitions.

Gender: A set of cultural identities, expressions and roles – codified as feminine or masculine – that are assigned to people, based upon the interpretation of their bodies, and more specifically, their sexual and reproductive anatomy. Since gender is a social construction, it is possible to reject or modify the assignment made, and develop something that feels truer and just to oneself.

Gender Binary: A socially constructed system of viewing gender as consisting solely of two categories, “male” and “female”, in which no other possibilities for gender are believed to exist. The gender binary is inaccurate because it does not take into account the diversity of gender identities and gender expressions among all people. The gender binary is oppressive to anyone that does not conform to dominant societal gender norms.

Gender Identity: How an individual identifies in terms of their gender. Gender identities may include, “androgynous,” “cisgender,” “genderqueer” “female,” “male,” “transgender,” and many others, or a combination thereof. It’s important to remember that these terms are about self-identification; no one can tell anyone else how to identify or what terms to use.

Gender Expression: The multiple ways (e.g., behaviors, dress) in which a person may choose to communicate gender to oneself and/or to others.

Preferred Gender Pronouns (PGPs): The pronoun or set of pronouns that a person would like others to call them by, when their proper name is not being used. Traditional examples include “she/her/hers” or “he/him/his”. Some people prefer gender-neutral pronouns, such as “ze/hir/hirs,” “zie/zir/zirs,” “ey/em/eirs,” “per/per/pers,” “hu/hum/hus,” or “they/them/theirs”. Some people prefer no pronouns at all.


NOTE: It's also important to remember that for each of us, our gender identity, how we identify in terms of our gender, is distinct from our sexual orientation, who we are attracted to emotionally and physically. Everyone has both a gender identity and a sexual orientation.

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