Crowdsource request: Coaching on appropriate language at LGBTQI Health Event

Following on what I felt was a meaningful and helpful Transgender Health Care Dialogue last year, we are excited this year to host the first ever Build Your Best Life Total Health Festival as part of Washington, DC’s Capital Pride. Kaiser Permanente is a Gold Sponsor of Capital Pride as well as Capital Transpride for 2014 (see: Innovation in equality: Celebrating and Sponsoring Transgender Person Pride, Washington, DC USA).

I was asked to help the volunteers who are staffing the event create a supportive, respectful atmosphere for our attendees, especially those individuals who are trans* and gender non-conforming, before the event begins.

I’ll say why that alone is awesome below. First, though….

I’ve reviewed some excellent guides on this subject (including this excellent one put out by the Fenway Institute: Affirmative Care for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People: Best Practices for Front-line Health Care Staff) and my own personal experience and I came up with these tips which I’ll elaborate on in the training.

Can you take a look and see if this is the best advice? What’s missing? What should be added? I want to give practical on-the-ground advice to people who are and are not clinicians.


Volunteer Orientation – Build Your Best Life: Total Health Festival
tips on supporting a welcoming environment – draft for comment

Why we’re doing this 

To support people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and their allies in achieving the best health for themselves and their communities.

How we’re doing this

  • By providing an atmosphere that is safe, comfortable, and fun for all involved
  • By demonstrating through our behavior and language that we welcoming and respectful of every person’s contribution and presence today
  • As members and allies of this community

Please Do

  • Focus on supporting an equal and supportive atmosphere
  • Introduce yourself and say hello
  • Ask attendees what their name is and thank them for coming
  • Let people know that we have gender neutral bathrooms on site
  • Apologize immediately for any errors made if any do happen
  • Refer to others using neutral pronouns or their name only, e.g. “They” or “Bill”
  • Report any anti-trans remarks or humor immediately
  • Find myself or any of the hosts if you have questions – we’re here to support you!

Please Don’t

  • Use gender specific pronouns (he, she, his, her) without asking an attendee
  • Do NOT use: Ms., Mr., Sir, Ma’am for any attendee
  • Do NOT use gender-specific pronouns to refer to another person even in the background
  • Use any slang/depersonalizing terms to describe people who are trans* or use “Transgender” as a noun – I’ll review verbally with the group
  • Make any assumptions about a person’s orientation or gender
  • Ask about gender or gender status – this is protected health information

I would also like to inlcude this 2 page handout: TRANS@MIT ALLIES TOOLKIT: Action Tips for Allies of Trans People


What do you think? Please post in the comments, or write me via the contact page

If you’re coming to the event and would like to help train, that would be great, too. Drop me a line. We’ll probably do it around 8:30 am this Saturday.

This wasn’t my idea, which makes it awesome

I’d like to point out that my colleagues at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health suggested that we do this training; it didn’t come from me. This is because they (@Kmontgomeryndc and @erinm81) have interacted with enough trans* people and others around them to know what respectful treatment is, and what it is not. We’ve all been in places where we wish that people had been educated prior to interacting with people in the trans* community, so I want to acknowledge that (a) There’s an ally around every corner and (b) it is a great gift for me to be asked by a colleague, “I thought of something that would help create a more healthy, supportive atmosphere, can you make it happen with me?”

Gender Neutral Restroom Center for Total Health 42365

And speaking of awesome colleagues, they (ok, @YenGreene ) also are working with our building management to bring this back. Again, no questions asked. They don’t just know that it’s the right thing to do, they just do it.

At the Center for Total Health we try really hard to model what all of health care should be like in everything we do. That’s why I call it a “social innovation center.”

See you on Saturday, and if you can’t make it, just watch out for the tweets and pictures: #CapitalPrideHealth

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