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Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center

          Washington State University (WSU) is committed to fostering a learning place culture that is welcoming to and inclusive of students of diverse backgrounds, identities, and experiences.  This includes transgender, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming students.  Student Guide to Transitioning at the University is intended to serve as a resource for students who are transitioning.  In addition, it articulates how WSU expects to support students who undertake a gender transition while attending the university.

          Anyone with questions about this guide are encouraged to contact the Director of GIESORC (defined below).  Anyone with concerns about discrimination or harassment based on protected characteristics, including gender identity/expression, should contact the Office of Civil Rights Compliance and Investigation (CRCI) and/or the Title IX Coordinator.  To learn or read more, you are encouraged to review the Resources for Additional Information section at the end of this document.

  • Acknowledgements

    This guidance draws on the structure and information provided by Western Washington University’s Guidance to Support Employees Transitioning in the Workplace.  WSU recognizes and appreciates this source of information.  Appreciation is also expressed to WSU faculty, staff, and students who have reviewed and provided input during the creation of this document.

  • Informing Your Supervisors, Advisors, and Faculty/Instructors

              Transgender students, just like all students at WSU, have the right to express their gender identities freely and openly.  All WSU staff, faculty, and administrators are responsible for maintaining a respectful and discrimination-free learning environment.  If you inform a supervisor, advisor, or instructor of your plan to transition, the university expects that they support you in whatever appropriate and professional ways they can.

              No student is expected to “out” one’s self at WSU, but communicating specific needs can be an integral part of receiving appropriate care and consideration from faculty, staff, and administrators.  This can include informing instructors, advisors, and supervisors if/when you would like to be referred to by a different name than what is listed on their roster, as well as informing them of the correct pronouns they should be using to refer to you.  As soon as you inform them of your correct name and pronoun, the WSU employee should honor this and move forward using the corrected information. If an individual were to continue to misgender and/or use your dead name it could be considered a violation of the WSU Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct (Executive Policy #15) if the specific conduct in the situation meets the policy standard for a violation.

              Every student is unique, and each transitioning student should be given the opportunity to transition in the way and on the timeline that is best for that individual.  All WSU employees are expected to support transitioning students and be respectful of student privacy and confidentiality before, during, and after transition.  Supervisors, advisors, and instructors should work together to implement transition-related changes requested by you, such as updating records.  If requested by you, the supervisor, advisor, or instructor will set expectations for any team, group, registered student organization (RSO), or student staff as part of facilitating a successful learning place transition.

              The fact that a student is transgender is private. This information should be discussed only on a need-to-know basis and with your clear consent (in line with FERPA). If an individual were to share this information without your consent it could be considered a violation of the WSU Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct (Executive Policy #15) if the specific conduct in the situation meets the policy standard for a violation.

  • Key Definitions and Concepts

    Agender is a term used to describe those who experience very little to no gender at all, or those who reject the concept of gender.

    Androgynous is an expression of gender that has both, has neither, or is in between masculine and feminine qualities.

    Cisgender is a term describing someone whose gender identity aligns with gender identity traditionally associated with the sex assigned at birth.  “Cis” is a shorthand term for “cisgender.”

    Gender Dysphoria is the conflict an individual may feel between their physical or assigned sex/gender and the gender with which they identify.  It is often described as feeling like they are not in the right body and being constantly reminded of this.  Not all transgender folks experience dysphoria. Dysphoria can exist on a spectrum and can change in severity from day-to-day or moment-to-moment.  Dysphoria is completely different and separate from dysmorphia.

    Gender Expression describes the many outward manifestations of one’s gender identity, such as style of dress, vocal tone, and mannerisms.  Gender expression may be socially or culturally relative.

    Gender Identity is a person’s internal, deeply-felt sense of being a woman, a man, or some other gender.  One’s gender identity may be different from gender identity traditionally associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.  Every individual – including transgender individuals – knows best what their gender identity is.  Everyone has the right to self-identify their gender and no one should force or pressure someone to identify.

    Gender Roles are expectations that society places on the binary men and women genders, which often restrict people from feeling as though they can be themselves without fear of backlash for not fitting into their assigned gender roles.  Alternatively, individuals may feel as though they are not “man enough” or “woman enough” if they do not fit society’s gender roles.

    GIESORC (pronounced “gee-sork”), also known as the Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center, is the office on the Pullman campus that provides resources, community building, programming, and assistance for students, faculty, and staff who want to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community or who are seeking community within a queer space.

    Intersex is a sex assignment and/or gender identity used to describe those who do not fit into typical physical definitions of male or female.

    Non-Binary is a gender identity that is outside of the man/woman binary, and includes those who are neither man nor woman, or who experience a combination of both.

    Pansexual/-romantic is a term describing someone who is capable of being sexually/romantically attracted to any and all genders.

    Polyamorous is a term describing someone who desires relationships with more than one person.  Polyamorous relationships are not cheating, though they do require trust, open communication, and honesty.

    Queer was (and sometimes still is) used as a derogatory term but is more often now reclaimed as an inclusive term referencing broad communities of sexual and gender identities that fall outside of dominant categories.

    Romantic Orientation refers to one’s romantic and/or emotional attraction.  Though these often align, for some folks their sexual and romantic orientations may not be the same.

    Same gender loving is a term often used by black and African American communities as an alternative to gay, lesbian, etc.

    Sex is a social construction based on a person’s anatomy; only two categories are regularly recognized (male/female), but this is changing due to intersex activists.

    Sex/Gender Assignment (AFAB, AMAB) is the binary label (male/female) that doctors give to an infant at or before birth, most often based on their genitals.  The terms Assigned Female at Birth (AFAB) and Assigned Male at Birth (AMAB) are often used to specify the sex that was given to an individual, regardless of their gender identity.

    Sexual Orientation refers to one’s sexual attraction, not necessarily their romantic and/or emotional attraction, though often these align.  A person’s sexual orientation is distinct from their gender identity.

    Transgender, broadly speaking, is an umbrella term describing a person whose gender identity is different from the gender identity traditionally associated with the sex assigned at birth.  Some transgender individuals identify simply as women or men, and not as transgender, while some transgender folks identify as non-binary, genderqueer, androgynous, or another gender outside of the gender binary.  “Trans” and “Trans*” are shorthand terms for “transgender.”

    Transition refers to the process by which a transgender person may bring their gender expression, legal and/or non-legal gender markers on documents and records, and/or physical characteristics, into conformity with their gender identity.

    Not all transgender people transition, and not all people who transition go through a transition process that includes medical steps such as hormone therapy or surgeries.  Transitioning is a very personal process, and there are many ways to transition.  Every student who transitions is entitled to respect, regardless of the particulars of how or whether they transition.  Also, not all transgender students must transition in any way in order to identify as transgender.

  • Informing Your Supervisors, Advisors, and Faculty/Instructors (1)

    Transgender students, just like all students at WSU, have the right to express their gender identities freely and openly.  All WSU staff, faculty, and administrators are responsible for maintaining a respectful and discrimination-free learning environment.  If you inform a supervisor, advisor, or instructor of your plan to transition, the university expects that they support you in whatever appropriate and professional ways they can.

             No student is expected to “out” one’s self at WSU, but communicating specific needs can be an integral part of receiving appropriate care and consideration from faculty, staff, and administrators.  This can include informing instructors, advisors, and supervisors if/when you would like to be referred to by a different name than what is listed on their roster, as well as informing them of the correct pronouns they should be using to refer to you.  As soon as you inform them of your correct name and pronoun, the WSU employee should honor this and move forward using the corrected information. If an individual were to continue to misgender and/or use your dead name it could be considered a violation of the WSU Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct (Executive Policy #15) if the specific conduct in the situation meets the policy standard for a violation.

             Every student is unique, and each transitioning student should be given the opportunity to transition in the way and on the timeline that is best for that individual.  All WSU employees are expected to support transitioning students and be respectful of student privacy and confidentiality before, during, and after transition.  Supervisors, advisors, and instructors should work together to implement transition-related changes requested by you, such as updating records.  If requested by you, the supervisor, advisor, or instructor will set expectations for any team, group, registered student organization (RSO), or student staff as part of facilitating a successful learning place transition.

             The fact that a student is transgender is private. This information should be discussed only on a need-to-know basis and with your clear consent (in line with FERPA). If an individual were to share this information without your consent it could be considered a violation of the WSU Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct (Executive Policy #15) if the specific conduct in the situation meets the policy standard for a violation.

     

     

  • Transitioning within a Team, Class, or Other Group of Folks

    So that WSU can best support you through your learning place transition, if you so choose, you can meet with your supervisor/advisor/instructor and the Director of GIESORC to discuss topics including the following:

    1. The role you would like your supervisor/advisor/instructor and/or GIESORC to play in communicating with the team, class, or RSO, and others on campus about your transition;
    2. (If needed and relevant) Establishment of a flexible timeline for your transition in relation to the team, class, or RSO. This may include items such as anticipated time off for transition-related medical care, when to inform other students, and when to update your name in the university systems.
    3. Whether you believe an educational workshop or facilitated conversation would be beneficial for the team, class, or RSO, and further the maintenance of a respectful learning environment. If you think this would be beneficial, you will also discuss timing, content, participants, and whom should be conducting the training.  You should never be required to participate in the training or conversation, but should be invited to do so.

  • Privacy

         Students may choose to discuss their gender identity openly or keep information private.  As a general rule, supervisors, advisors, and instructors may not disclose without your written consent private information that reveals that you identify as transgender, plans to transition, etc.  Private information may be shared by people other than you to the extent necessary for individuals to do their jobs. If an individual were to share this information without your consent it could be considered a violation of the WSU Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct (Executive Policy #15) if the specific conduct in the situation meets the policy standard for a violation.

  • Names and Pronouns

         All students have the right to be addressed and referred to by the name and pronouns they use.  Changing one’s sex marker with external administrative agencies (e.g. Department of Licensing or Social Security Administration) or obtaining a legal name change may not be a prerequisite to using a student’s correct name and pronouns.  You should be aware that the deliberate use of an incorrect name and/or pronouns of any student could be considered a violation of EP 15.  If you feel that a student or employee of WSU is harassing you, please contact CRCI or the Director of GIESORC immediately.

  • Updating University Records and Systems

         Unfortunately, the name and gender marker change process at WSU is a complicated and difficult one.  Please consult our online resource for detailed instructions at https://thecenter.wsu.edu/resources/transstar-student-resources/wsu-name-change-processes/.  For instructions on how to change your name and gender marker externally to WSU, visit https://thecenter.wsu.edu/resources/transstar-student-resources/externally-changing-your-name/.  This website details the name/gender marker change process through the county courthouse, the Department of Licensing, your birth certificate, and the Social Security Administration Office.  In the time being, you could choose to update your “nickname” in WSU systems as your chosen name; staff, faculty, and administrators are expected to utilize nicknames over official names.

  • Dress Code

         WSU does not have gender-specific dress codes; any department, organization, or event dress codes should be gender-neutral.  If you run into any dress code that is not gender-neutral, please feel free to contact CRCI or the Director of GIESORC.

  • Access to Restrooms and Locker Rooms

    You have the right to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with your gender identity.  This right is protected by Washington state law.  Gender inclusive and/or single-use restrooms and locker rooms are available for any student who wishes to use such a facility.  Information about gender inclusive/single-use facility locations can be found at https://thecenter.wsu.edu/resources/gender-inclusive-restrooms-locker-rooms/.

  • On-Campus Housing and Bathrooms

    Outing yourself to the folks who choose where you live can be an intimidating process, but requesting that your bathroom and privacy needs be met is critical to your comfort and your ability to learn as best you can while at WSU.  It might be a good idea to begin by contacting the Director of GIESORC, who can help you communicate with Housing and Residence Life in order to get the accommodations you need in place.

         If you have not moved onto campus yet, you can contact the Housing Office directly at housing.wsu.edu or 509-335-1227.  Speaking with the assignments coordinator in conjunction with the Director of GIESORC will be the best and most direct way to ensure that they place you in a room and residence hall or apartment that meets your specific needs.

         If you are already living in a residence hall or apartment and would like to request a room and/or residence hall change, you should speak to your hall’s Residential Education Director (RED).  They will work with the REDs of other residence halls in order to find you a room/hall that meets your needs.  Please note that during the fall semester, many halls have waiting lists; if you end up on waiting lists but need an immediate change of location, make sure to express this to your RED, and they will look into possible temporary options.

  • Medical Needs

         There are many options both on and off campus in order to meet your mental, emotional, and physical health needs.  For a list of off-campus trans*-friendly healthcare providers in the Palouse (including WSU Psychology Clinic), please visit https://thecenter.wsu.edu/resources/transstar-student-resources/transstar-friendly-health-care-providers/.

         On-campus resources under Cougar Health Services include primary care physicians, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and Behavioral Health Services.  Though CAPS does not have a specified gender therapist, all counselors and therapists within this department are able to provide gender therapy.  CAPS also hosts the Trans*cend gender diversity support group (https://cougarhealth.wsu.edu/counseling-groups-workshops/).

         If needed, you can access hormone replacement therapy (HRT) through CHS simply by calling and making an appointment.  Gender therapy is not required prior to receiving HRT.

  • Discrimination and Harassment

        WSU policies (EP 15) and the Washington Law Against Discrimination explicitly prohibit discrimination and harassment based on gender identity and expression.  All WSU staff, faculty, and administrators are responsible for following the provisions of EP 15.  Supervisors are responsible for promptly addressing discrimination and harassment, including behavior taking the form of jokes, in consultation with CRCI.  You should also be aware that most WSU employees have EP 15 reporting requirements, meaning that if they learn of discrimination and/or harassment, they may be required to report that information to CRCI.  If that occurs, CRCI will reach out to you with resources and reporting options; you may decide whether or not you’d like to work with CRCI.  If you do have a concern about discrimination or harassment based on gender identity or expression, you may contact CRCI directly for assistance or to make a complaint.  Alternatively, you can begin by speaking to the Director of GIESORC for advice or assistance on filing a complaint with CRCI.

  • Resources for Additional Information

    WSU Resources

     

    Resources beyond WSU