Trans student success prompts new policies

Published On March 26, 2015 | By HN Staff | News
Cynthia Petersen, a lawyer spoke about transgender issues and diversity at Humber College.  (Photo by Maria-Josee Martinez)

Cynthia Petersen, a lawyer spoke about transgender issues and diversity at Humber College. (Maria-Josee Martinez/Humber News)

By Maria-Josee Martinez

Humber’s Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Diversity hosted a presentation this Thursday called “Working with Trans* Students in the Postsecondary Environment.”

This event, dedicated to the transgender community, covered topics about equal rights, demographics and awareness.

Cynthia Petersen, a partner at the law firm Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP., was the main presenter.

Petersen, who has been advocating for the LGBT community for many years, spoke about her work with post-secondary transgender students, and how she helps them succeed.

“I’m really glad Humber did this because I think all post-secondary institutions, colleges and universities should be doing this kind of training,” said Petersen.

She spoke about the importance of self-identification and rights for trans students.

They deserve to be treated like individuals both in college and the workplace, she said.

In February, Humber College introduced a new Gender Diversity policy, the contents of which were part of the discussion on Thursday.

Maureen Carnegie, the co-chair of Gender & Sexual Diversity Committee, said they are proud to initiate the gender policy.

“This gender policy affects everyone in the Humber community,” she said.

“I’m really glad Humber did this because I think all post-secondary institutions, colleges and universities should be doing this kind of training” – Petersen

Part of the new policy includes gender-inclusive language and all-gender bathrooms and change-rooms.

“I think it was incredibly important that Human Rights Equity and Diversity brought Cynthia into the college community because it helps people understand what the policy means, and raises awareness around trans issues,” said Carnegie.

The lecture also focused on the harassment and discrimination transgendered people go through on a daily basis.

According to a 2015 study in the Journal of Sex Research, recent estimates suggest that 1 in 200 Ontario adults may be trans, but an estimated 30 per cent of them were living their lives in their birth gender.

“When I spoke to some of my trans friends and clients about what they think would be really important, they all said education,” said Petersen.

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