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SafeZone: Trans 101

By Dylan Baggiano

Students attending the Trans 101 SafeZone meeting on Wednesday said making changes in physical and online spaces and practicing mindful communication with our peers will create an inclusive community on campus.

The term “trans” is an umbrella term refering to any person who may or may not identify with the gender that is representative of a person’s secondary sex characteristics, according to Maeve Franklin, a junior and SafeZone peer educators.

“Pronouns, like gender, vary from person to person and should not be assumed by judging one’s physical appearance, alone,” said Davis Gustafson, a sophomore and SafeZone peer educator.

SafeZone peer educators spread knowledge and awareness on gender sexuality power and oppression. These volunteer undergraduates work to provide a safer space for members of the LGBTQ through friendly Q&As, according to the SafeZone page.

Screenshot from SafeZone: Trans101 Zoom conference

Using bathrooms that align to the gender of members of the trans community’s allow them to feel secure in their identity. Though UAB has added gender neutral bathrooms to some of the newer buildings on campus, students like Georgie Bennington, a senior, said the university needs to consider adding more

“The only buildings that have gender neutral bathrooms are University Hall the Hill and the Rec.,” said Bennington. “That’s not okay. There are so many older buildings on the other side of campus that don’t have any.”

Professors could encourage correct pronoun use by including their pronouns in their introductions to students, according to Catherine Colpo, a junior.

“Professors could include their pronouns in their email signature and on the syllabus,” Colpo said. “Make sure the professors know how to ask for a person’s pronouns in a respectful way.”

Sometimes asking a person’s pronoun can be difficult, so when you introduce yourself to someone, including yours can encourage another to do the same, according to Dawson Martin, a freshman. Martin said some of his teachers on Zoom have started to incorporate this change, online.

“Adding pronouns to the end of names on Zoom has definitely helped,” said Martin. “I know that as a freshman, I’ve met so many new people online, and having pronouns makes people feel more welcome and introductions less awkward.”

Students like Mary Proctor, a sophomore said that using “they” can have different meanings depending on the situation. The pronoun, “they,” does not always refer to one person.

“Even in middle school I used “they/them” to talk about my crushes,” Proctor said. “I used “they” when I didn’t want others to know my crush was a girl.”

Maeve Franklin, a junior, said that gender neutral language could also be used to avoid misgendering others. “They” could also be used to refer to a person when one’s gender is unknown.

“In school, teachers would always say that using ‘they’ to refer to one person is incorrect, since traditionally, ‘they’ refers to more than one,” said Franklin. “Often, people use ‘they’ to refer to someone when a person’s gender isn’t relevant or isn’t known. Even Shakespeare used it[they] back in the day!”

Edited By: Breeze Yancie, Diane Mwai & John H. Glenn

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Made By Students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham