Everyone plays a part in promoting and supporting an inclusive workplace. Employees, supervisors and managers have a shared responsibility to promote the dignity and respect of transgender, non-binary and Two-Spirit employees. As part of building a safe and validating campus, the workplace should reflect the diversity of our larger communities and every person should be treated equitably. The following information aims to help increase the understanding of gender identity and provide resources for trans, non-binary and Two-Spirit people and those who support them.

Gender identity is one’s felt sense of being a woman, a man, both, in between or neither. Understandings of gender can be shaped by culture, relationships, and media (among many other things!), but only you can determine your gender identity.

Gender expression is the external display of one’s gender, and can include style of dress, voice, hairstyle, and demeanor. Gender expression is often described on spectra of masculinity and femininity, covering everything in between and beyond as well. It also varies by context. You may change how you express yourself depending on the situation you are in such as at school or work, home alone or out with friends.

When someone is transgender, also known as trans, their gender identity differs from the sex that they were assigned at birth (usually male or female, although about 1.5% of the population are intersex). People may know from a young age that the gender they have been assigned doesn’t fit with who they really are. Other people come to this realization as adults. 

Some trans people take steps towards aligning their social and physical experience with their gender identity. In doing this, each trans individual makes a personal choice about which changes (if any) they want to make and when. Some trans people may change their name, pronouns, gender markers (i.e. on identification) and/or their presentation. Some may explore medical options like hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgeries. Every trans person’s transition will be unique to them – there is no “right way” to be trans or to transition. The choices someone makes are personal and private; as colleagues, the main point to remember is that this person needs to be treated with the same respect we afford everyone else.

While sexual orientation and gender identity can be connected, they aren’t the same thing. Like anybody, trans people may identify as straight, pansexual, queer, asexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay or another orientation. Language is continuously evolving – the definitions provided are not meant to label individuals, but rather to assist employees and managers to better understand and support colleagues with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Support: If you are trans

If you are trans, it’s important to know that UVic has a commitment to fair treatment for all employees, and does not permit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. We provide support for managing a transition in the workplace, and for any discrimination or harassment you might encounter through Human Resources and the Equity and Human Rights office. You are welcome to contact whichever office or person feels most appropriate and comfortable for you.

If you would like to find support in planning for or managing your transition, there are local and online groups as well as resources through UVic:

Some useful services, resources, and online organizations:


Support: Supervisor, Manager, Colleague or Parent

It is up to the employee to decide if and when they wish to inform people at work about their gender identity, and what supports they will find most helpful to bring ease to this process. Remember, this is everyone’s transition: you can play a role in pushing for social and environmental changes so that your trans colleagues don’t have to. Your responsibilities include:

*With thanks to Kingsley at Ambit for your assistance with this post.