Transgender Awareness Week
Editorial Note: This post is part of our blog series about diversity, equity, and inclusion. These posts are written by staff on our Equity Committee and originally shared internally. We're sharing them publicly to be transparent about our internal dialogue, reflections and learning process as we work on being an anti-racist organization.
Transgender Awareness Week runs every year from November 13 to November 19. People and organizations around the country participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise the visibility of transgender people and address issues members of the community face (source).
How does Bellwether Housing fit into Transgender Awareness Week?
Every one of us plays a role in helping people feel like they have a place here and are welcomed. Bellwether employees may be trans themselves and/or have worked with current or prospective tenants who are transgender. Here’s one employee’s memory of an interaction with a resident where simply asking for pronouns helped assure the resident they were being heard and respected:
A tenant came into the office one morning, tense and visibly upset. They weren’t getting responses to any emails they sent to management, and were worried it was because they were trans as they had experienced discrimination in their past. As this person finished their explanation, I said, “May I ask your pronouns?” With a smile, they answered, “He, him.” As I gave him a quick thank you, offered my own pronouns, and started talking about how I could help, his shoulders relaxed and we came to agree on some next steps.
Aside from following fair housing law and having respectful daily interactions with trans tenants, what else has Bellwether done to make our buildings more welcoming and safer for trans residents?
In 2022, the Property Management team created a voluntary supplemental demographics survey for residents which includes gender identity fields. Read here to learn about why data collection is so important for the LGBTQ community.
In 2020, Bellwether’s HR & IT team worked together to add employees’ pronouns to email signatures on a voluntary basis.
Property Management overhauled the requirements in our tenant screening application in 2019, and again in 2020 and 2021 to be less restrictive. These changes benefit trans people, who disproportionately face homelessness and incarceration. Here are some ways the requirements changed:
Lessened prior eviction restrictions
Lessened qualifying income requirements
Eliminated need to provide outside proof of bank account amounts
Since 2014, Real Estate Development has included all-gender bathrooms in resident common areas of new developments instead of gender-segregated ones.
What are things Bellwether could do in the future?
Recommend or sponsor LGBTQ-specific trainings for employees
Currently, our resident data collection system will only accommodate male, female, and declined to report when it comes to demographics information. Bellwether could advocate that the vendor who provides this system to update their software to reflect more inclusive gender options, such as the “X” gender that is now available for U.S. passports, Washington State licenses, and WA birth certificates (source).
To learn more about transgender people and issues important to them, check out GLAAD's trans facts. This is a great resource for how to be an ally, too.
For info about transgender people and the workplace, check out Out & Equal. This site also has resources in Spanish and Portuguese.
To learn about transgender students and issues important to them, check out GLSEN. This is also a great resource for educators and parents.