Recognizing leadership of trans, Two-Spirit and non-binary students, faculty and staff

Portrait of Arig al Shaibah, Associate Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion
Arig al Shaibah, Associate Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion

March 31 is Trans Day of Visibility, an intentional opportunity to celebrate and recognize the valuable contributions of trans community members, but also to reflect on how we can all contribute to inclusion.

This year, I would like to recognize the following UBC community members for their dedication and leadership:

  • Dr. Harper Keenan, for his leadership through the Quartermain Professorship in Gender & Sexuality in Education, the SOGI UBC initiative, and scholarship and advocacy supporting self-determination surrounding gender and sexuality in schools.
  • Dr. Jehannine Austin, for their leadership in creating a space/affinity group for trans and gender-diverse faculty to connect and support one another.
  • The student-led Trans Coalition for its advocacy to improve access to gender-affirming care for UBC students.
  • Students who help coordinate the Trans Mentorship Program and the Gender Empowerment Store, two initiatives that work to enhance wellbeing and psychological safety for trans, Two-Spirit and non-binary (T2SNB) students at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan.
  • Dr. Hannah Kia and Jesse Grimaldi, alongside Dr. Janice Stewart, for their thoughtful and tireless leadership of the Trans, Two-Spirit and Gender Diversity Task Force.

Amidst these individual recognitions, I’d like to also express my thanks to all of the students, faculty and staff who sat on the Trans, Two-Spirit and Gender Diversity Task Force for their work to create a more trans-inclusive UBC.

Launched in March of 2020, the Task Force worked diligently to deliver a set of recommendations that will guide university’s efforts in the area of gender diversity.

As a university, we are committed to advancing equity and inclusion. Yet, when only 58 per cent of T2SNB student, faculty and staff respondents to the 2021 Gender Diversity Audit report a sense of belonging at UBC – compared to 79 per cent of their cisgender counterparts – it signals that more must be done to support their full inclusion. To make that happen, however, we also understand that we need to provide more educational opportunities, supportive processes and structures that can help cisgender staff and faculty in particular show up more effectively for trans students and colleagues.

With the release of the Task Force final report and the results of the Gender Diversity Audit on March 30, 2023, I have hope that with this renewed and clear direction of where to focus our efforts, we can make significant improvements to T2SNB students, faculty and staff’s experiences at UBC so that they can thrive.

I look forward to continuing efforts to support the implementation of all the Task Force’s recommendations under the guidance of the emerging Strategic Equity and Anti-racism Framework and Roadmap to Change. 

We can all support trans leadership and work to enhance a sense of belonging for trans students, faculty and staff. I encourage you to explore the new Positive Space Foundations course, familiarize yourself with the use of chosen names and pronouns, and well as resources for T2SNB employees and their managers.

If, as a member of the T2SNB community, you have concerns related to your experience at UBC, please contact our office at for support.

I encourage you to read the final report and explore some of the relevant resources of interest below.

Arig al Shaibah
Associate Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion

Resources of interest

Relevant events: