Reflection on the 2024 Transgender Day of Visibility

Transgender Day of Visibility, held annually on March 31, invites us to celebrate transgender and non-binary community members and recognize their many contributions to the society, including here at UBC.

We are proud to uplift transgender (trans) and non-binary community members at UBC and celebrate their strength, resilience and joy – all the more important in light of a continued trend of intensified, hate-filled anti-trans efforts aimed at disrupting progress made on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) education, gender-affirming practices in schools, and access to gender-affirming car, and sports, spaces, services and shelters aligned with one’s gender.

Targeting of trans and non-binary communities is, however, not just limited to the political forums or policy domains. Even with consideration of being typically under-reported, police reported hate-crimes based on sexual orientation, sex and gender have all continued to increase, along with warnings of a threat of extreme violence.

Amidst these efforts to silence and make invisible, here, at UBC, we are working to provide a different environment – a safe and welcoming community for trans and non-binary students, faculty and staff.

We remain steadfast in our commitments to trans inclusion and are proud to recognize the many trans and non-binary community members coming together in mutual support, resistance, advocacy, joy – as well as struggle – in order to bring visibility and advocate for their rights and systemic changes. Trans and non-binary students, faculty and staff – we see you and we value you as vital members of the university.

Recognizing leadership of trans and non-binary community members

In the spirit of celebration, recognition and visibility, the following trans community groups and individuals are just some of the continued examples of changemakers working to enhance trans inclusion:

  • UBC Trans Coalition: for their successful efforts to expand gender affirming care provided through the AMS and continued advocacy to improve the experiences of trans students at UBC, including through work with Student Health, Student Housing, and the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice.
  • UBC Trans Mentorship Program coordinators Al Huuskonen and Clio Lake: for their continued leadership on supporting trans community members at UBC through the Trans Mentorship Program. Created in 2020, the program has to date engaged 145 applicants or 71 mentor-mentee pairs, and the numbers continue to trend up. The program provides valuable support to trans community members navigating the university, including across academia, careers, and life.
  • Trans community members at UBC: for sharing their perspectives and experiences as part of a community consultation to inform the development of UBC’s inclusive washroom guidelines. Report on the consultation and guidelines are forthcoming.

Our commitment and progress

Integrated into the Strategic Equity and Anti-Racism (StEAR) Roadmap for Change as strategic priorities, institutional efforts are underway to activate Trans, Two-spirit and Gender Diversity Task Force recommendations aimed at building more trans inclusive classrooms, workplaces, programs, community spaces, services, and information systems.

Responding to specific recommendations to support trans and non-binary students’ health, UBC’s Student Health has worked to enhance the capacity of staff, protocols and processes around the use of pronouns, acceptance, and with respect to internal resources and referral knowledge.

Broadly across the university, efforts have included the development of forthcoming inclusive washroom guidelines, addition of new family planning benefits, and expansion of gender marker options in the forthcoming release of Workday Student, UBC’s new student information system. In fall of 2023, as a result of a partnership with the Musqueam First Nation, UBC installed a Coast Salish Two-spirit Mosaic. The mosaic – designed by Mack Paul (xwməθkwəy̓əm) – is a symbol of Coast Salish Two-Spirit unity, dignity, respect and support for Two-Spirit/Indigenous LGBTQ+ programming and community members. It is also an acknowledgement of the land, identities and experiences of Two-Spirit ancestors and relatives. In support of 2SLGBTQIA+ specific programming, some $18,800 has been allocated to community-led initiatives through the StEAR Enhancement Fund during the inaugural fall 2023 to spring 2024 cycle.

Beyond administrative efforts, as a university, we have a unique opportunity to generate knowledge and evidence that counters assumptions and hostile rhetoric and seeks to inspire more informed perspectives, understandings and practices – and shape a more inclusive world. A number of academic and research initiatives continue to generate and mobilize knowledge related to trans and non-binary people’s experiences, including through the work of Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre, Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity, SOGI@UBC, and the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice.

Ways to engage

On this Trans Day of Visibility, UBC will again raise the Trans flag across our campuses as a symbol of our institutional commitments and values. I encourage all of our community members to visit UBC’s Trans Day of Visibility page to learn about ways to get involved through events and access learning and support resources.

Trans and non-binary people regularly report and have a higher risk of experiencing discrimination, harassment, and violence. They also experience a higher incidence of mental health issues, primarily a result of experiences they encounter while navigating a cis-normative culture that creates systemic barriers and contributes to regular violence (administrative, symbolic, and even physical).

We can all play a part in shifting these patterns by supporting inclusion of trans and non-binary people. Ensuring we use pronouns, chosen names and inclusive language, that we demonstrate respect, bring attention to systemic challenges that are reported to us, and further our learning through the Positive Space: Foundations course are steps all of us can start taking.

Additionally, the following resources are available:

For more information on gender diversity, please visit UBC’s gender diversity knowledge hub.

Please note that while at UBC, you are entitled to learn, work and live in a discrimination-free, respectful environment. Your human rights at UBC are protected under UBC’s Policy SC7: Discrimination and the BC Human Rights Code. If, as a member of the T2SNB community, you have concerns related to your experiences at UBC, please contact our office at for support.

Arig al Shaibah
Associate Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion

Our priorities on trans inclusion

The following priorities have been identified in the Strategic Equity and Anti-Racism Roadmap. Priorities have been drawn from a range of institutional plans, including the Trans, Two-Spirit, and Gender Diversity Task Force report. Efforts across all priorities are in-progress.

  • Develop educational resources on gender diversity and inclusion in the classroom
  • Establish a protocol for name choice at every stage of the academic journey        
  • Develop a centralized TGNB information hub with wellness and inclusion resources
  • Increase access to TGNB-competent mental health providers through increased benefits
  • Explore opportunities to secure scholarships for TGNB students
  • Identify supports for TGNB athletes
  • Expand TGNB health and wellness initiatives (training practitioners, standard operating procedures (SOPs) and referral support)

Numbers and terms

Did you know?

  • Based on the 2023 Employment Equity Report, some 1.72 per cent of UBC employees identify as trans, non-binary or both.
  • Canada is the first country to provide census data on transgender and non-binary people.
  • Canadian Census results show that some 0.33 per cent of Canadian population, 15 years and older, identify as trans (0.19 per cent) or non-binary (0.14 per cent).
  • 58 per cent of T2SNB student, faculty and staff respondents to 2021 Gender Diversity Audit report a sense of belonging at UBC – compared to 79 per cent of their cisgender counterparts.

Learn the terms: Trans and non-binary

This expression refers to the diverse communities of people whose gender is different from the gender that they were assigned at birth. This phrase attempts to capture a shared experience with, and relationship to, gender, rather than specific identities; people may use many different words to describe their gender identity.