Transgender student impressed by new Humber policy

by | Mar 6, 2015 | News

Katie Pedersen
News Reporter

Hadley Bird says he’s got problems with his parents.

“I’m going to go straight to personal here — my parents are not accepting of this at all,” said Bird, a week before he’s scheduled to start his testosterone transition.

The 21-year-old is a transgender student studying Advertising and Graphic Design at Humber College. He says his mother refuses to call him by his new name and pointedly refers to him as female.

Although his family may not support his gender identity, his school now will, thanks to the detailed Gender Diversity Policy that became effective Feb. 10 by Humber’s Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Diversity.

Under the previous policy, discrimination against someone’s sexual orientation was not tolerated. Now, discrimination against someone’s gender identity is also condemned.

“We have to think of sex and gender as two different things,” said Jordan Orford, president of Beyond the Rainbow, a student-governed group at Humber that says it provides, “a safe, inclusive, confidential and friendly environment for LGBTQ+ students and allies.”

Jessica Bowen, advisor for Human Rights, Equity and Diversity at Humber, said the process has been thorough.

“There’s been an extensive consultation process with both internal stakeholders at Humber and then external stakeholders as well,” she said.

The policy provides clear definitions for terms like “cisgender,” “psychological harassment,” and “reasonable accommodation.” It also outlines how the public should respond in very specific situations like proving gender, using washrooms and reporting violations.

Even if it just starts controversy, even if that just gets them talking, then they can start to learn and be educated.

Bird said he was impressed by the detail in the policy.

“It listed some scenarios I’ve experienced with teachers (like) not using pronouns or (changed) names,” he said. “I’ve had a couple teachers where it’s just a slip up, no big deal, but I’ve had another prof who consistently gets it wrong, consistently calls me ‘she.’”

Orford said the policy will give trans students something to fall back on rather than leaving them in the “ambiguous grey area.”

Although this policy is a step forward for the trans community at Humber, Bird says people need more education about the trans community to get from “tolerance” to “acceptance.”

Bird said he finds issues of discrimination against trans people are ignorance.
“It’s not taught in sex ed so where are you going to learn it?” he said. “It’s like this elephant in the room and everyone ignores it. If we would just give it a little pat on the trunk or a peanut or something it would go away and everyone would be happy.”

He hopes the policy will spark conversation.

“Even if it just starts controversy, even if that just gets them talking, then they can start to learn and be educated,” he said.

Bird is not afraid to be the face of that conversation.