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MAVA Voice

Change of Gender Identity
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Thank you Laura, this is very helpful! I appreciate the insights and the resource!


So I'll start this by stating I am a cis-gender queer woman (so coming at this as an ally, not a trans person).

My first thought is changing names does not necessarily mean that a person has a different gender identity than before (although the assumption could be correct). Gender identity and gender presentation and sexual orientation all ALL different. Assuming that the volunteer does identify as trans, know that every trans person is different, so there not a perfect set of rules to follow (obviously, I suppose). Therefore, I think it would be better to talk to the volunteer in person and ask what their preferred pronouns are.  Although it is a personal question, asking is better than constantly mis-gendering someone.  I don't know what kind of organization you are, but I also think it's a perfect time to think about how to be more inclusive generally.  Why not ask all volunteers their preferred names and pronouns during orientation?  Why not have preferred pronouns on name-tags?  Why not have (dare I say it!), a gender-neutral bathroom? Also, do some training or reading as a staff about terminology and do's and don'ts, so there are not major missteps.  Here is a link to the basics: 

Small steps can go a long way in making your space more inclusive for this particular volunteer but also trans folks more generally.

I hope that's helpful!

Hi All,

I have a volunteer planning to return, and this person has changed the gender of their name since the last time they volunteered with us. I invited them to let me know if they have a pronoun preference via email, and they did not respond to that particular part of the email. 

I want to make sure that they are re-boarded respectfully (both by me and other staff). I am pretty ignorant about gender identity and transitioning. I'm not a mind-reader, but I also recognize that perhaps people don't always want to be asked about their personal business.  This is new terrain for me and the organization, both. So I am wondering if anyone can recommend any helpful resources about this?

Thanks so much!

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