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A blue, pink and white Transgender flag beside a sign for an all-genders washroom.
June 18, 2020

Trans-inclusive Service and Care: Our Values in Action

Pride celebrations have been more subdued than usual this year due to COVID-19, but HHS continues to take action to improve inclusivity for the Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ communities.

This month marks the first anniversary of the Trans Inclusive Service and Care Plan (TISC) to make HHS a more gender-inclusive organization.

TISC, which is a collection of policies, tools, and projects, was launched at McMaster University Medical Centre last year with community members, staff and physicians present.

Trans-affirming washroom signage

Trans-affirming washroom signageTwo key components of the TISC are Trans-affirming washroom signage and all-gender washrooms. There are now more than 70 all-gender washrooms across all HHS sites, and more than 300 Trans-affirming washroom signs, which have been installed at King West, McMaster University Medical Centre and Hamilton General Hospital. Signs for the remaining sites will be added in the months ahead, as restrictions for COVID-19 ease.

Trans-affirming washroom signage does not change the designation of washrooms. Rather, the signage simply communicates to all that Trans, non-binary and Two-Spirit people have the right to use whatever washroom best fits their gender identity and gender expression, free from discrimination and harassment.

Trans-affirming signage was identified as one pathway forward in preventing discrimination and creating a safe and inclusive environment at HHS, says Ash Couillard, former co-lead of the Trans Inclusive Service and Care Program.

“Many LGBTQ2S+ folks look for affirming signage when we enter into a space because it signals safety, belonging, and that our human rights will be honoured,” says Couillard. “That was the essence of what we were trying to achieve when co-designing the trans-affirming washroom signage with trans, non-binary and two-spirit patients and staff. “

Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ Positive Space Training

A positive space is one that is welcoming and inclusive for everyone. This spring, HHS launched its redeveloped Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ Positive Space Training Program, which was informed by research and feedback from a number of internal and external stakeholders.

This program aims to increase awareness about the Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ community, reduce stigma, and build capacity for inclusive service and care environments for Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ patients and employees.

Allyship in Action Training

This spring, Human Rights and Inclusion launched a redeveloped Allyship in Action training program. Using new case studies on various forms of oppression developed from real-world examples, the program helps prepare staff to advocate for marginalized patients and colleagues.

“The training helps participants work through strategies to exercise Allyship and challenge oppression experienced by others, and recognizes that all oppressions are linked,” says participant Monica Bennett, a health promotion specialist. “For instance, LGBTQ2S+ Black people, people of colour, and Indigenous people are disproportionately affected by transphobia, biphobia and homophobia.”

Bennett says she found the training was a very positive learning experience that she found both rewarding and challenging,

“I was reminded that it’s not enough to have good information,” she says. “And that ‘ally’ is not a label. Ally is a verb; it’s your values in action.”

Although the pandemic may have put large-scale celebrations on hold, it has not paused the resolve of the many people who continue to work towards greater belonging and inclusion across all areas of our hospital.