How to be LGBTQIA+ inclusive in less than 30 seconds

October 12, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources, ,

Creating a culture of belonging and inclusion requires interventions at multiple organizational levels — from the creation of systemwide policies to increasing access to dedicated resources. Organizational change can often be imperfect, difficult and slow-moving at times, but together we can all create safe spaces for one another in small ways.

At Michigan Medicine, we have begun tackling LGBTQIA+ inclusion by addressing an array of concerns voiced by the LGBTQIA+ Resource Group and allies across the health system. This includes creating gender neutral spaces and recognizing LBGTQIA+ allyship.

First, it is important to understand who the term LGBTQIA+ includes. It refers to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, or asexual and their allies.

A simple gesture goes a long way

LGBTQIA+ inclusion can show up in seemingly small and simple ways. How, you ask? Well, you can share your pronouns!

“When others use my correct name and pronouns, it signals that they are at least aware enough to respect me,” said Finn McRae, eLearning instructional designer in business IT for Health Information Technology & Services. “Being misgendered or deadnamed, reminds me of my otherness and, depending on the situation, I can feel disrespected, hurt or dysphoric. Every interaction with someone new causes anxiety until I hear them say my name and pronouns correctly.

“When your identity is a matter of national debate, being respected at work and at home makes you feel less alone, less afraid and more welcome.”

What are pronouns?  

Pronouns are markers of a person’s identity. It’s how people refer to you in conversation — she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs.  

“Sharing your pronouns is an opportunity for everyone to learn, create change and establish visibility so someone doesn’t stay in the closet for the rest of their lives,” said Adeyemi Obanjoko, administrative assistant in the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion. “It’s fast, easy, costs you zero dollars and, most importantly, it’s an instant signifier of respect and affirmation for gender diverse people.”

Why are pronouns important?  

People may use a variety of pronouns for their own reasons and you can’t always know how a person might identify by just looking at them, their name or even hearing their voice. By including your pronouns when introducing yourself, asking people theirs, and respecting and using those pronouns, you can help to create a culture of belonging and inclusion.  

This patient story also explains the importance of using pronouns and how it affects an individual’s well-being.

Interested in continuing this conversation?  

Sign up for the Michigan Medicine “LGBTQIA+ Awareness and Inclusion: An Introduction to Inclusive Language” workshop. The workshop is focused on helping staff, faculty and learners use their influence to create a more inclusive health care environment for the LGBTQIA+ community.

This interactive learning experience is designed to support participants in developing a foundational knowledge and the reflective skills necessary for contributing to an environment that respects the differences and diversity of people at Michigan Medicine, including their bodies, genders and relationships. 

The LGBTQIA+ Awareness and Inclusion: An Introduction to Inclusive Language workshop will:

  • Equips the community to understand LGBTQIA+ terminology and concepts related to gender identity, gender expression and attractionality.
  • Increase awareness and importance of respecting names and pronouns.
  • Identify practices for LGBTQIA+ inclusivity and support.
  • Discuss next steps from a learning, engagement and allyship context.

Registration information

To register for this training, please visit: https://ohei.med.umich.edu/professional-development

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