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How to Do Effective Gender Communication

How to Do Effective Gender Communication

©2001, 2017 by Penni Ashe, Gwendolyn Smith, Jamison Green, Dallas Denny, Jessica Xavier, and Sandra S. Cole

Citation: Ashe, Penni, Cole, Sandra S. Cole, Denny, Dallas, Green, Jamison, Smith, Gwendolyn, and Xavier, Jessica. (2001, 24 March). How to do effective gender education. Workshop presented at Transgender 2001, 15th Annual Convention, International Foundation for Gender Education, Chicago, IL, 22-25 March, 2001.


Gender Education Training for the New Millennium

Penni Ashe, Jamison Green, Dallas Denny, Gwendolyn Smith,

Jessica Xavier, and Sandra S. Cole


Description in IFGE Coming Together Program Book

Board Members of Gender Education and Advocacy will present GEA’s core educational philosophy, including our Gender Variance and Distributed Gender Education models; how to develop a local plan for gender education; and how to conduct gender education presentations for specific audiences.  The goal of the workshop is to empower those interested in becoming educational advocates for their local transgender communities.



Education has always been a key component of progressive social change benefiting minorities. Over the past thirty years, a sustained, diversified series of aggressive issue-specific public education campaigns have been instrumental in achieving gains in civil rights protections, as well as contributing to general public’s growing acceptance of gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

Groups like PFLAG, GLAAD, GLSEN, NYAC, COLAGE and GLMA have contributed significantly to these efforts, and many of them have been or become inclusive of gender variant people in their efforts.

Yet transgender people have yet to met the challenge of widespread public gender education, which must necessarily accompany a political movement to foster the latter’s eventual success. Where they live openly, transgender people continue to suffer from massive stigmatization and social marginalization, which facilitates widespread discrimination and violence.

The transpolitical movement has documented many cases of discrimination in the forms of denial of educational, employment and housing opportunities; familial rights; and health care.  As a movement, the time has come for us to prioritorize our public gender education efforts, in order to remove this stigmatization and restore our basic human dignity.

Gender Education and Advocacy is a new national non-profit organization with twin missions of education and nonpolitical advocacy in the areas of health and media.  By focusing on these areas, GEA seeks to improve the lives of all gender-variant people, regardless of their sexual orientation or individual identities.  Our educational approach is called Distributed Gender Education, with a goal of empowering local transgender organizations and individuals to take on the roles of educating their local communities.  This workshop will be the first in a planned series at various transgender conferences around the country in the coming years.

GEA’s board will present an overview and analysis of gender education efforts to date; our core educational philosophy, based upon current understandings of gender variance, including our Gender Variance model; Distributed Gender Education and how it works; how to develop a local plan for gender education; how to conduct gender education presentations; and how to deal with specific audiences, such as medical and mental health care providers; social service delivery staff; law enforcement and emergency medical services; media professionals; and peer education, including Transgender Care and HIV/STD education and prevention.  Newly developed gender educational materials will be made available for those attending. The goal of the workshop is to empower and recruit those interested in becoming educational advocates for their local gender variant communities.


Workshop Outline

I. Overview of Gender Education (GE)

The importance of GE and its relationship to the political and sociocultural movements.

The goals of gender education :

To increase public understanding of transgender people, leading to acceptance and tolerance;

De-stigmatization and demythification;

Normalization and humanization of our experience, leading to restoration of our human dignity;

Provision of Sensitivity and Awareness (S&A)

In-service training for health care and social service providers, removing barriers to and improving access of care;

Provision of S&A training for law enforcement and EMS personnel, reducing entrapment, false arrests, and the denial of civil rights and emergency care;

Advocacy with health care organizations and governmental regulatory agencies, leading to the wider provision and improvement of transgender care.

The history of GE to date, including a critical analysis where we’ve succeeded, where we’ve failed, why we might have failed, etc.)

II. Gender Education Theory

The ideal characteristics of Gender Education materials – Clear; Concise; Inclusive (avoiding personal identity-bias and ideological pitfalls); Audience-specific with keen focus on information needs ( basic/ personal/ technical/ professional/ political / media) Consideration of prior exposure and understanding of the transgender community (including bias/prejudice if necessary)

III.  The Gender Variance Model

It’s rationale : the need to provide a human and behavioral context for understanding transgendered people and gender behaviors; Gender conceptualized as the entire spectrum of all human behaviors; Gender variance presented in more commonly accepted forms (reproductive choice; marriage; occupations; grooming; clothing options for women; stereotypical gendered mannerisms, etc.) and yet to be accepted forms (same-sex sexual relationships; cross-gender identity and gender variant expression) across a parallel spectrum of political identities (straight; gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender and transsexual).

Goal: to connect audiences with their own individual genders and show how commonplace gender variance is.

IV. GEA’s Distributed Gender Education (DGE) Program GEA as a T & TA (Training and Technical Assistance) Provider, empowering local organizations and individuals to develop their own local GE programs.

Development of gender educational materials for specific target audiences;

Freely downloadable, high-quality GE materials from webpage;

Train the Trainer workshops at transgender and LGBT conferences;

Follow-up technical assistance via email, phone and personal contact;

Establishment of issue-specific LISTSERV networks composed of transgender and transgender-allied social service professionals who work in these areas; Feedback and continuous evaluation of materials and methods, with regard to content, clarity, relevancy and satisfaction.

V. Developing a local Gender Education Plan marketing your GE program; selecting your target audiences; making the pitch; leveraging mental health and health care providers as allies and co-presenters.

VI. Gender Education Presentations;

Tips on public speaking;

Dos and don’ts;

What to wear;

Handling the Q & A;

Role of personal anecdotes;

VII.  Dealing with specialized audiences

The media;

Law enforcement;

Fire and emergency services personnel;

Medical care providers;

Mental health providers;

Gay and lesbian organizations;

Academic institutions;

Governmental regulatory agencies;

Elected representatives;