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Susan Springer: “Trans People Need to Feel Safe”

This month marks Trans Awareness Month, with Trans Day of Remembrance falling on the 20th of November. Trans allies have never been more important, with a sea of misinformation still out there we all play a role in creating a world where every single trans person can live freely without fear. myGwork met with Susan Springer, Medical Director at MSD, who shared with us her son Tobi's journey and why trans allyship is so important to her.

Hi Susan - thanks for chatting to us! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Susan Springer, Medical Director in SEE at MSD – very engaged in this topic as one of my children, Tobi – now 25 years old, is transgender.

Why is it important that we put in effort to ensure we get someone’s pronouns correct? What can we do to make sure we get this correct?

Ignoring transgender is dangerous – vocal allyship is important – trans people need to feel safe.

Words of my son – “Often outside of the art community, don’t feel safe. Labeled as a woman – mids-gendered makes him feel very uncomfortable, and openly correcting people does not always feel safe. Good practice is to ask how people want to be addressed to bring clarity.

Pronouns are important – learn and practice as needed. If you mess up – correct yourself. It is decency and courtesy to get the pronoun correct – if you accidentally slip up – no problem, but correct yourself.  People, it seems, are sometimes  more bothered about misgendering a pet or a baby than misgendering a grown-up person.

The idea is to treat transgender people exactly as you would treat CIS people.

Tobi would not disclose himself as trans during an interview – there is a level of certainty needed before coming out to strangers. A company that actively demonstrates and supports transgender would give huge support to feeling safe to come out and be yourself. That also goes for me as a parent of a transgender child to feel safe and free to discuss in conversation in the workplace.

Gender Neutral toilets would be very helpful in the workplace – avoiding an existential crisis during bio breaks for transgender people!! Many public spaces, airplanes, and homes already have gender-neutral toilets -  so why not all office spaces?

Are there visible trans role models at your organization? Do you have any trans role models outside of the workplace?

There are no current visible role models, as far as I am aware. Tobi – my son, is my role model.

How do you see the visibility of the T in LGBTQ+ now compared to recent years?

Discussing with Tobi, the T is certainly visible. Tobi studies animation, and according to him, the T has better visibility in the art world – I tend to agree.

What do you recommend we should do to ensure the trans community is not left behind when pushing for LGBTQ+ equality?

Ask and align with trans people – there is still a lot of phobia and misunderstanding of transgender.

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