Click here to visit the Trans@MIT web page
(created March of 2005)

Trans Issues Group forms at MIT
In November of 2004, a group of staff, faculty, and students (trans people and allies) formed the Trans Issues Group to identify and explore the areas of MIT policy and community life where trans concerns may be better addressed, and advocate for improvements as needed in those areas.

If you are interested in being a part of the Trans Issues group, or would like to know more about what we are doing, please email us. Your confidentiality will be protected.

Find out more...

Gender Identity & MIT
      History, Policies, & Publications
Related MIT Resources
      Contact People, Support, & Information
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
      Gender Identity Primer, Bathrooms, When this affects you
Building a trans community at MIT
      Meet and interact with other trans folks from around campus.
Information & Resources Beyond MIT
      Organizations, Publications, & Useful Links
Related Efforts & Information
      News items, Efforts at other schools, & more.

Read the flyer sent to MIT faculty &
staff
about the addition of
"gender identity" to MIT's
Nondiscrimination policy.


Gender Identity & MIT ...back to top
Related MIT Resources ...back to top
    Contact People
  • Trans Issues Group
    http://web.mit.edu/trans
    trans-info@mit.edu
    The Trans Issues Group is a group of MIT staff, faculty, and students (trans people and allies) who are working to explore and assess the areas of MIT policy and community life where trans concerns may be better addressed. The Group also advocates for improvements as needed in those areas.
    Resources for Support
  • lbgt@mit: x3-6777
  • Ombuds Office: x3-5921
  • MIT Medical Center, Mental Health Department: x3-2916
  • (for students) Counseling & Support Services: x3-4861
    Information & Resolution
  • lbgt@mit: x3-6777
  • Ombuds Office: x3-5921
  • (for employees)   Human Resources: x3-4251
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) ...back to top
If you have additional questions, please email lbgt@mit.edu.

  1. What is meant by "gender identity"?
  2. How or when does this affect me?
  3. What does this mean about who uses which bathrooms?
  4. Why did MIT make this change?
  5. Where can I learn more?
What is meant by "gender identity"?         . . . back to FAQ . . . | . . . back to top . . .
We'll answer this in two parts: First, some useful terms, then their integration.
USEFUL TERMS TO UNDERSTAND
Sex
The common, but imperfect, sorting of people as male or female, usually based on anatomy and/or chromosomes.
Conforming examples: males, females
Non-conforming examples: intersexed people, people with varying chromosomal makeup (XX-males, XY-females, XXY-people), "hermaphrodites"
Gender
The collection of traits, behaviors, and characteristics that are culturally associated with maleness or femaleness. Gender traits considered masculine or feminine can differ from culture to culure or in different historical periods.
Conforming examples: sports as masculine, nurturing as feminine, blue as a boyís color, pink as a girlís color
Non-conforming examples: womenís rap music, menís high fashion
Gender Identity
A personís internal self-awareness of being either male or female, masculine or feminine, or something in-between.
Gender Expression
The external behaviors and characteristics(i.e. dress, mannerisms, social interactions, speech patterns, etc.) that a person displays in order to indicate their gender identity.
INTEGRATING THE TERMS

Everyone has a gender identity AND a gender expression.

Most people experience their gender identity as conforming to their physical sex. That is, most people who are born with female bodies also have a female gender identity (i.e. an internal sense that "I am a woman"), and most people who are born with male bodies have a male gender identity (i.e. an internal sense that "I am a man").

Some individuals experience their gender identity as not conforming to their physical sex (i.e. a person who is born female but does not have the internal sense that they are a woman, or a person who is born male who does not have the internal sense that they are a man). These individuals are sometimes referred to as "transgender" people. Such peopleís gender expression may vary from traditional expectations of sex and gender in order to effectively indicate their gender identity. Individuals with nontraditional gender identities may:

  • change their use of pronouns (i.e. from "she" to "he" or vice-versa)
  • change their physical appearance and/or manner of dress
  • legally change their name and/or sex designation
  • engage in a medical sex reassignment process
All people can have varying gender expressions that may or may not conform to societal expectations of gender or sex. A non-conforming gender expression can be as simple as behaving in ways that run counter to traditional beliefs about gender. It can include acting, speaking, or dressing in ways that donít fit the conventional practices of gender in the prevailing culture, or that donít fit the accepted manners of presenting gender in certain work or social situations.
How or when does this affect me?         . . . back to FAQ . . . | . . . back to top . . .
As a supervisor or advisor...
You have developed a good relationship with someone you advise or supervise. They confide in you that they are contemplating or have already undergone sex-reassignment, and ask how this may affect their career. You worry how it might affect the social dynamics of your lab or department. What do you do?
As an someone hoping for career advancement...
Your lab or department has men and women among the senior faculty, and sex discrimination does not appear to be an issue. However, all the senior men and women alike appear to display a machismo you do not wish to emulate. You fear failing to conform will negatively affect your success in the lab or department. What can you do?
As someone who isnít comfortable with all this...
Because of this change in policy, someone you work with on a regular basis is now expressing a non-traditional gender identity. You find yourself uncomfortable interacting with this person. What can you do?
What does this mean about who uses which bathrooms?         . . . back to FAQ . . . | . . . back to top . . .
Actually, nothing really changes as far as bathroom usage. This addition to the nondiscrimination policy was not to "fix" anything that was "broken." MIT has a strong track-record in supporting its community members - conforming gender identities and non-conforming gender identities alike. If your gender identity is conforming and has not changed, there is no reason for your bathroom choice to change. If your gender identity does not conform to your physical sex, then MIT accepts its responsibility to work with you and your co-workers to resolve any bathroom usage issues in a manner respectful to all parties involved.
Why did MIT make this change?         . . . back to FAQ . . . | . . . back to top . . .
MIT has added this language to reaffirm its enduring commitment to maintaining an environment of respect for all members of the MIT community. It is against MITís policy to discriminate against anyone on the basis of their gender identity.
Where can I learn more?         . . . back e basis of their gender identity.
Where can I learn more?         . . . back to FAQ . . . | . . . back to top . . .
See the sections:
Building a trans community at MIT ...back to top
I resolved to write this piece with the hope that I can galvanize faculty who are transgender (you are out there, I am sure) to enter into a kind of mutually supportive community, even if "outness" is not a possibility.

- Professor Emeritus, John Southard

A group of MIT community members who identify as transgender are forming a group. If you are interested in participating, please contact John Southard, Professor Emeritus, at 508-339-0615 or southardjb@aol.com.
Information & Resources Beyond MIT ...back to top
Related Efforts & Information ...back to top

Prepared by Brian Rubineau, with assistance from Ricky Gresh, Travis Wright, Emily Meghan Morrow Howe, John Southard, and Phillip Lima.