Today I gave a presentation on transgender needs in academic library spaces to a full house of interested UNC library staff members and School of Information and Library Science (SILS) students. It was a continuation of the ideas expressed in my poster (presented at the SILS Project Fair - see post from 4/10/15 for more information) and the underlying paper I wrote for my Seminar in Academic Libraries course.
In this presentation, using statistics, data from the literature, and screenshots to back up my claims, I covered why it is important to consider one's library's transgender population when writing policies, classifying/cataloging materials, and conducting daily library business. I also tackled the issues of cisnormativity* and the lack of gender non-specific restrooms, materials with transgender topics, and trained library staff in academic library spaces around the country. Finally, I spelled out what libraries have done so far for their trans patrons and provided recommendations for what else could be done at the local level to better serve one's transgender users.
The presentation was extremely well-received, both in person and remotely; my slides were emailed to library staff members, and the praise I received from staff who were unable to attend but enjoyed reading through my slides was unrivaled. I believe today, many eyes were opened to an issue which was previously ignored or deemed irrelevant on a local level, and I hope I have helped make life a little easier for the next generation of UNC students by influencing policy and practice.
*Cisnormativity = Pervasive and culturally-enforced assumption that all people are (and are supposed to be) cisgender, or identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. People who do not meet these socially-constructed expectations of gender are often pathologized or marginalized (Beemyn & Rankin, 2011).
Beemyn, G., & Rankin, S. (2011). The lives of transgender people. New York: Columbia University Press.