[image: ACPA/NASPA Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Educators, Visual Representation of the Intersection of the 10 Competency Areas. Social Justice and Inclusion is a Professional Competency.]
Dear ACPA Community,
This is the final post in a 4-part blog series discussing the progress ACPA has made regarding equity and inclusion since our 2015 Convention in Tampa, FL, USA.
Recently Dr. Genny Beemyn report some of the results of the first national study regarding nonbinary trans college students. Her results are clear that we have work to do on our college campuses to support trans students. In the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Genny identifies a number of strategies that institutions can utilize to improve the climate for this student population. Genny’s study informs our work in the U.S., but there are challenges outside of the U.S. that will impact the ACPA16 Convention in Montréal next March.
TRANS* SOCIAL & POLITICAL CLIMATE
We want to update you regarding the social and political climate for trans* identified persons in Montreal. The situation continues to improve legislatively in Quebec, in fact, now exceeding many provisions in the United States. Paola Loriggio from the The Canadian Press provides the following report which was published on September 16, 2015:
Quebec is making it easier for transgender people to legally change their sex on official documents.
The provincial government two years ago dropped its requirement that transgender people undergo reassignment surgery before changing the sex on their birth certificates. But it still required that people seeking the change have lived full time as their chosen sex for at least two years and obtain a letter from a medical professional confirming that they are transgender as well as an affidavit.
A policy change published Wednesday says people seeking the change must now swear the chosen sex reflects their identity, that they intend to continue living as that sex and that they do so voluntarily. They must only obtain a letter from a medical professional if they have already changed the sex on their documents in the past.
The new policy takes effect on Oct. 1.
Several provinces have reconsidered their rules about changing sex on birth certificates in recent years. In 2012, Ontario's human rights tribunal declared it discriminatory to require an actual sex-change operation for a transgender woman who wanted to switch to female from male on her birth certificate.
The province quickly revised its legislation to allow a change with a note from a doctor or psychologist testifying to a person's "gender identity." Though it initially set an age limit of 18 and over, current rules allow those 16 and over to make the change. Alberta stopped requiring sex-change surgery earlier this year. Those seeking to change the sex on their documents must now submit an affidavit and a letter from a physician or psychologist. A similar process was adopted in Manitoba in February. British Columbia appears to have taken the biggest step so far. Last year, a bill passed first reading that would allow people — even children — to change the sex on their birth certificates without surgery. Children would need parental consent.
As reported earlier, there have been no documented barriers to border crossing for trans* identified persons. Gender Mosaic members indicate that they have freely crossed into the United States and back without problem. They recommend that each person tell the truth of how they identify and present their passport with the simple explanation that the person identifies as trans*.
There has been no change in Quebec’s law regarding undocumented persons entering the country. As is the case in the United States, persons who wish to enter Quebec must produce passports from the nations of which the persons are citizens. We are continuing to highlight the concerns of underrepresented persons and groups in our HEd talk series at convention.
OUR CONTINUING CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES TO IMPROVE
Within our membership and leadership, we have varying levels of understanding and interpretation of the basic definitions of diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice education, activism and advocacy. Some of our members and leaders are passionate about affirming and asserting these values in student affairs and higher education and some of our members do not always feel empowered or competent to do so on our campuses or in our Association. Or, they feel rebuffed or excluded. Some believe that they are not “chosen” for positions on campuses or in ACPA because they are too “out there” for the “expected demeanor of student affairs professionals in leadership in ACPA.” Some feel our nominations process closes doors rather than opening them.
Some are deeply frustrated with what they perceive as inaction by ACPA, Student Affairs and higher education campus leaders on issues of justice, particularly in areas of white supremacy, whiteness, power & privilege, Anti-Blackness and racism as well as trans*, gender non-conforming, gender queer, Asian-Pacific Islander (API) and native/indigenous people.
What to do? What to say?
We will not always agree on the best tactics or even the language that should describe what we want to do or who we are. These all change over time. And, we will be immune to change unless we agree on what we need to do as first actions and intentionally take those actions. One key finding is that ACPA needs to consider adoption of a formal framework for assessment with benchmarks that correspond to our stated philosophy about change agency, its role as an Association, core values, mission and vision. I have recommended the Global Diversity & Inclusion Benchmarks (GDIB) as a starting point and we have begun that process.
Now that the Leadership Pathways report and recommendations have been accepted by the ACPA Governing Board, we hope that we can infuse them into our work as a collective community.
We have an opportunity to offer thought leadership to higher education around the world about inclusion and social justice and model inclusion in leadership roles in unprecedented ways.
We can amplify the voices of those who feel they have no voice as well as those who understand how to translate our best research into practice.
We can mobilize members of our community to make meaningful change in campus climates where white supremacy and hegemony prevail.
We have an extraordinary opportunity to change traditional partnerships/alliances in higher education from those engrained in white power and privilege to those that affirm and lift up leadership by the “rest of us.” Thank you for this opportunity to reflect on our current situation and activities with you.
With deep respect,