Bill of Rights
Gender Identity Bill of Rights for the Veterinary Profession
We, PrideVMC and the undersigned, present this Gender Identity Bill of Rights as a minimum foundation to identify and eliminate discriminatory practices against transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals in the veterinary profession including educational and employment environments; and strive to implement the protection of LGTBQ+ civil rights as upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States of America (Bostock v. Clayton County, 2020)* in alignment with the 1964 Civil Rights Act and international standards on human rights. We adopt this statement of how the veterinary profession should conduct itself in regards to gender diversity.
The previously mentioned identities are terms used to encapsulate a spectrum of identities that are flexible with ever-changing language to be more inclusive, and are valid in the presence or absence of medical and/or surgical gender affirmation process.
No statement can anticipate every circumstance; therefore, as a guiding principle all of the rights below exist within a broader context of treating every human being with decency and respect.
*This is the pertinent ruling at the time of writing, and can be modified for other regions/countries.
At the time of writing, this document was created with the hope of being as inclusive as possible. However the transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming community is not monolithic, and there is a high likelihood that there are needs that are not addressed within this document.
The authors intend the following to be moral and ethical guidance for the profession and additional insight may be added over time.
Statement on INTERSECTIONALITY:
Discrimination due to race, ethnicity, indigeneity, sex, sexual orientation, disability, neurodiversity, socioeconomic status, creed, religion and other marginalized identities all impact individuals in the transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming community as well. These lenses of identity impact and inform an individual’s experience in gender expression, identity, and affirmation. These additional community needs and impacts may not be addressed in this document, and are essential considerations to an individual’s unique needs for support and empowerment in the veterinary profession.
With these considerations in mind, the authors, reviewers and signers of this document agree that the following rights should be implemented within the profession:
Right to IDENTITY
Gender identity is personal and individual. No one other than the individual should dictate the terms of gender identity, expression, or processes involved in gender affirmation. Additionally, there should be equal opportunities in education and employment within the profession regardless of gender identity.
Right to NAMES
Addressing an individual by their name demonstrates respect and acknowledges you trust that they know themselves better than you do. Intentional ‘dead naming,’ whether as a continued deliberate campaign or wantonly neglectful use of a person’s birth or current legal name rather than chosen name, is an act of violence* against transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals and should not be tolerated. Accidental dead-naming can perpetuate harm against individuals.
*The WHO World Report on Violence and Health formally defines violence in part as the intentional use of power that results in psychological harm. Informally the typology of violence can include psychological attack in the workplace and other institutions.
Right to PRONOUNS
Pronouns can be fluid and subject to continual change by the individual. Correct use of pronouns is a right; therefore the introduction of pronouns in conversation, pronouns on name badges, and pronoun tags on emails that can be readily altered should be standard practice to create inclusive spaces in the veterinary profession.
Right to PRIVACY
Transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals have a right to privacy and should not be mandated to expose private medical information or any details regarding their lives, bodies, gender expression, and/or identity. Employers and colleagues should not discuss any medical information or details regarding these individuals with other employees, clients, etc.
Freedom of GENDER EXPRESSION
Gender expression is an individual freedom that may not match perceived societal gender norms. Thus, gender expression is not mandated by gender identity or transition. Any act within the veterinary profession, by an administrator, within an institution or organization, or by an employer or coworkers that restricts this right should be viewed as unacceptable.
Freedom from GENDER AFFIRMATION TIMELINES
The veterinary profession should accept and support the right of transgender, non binary, and gender non-conforming individuals to pursue or not pursue gender affirming medical and/or surgical treatment on their own timeline without interference from an employer, administrator, company, section head, or individual other than the transgender, non-binary, and/or gender non-conforming individual. Transition can look different for everyone, and the outward perception of such is not a starting or stopping point for resources and access to safe spaces.
Right to ADVOCACY
When needed at an institution/workplace, there should be documented efforts to find support through a third party (e. g. insurance gender affirmation services, local pride center services, national/international gender diverse organization resources, independent contractor, etc.) or when logistically feasible a trained diversity and inclusion advocate. These advocates should be knowledgeable about issues and challenges that transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming employees may encounter. Human resources should be aware of transgender health insurance, care access, and civil rights issues should they be called upon to discuss them.
Right to SAFETY
Transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals should be able to have personal safety within work, teaching and learning environments. Transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals should be able to use restrooms and changing rooms that correspond to their identity at their chosen pace. Additionally, gender neutral restrooms should be available when logistically feasible for those who wish to use them. Signage should be altered to be non-discriminatory on gender neutral restrooms (e.g. triangle sign).
Freedom from EXPLANATION
The work involved in transgender diversity, equity, and inclusion education (including implicit bias and microaggressions) and training of staff should be the responsibility of the veterinary profession, employers, and institutions rather than the individual. Training should be informed by transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming voices and expertise.
Protection from COWORKER DISCRIMINATION/HARASSMENT
It should be the responsibility of the veterinary profession and the employer/institution to commit to identify and reduce learning space/workplace/workspace harassment and discrimination of any type.
Protection from CLIENT DISCRIMINATION/HARASSMENT
It should be the responsibility of the veterinary profession and the employer/institution, when feasible and allowable, to shield the transgender, non-binary, or gender non-conforming individual from prejudice and harassment by clients in a similar manner to the way in which other marginalized individuals are protected.
Right to CORRECT INFORMATION
It should be the responsibility of the veterinary profession and the employer/institution to alter signage, marketing, websites, contacts, and all other relevant documents and materials with expediency to reflect an individual’s identity at the point at which the individual dictates it. Any announcement concerning names, pronouns, or any other personal details should be informed and led by the individual’s preferences.
Authors – PrideVMC DEI WG Members:
Erika Lin-Hendel, VMD, PhD
Ewan Wolff, PhD, DVM, DACVIM
Jenna Ward, DVM
Anonymous non-binary veterinarian
Buffy Jamison, MA Ed
Kate Toyer, BVSc, MANZCVS (Surgery)
Kristin Olsen, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM)
Lynn Maki, MA Ed, Associate Dean
Pride VMC, DEI Working Group
Rachel E. Dufour
Ryanne Heiny, CVT
Anthony Michael Kreis, JD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Law
Emily Torstveit-Ngara, JD, LL. M., Assistant Clinical Professor of Law
Stay tuned for more information including an accompanying implementation guide with resources.
Please email GenderIdentity@PrideVMC.org for questions and comments related to the Gender Identity Bill of Rights.
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