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Gender Identity: Essential Skills for Educators and Health Care Professionals

Text "Gender Identity" over gender symbols

Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals face many challenges – in our legal system, in health care, in our schools, and in our communities. Educators and health care professionals can be pivotal in helping them navigate these challenges and begin addressing their root causes. Join PLU, The Rainbow Center, and educators, healthcare professionals, and activists from across the Puget Sound to learn how you can be a catalyst for change and create safer and more welcoming environments for individuals of all gender identities and expressions.

This one-day workshop has two parts: In the morning, The Rainbow Center (Tacoma, WA) will introduce participants to gender identity and expression, the challenges faced by transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, and to the LGBTQ community more generally. Participants will learn the importance and impact of identifying and using correct pronouns, as well practice sharing their own pronouns. In the afternoon, educators and healthcare professionals will break out into smaller groups to explore industry-specific situations and strategies for improving their schools and clinics.

Participants will

  • Learn appropriate language to refer to members of the LGBTQ community
  • Explore barriers to accessing health care for members of the LGBTQ community
  • Learn the importance and impact of using correct pronouns
  • Identify specific strategies for making education and health care spaces safer and more welcoming for patients of all gender identities and expressions

General Sessions (October 2019)

Health Care Sessions (October 2019)

  • “Queerstory: Health Care Activism and Progress” by Genya Shimkin, MPH (The Q Card Project)
  • “Gender Inclusive and Trauma-Informed Pelvic Exams” by Olivia Arakawa, MSN, CNM, ARNP, RN

Educator Sessions (October 2019)

  • “Supporting Trans and Gender-Expansive Students at Seattle Public Schools” by Brennon Ham (Seattle Public Schools)
  • “Using a Gender Map as Part of Curriculum and Counseling” by Shannon Solie, MA, MHC

October 2018 Afternoon Sessions (Prior Offering)

October 15, 2019

Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA


  • Regular: $175
  • Groups of 3 or more participants: $157.50 (call 253-535-7722 for discount code)
  • PLU students & alumni: $140 (call 253-535-7722 for discount code)
  • Previous attendees: $95 (afternoon only, call for discount code)

Delivery Method: 


  • 6.5 OSPI Clock Hours
  • 6 Non-ANCC Contact Hours
    • LICSWs and MFTs may be able to apply these hours towards DOH continuing education requirements

Health Care Session Descriptions

It’s easy to get excited and make plans during a workshop or seminar, but what happens when you return to your practice? In this session, Genya Shimkin (MPH) of the Q Card Project will guide participants through communicating with and creating a welcoming and supportive environment for LGBTQ patients. Through case studies and scenarios, participants will practice acting as advocates and allies, as well as ways to educate others about how to create safe and welcoming spaces. Participants will also learn about The Q Card as one tool to improve patient-provider communication with LGBTQ youth. As a result of this session, participants will be able to

  • Create a welcoming and supportive environment for LGBTQ patients
  • Act as advocates and allies for LGBTQ patients
  • Show youth how to use The Q Card to improve patient-provider communication
  • Educate others about how to create safe and welcoming spaces for LGBTQ people

Transgender youth are placed in foster care at much higher rates than the general population, and experience homelessness and a variety of other challenges in conjunction with significant health disparities. This presentation discusses the unique aspects of health care provision for transgender foster youth who may experience changes in housing placements, higher rates of risky behaviors, and inconsistencies in health care provider relationships among countless other barriers to equitable health outcomes. As a result of this session, participants will be able to

  • Understand dynamics which disrupt continuous health care for transgender youth
  • Identify foster care placement-specific challenges related to health care for transgender youth
  • Learn about positive intersections between child welfare and health care for transgender youth
  • Identify 3 community-based resources to help you serve transgender youth in foster care in the Puget Sound area

In this session, participants will receive an overview of the options and obstacles transgender patients face in growing their families. The focus will be on trans men who become or wish to become pregnant, but the experiences of trans women will also be addressed. As a result of this session, participants will be able to

  • Understand that men can get pregnant, even those on exogenous testosterone who have not bled in a significant period of time
  • Ask what their patients feel comfortable calling their cycle and body parts
  • Identify reproductive options for patients (and families) including surrogacy, gamete storage, and partner-parent
  • Know what is inside your scope of practice in caring for a pregnant man and who to coordinate with
  • Understand that families come in different forms and with different dynamics that impact issues regarding custody of the new child
  • Assess staff readiness (on a basic level) for accepting the care of a pregnant man and assign or prepare staff accordingly

Education Session Descriptions

A panel of Puget Sound educators, administrators, and students will discuss the experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming students (in K-12 and beyond), what policies and curricula are being implemented to improved those experiences, which of those policies are the most effective, and handling controversy and the communities around our campuses. Panelists to be announced.

According to GLSEN research, compared to other students in the LGBTQ community, transgender and genderqueer students face more hostile school climates. So, too, do gender non-conforming (GNC) students, whose gender expression does not align to traditional gender norms. In their training, statistics on national data for LGBTQ student experiences will be shared, with specific attention to the experiences of trans and gender expansive students. Participants will explore the constraints of the gender binary and provide an intersectional approach to addressing genderism. Educators will leave with a better understanding of LGBTQ and gender expansive student experiences, along with advocacy tools and school such as model policies and Know Your Rights guides, and a framework for creating supportive learning environments for trans and GNC students.

Talcott Broadhead (transgender Social Worker, Professor, and author of “Meet Polkadot,” a book about a non-binary transgender child) will provide session participants with both a framework and skills to make their learning environment more accessible and validating to all gender identities.

Session concepts addressed will include:

  • the differences between Equality and Equity and what that looks like in practice to promote social justice in the classroom, on the playground,….
  • an investigation of gender socialization and racialized gender norms
  • strategies for unlearning restrictive concepts about gender
  • tools to teach through conflicts and misunderstandings about gender
  • advocacy skills with which to support trans youth and trans families in school systems

You will come away from this session with valuable tools with which to support all of the children and families in our learning communities as well as an expanded understanding of what it means to be trans-affirmative in daily practice.