GREENFIELD — An Indiana nonprofit conducted an informational meeting Tuesday discussing the importance of diversity and inclusion in schools, workplaces and communities.
Transgender Resource, Education and Enrichment Services, a South Bend-based nonprofit organization, devotes its time to providing transgender awareness training and resource building in underserved small towns and rural communities.
Meghan Buell, president and founder of the organization, aims to help small communities like Greenfield become more familiar with issues facing transgender people so that when a transgender person comes out at a school or workplace, officials will know how to react appropriately, she said.
One of the most important steps to creating a more inclusive culture is talking about issues that might make people uncomfortable to reduce the stigma behind words like transgender, Buell said.
It’s important for people to respect each other’s differences and how they change peoples’ points of view, she said.
“The idea of agreeing to disagree seems to have gone out of society,” she said. “But each of us wants to be respected and understood.”
Nikki Garner of McCordsville, a master’s student in sociology studying gender, diversity and inclusion, discovered TREES and contacted Buell, saying she should host an event in Hancock County.
Buell defined terms that can be confusing for people not familiar with issues facing transgender people throughout the hour-long informational session. She also discussed how working to become more inclusive helps businesses and communities.
For example, she said it is empowering for someone who is transgender to be able to self-identify on forms — instead of only providing male or female options, businesses could add a “transgender” box, she said.
Though the event at the Hancock County Public Library was sparsely attended, Buell said she considered it a success because a few people showed up and it was a positive, engaging event.
Brenda Robertson of Greenfield was inspired by Buell’s suggestions, saying she is now interested in starting a pride event in Greenfield.
“I’m so glad I came,” she said.
Transgender Resource, Education and Enrichment Services works to perform transgender awareness training and resource building in small towns and rural areas. Some terms discussed in a recent educational session in Greenfield were:
Diversity: All the personal attributes that make us all unique
Inclusion: A practice that enables the full participation and engagement of residents in support of the community by eliminating implicit and explicit barriers
- Sexual orientation: who you love
- Gender identity: who you are
- Transgender: when a person’s gender identity and their physical being differ
- Cisgender: a person whose gender identity and physical being are in sync