In their own words: the power of inclusion (and the pain of exclusion)

Posted on July 05, 2022 | Atlantic Business Magazine | 0 Comments

 

Caen Squires

(they/them)

Communicator, educator and 2SLGBTQIA+ advocate

Before I came out and came to work as a transgender human, I never thought about bathrooms; I’d use them, but I never actually thought about them, other than to wonder where they were when I needed them. Before I came out, I’d never been verbally or physically assaulted walking into one either. Now, I think about bathrooms every day, deciding which ones are safest for me to use.

Through my navigation of so-called inclusive work environments, I’ve understood that sources of harm live in processes, on tax/employment forms, and in seemingly benign binary boxes on request forms labelled M or F; social, structural, and systemic biases and barriers that exist everywhere for equity-deserving people. My workdays were rife with anxiety. I consistently found myself making decisions and assessing the risks of openly being myself against potential gains to ensure I got through my days mostly unscathed. Equity and inclusion are more than declarations and when aspirational words are not met with tangible and substantial action, people like me get hurt.

While I’ve found that places aren’t safe or inclusive, I’ve also found that people can be, and I want that thought to stick. I was lucky in my last job to find myself working with a team of individuals who collectively prioritized my safety and wellbeing over the status quo; colleagues who chose to see and share my struggles and actively worked to reduce them. That’s the source of inclusion: people in workplaces who invite people to be themselves rather than who they are told to be.

 

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