Thriving in Inclusive Community

This is my second year living at Grebel. I am studying Recreational Therapy and I am also transgender.

At Grebel, we recognize that gender inclusivity is an important element of community members’ mental wellbeing. Gender inclusivity means that we recognize that gender is a spectrum rather than a binary of male and female. Simply, we recognize that some people are transgender or non-binary. Therefore, our facility and services strive to be mindful of all gender identities and expressions. For example, Grebel’s resident application form poses ‘gender’ as an open-ended question in which applicants write in their identity. As gender is a part of one’s identity, being affirmed and accepted has positive effects on one’s mental wellbeing.

Since first year, I have lived with a roommate in the optional genderneutral floor of the residence (which includes a gender-neutral washrom). For me, living in a mixed-gender hallway has been really comforting. I can come back from a day of school and know I’m in a safe space to be authentically myself. This reassurance has boosted my self-confidence overall. Further, I believe that mixed-gender spaces are a healthy way for people to co-exist.

I am also a member of various clubs at Grebel, within which all of my peers are understanding and respectful of my pronouns, identity, and expression—and they understand that one’s gender is just a piece of who they are.

Further, beyond day-to-day etiquette, the Grebel staff are a part of my support system: from clarifying pronouns, to offering empathy during potentially tenuous holiday times, to initiating formal administrative meetings with QuAQ (our Gender and Sexuality Alliance), all in order to continue our community’s inclusion evolution.

Since joining this affirming community, my cognitive distress (like worrying about stigma) has been alleviated. I’ve been able to thrive! Here, I am able to create meaningful relationships, perform well academically, be physically well, and leisurely satisfied—simply, to live mentally well.