The freedom to be who we are is something many take for granted, but as the hate-motivated attack on our campus last year reminded us, that freedom is increasingly being tested.

As I said from the steps of the Dana Porter Library during our campus gathering shortly after the attack, it is unimaginable that such hate exists in some people’s hearts. Looking out at the large crowd that joined us that day, I was heartened to know that as a community, we are united against all forms of violence, hatred and discrimination.

This year’s International Trans Day of Visibility is more important than ever as our community continues to heal. As an institution, we continue to take steps towards meeting our commitments of being an inclusive, safe and welcoming environment for all members of our community. We can’t take for granted our personal and collective responsibilities to meet these commitments.

International Trans Day of Visibility is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate Two-Spirit, Trans, Non-Binary, and Gender Non-Conforming peoples, who are integral and valued members of our campus community. Our trans students, faculty and staff contribute so much to our institution.

Every day, not just one day a year, we seek to add visibility to their voices, experiences and scholarship. Every member of our community should feel a sense of belonging at Waterloo and be free to be who they are.

The University of Waterloo has partnered with the organization Pride at Work to support us with a range of programming activities as well as posting Waterloo jobs on its job board. Pride at Work Canada empowers Canadian employers to build workplaces that celebrate all employees regardless of gender expression, gender identity and sexual identity.

The Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-racism has recently created a new Gender and Sexual Equity Road Map to help guide individuals on their learning journeys on the topic of gender and sexuality equity. This road map is helping individuals on our campus change their practices to build more inclusive experiences, in particular for 2SLGBTQIA+ students.

Additionally, the institution has launched a fund for the Gender and Social Justice program to support faculty and enrolled students who are working, studying, and researching in solidarity to build inclusive, just and sustainable communities both locally and globally.

On April 3, all Trans University of Waterloo students, faculty, and staff are invited to join the Trans Campus Community Corner event to connect, build community and receive a care package. On June 26, as part of Pride Month, the University is organizing an event to celebrate our queer and trans communities. You can learn more about Waterloo’s work in creating an inclusive campus by visiting the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-racism website.

Creating societal and institutional change is not easy. It can lead to anxiety and stress, so Waterloo continues to advocate for greater equity and inclusion for marginalized communities and ensures individuals and teams on our campuses are aware of the supports available to them through Campus Well (for students) or our Employee and Family Assistance Program.