Transgender Inclusion in Virtual Training

With intentional and respectful tending, we can make all learners feel welcome and create a safe environment focused on genuine connection and the content at hand.

The world is changing in ways that impact how we conduct training. Gender identity, expression, and expectations are evolving as more people identify with a gender that differs from their sex assigned at birth or presentation. A recent Supreme Court of the United States ruling ( provides federal workplace protections to LGBTQ+ individuals, which will allow more people to explore their gender and come out in the workplace.

This offers trainers an opportunity. With intentional and respectful tending, we can make all learners feel welcome—reducing disorientation for those new to TGX+ (transgender and gender expansive) realities and decreasing alienation for those who are gender diverse—and create a safe environment focused on connection and the content at hand. (NOTE: The term, “TGX+,” was coined by Rex Wilde, an expert in transgender workplace inclusion ( capture the diverse and growing gender identities and expressions.) Here are some tips to keep in mind:


1. Pay attention to your mindset.

  • Avoid making assumptions about what your learners know or think about TGX+ realities.
  • Cultivate openness and respect and role-model this behavior for others.

2. Design with TGX+ in mind.

As you develop training materials, examples, and activities, remove gender assumptions. Simple examples include:

  • Design an example not about marriage between a man and a woman but about relationships between people or spouses.
  • Craft a case study with gender-neutral names and they/them pronouns. When referencing two people, you may use different pronouns for each person. For example: he/him for person 1 and they/them for person 2 if applicable.

3. Set the stage. In pre-training correspondence:

  • Use gender-neutral language. “Ladies and Gentlemen” and “Hey, Guys!” (which may sound ridiculous, but I am from California, where we’ve all been referred to as “guys” and “dudes” for decades!) may become “Hello, all… Welcome, trainees… Good afternoon, friends.”
  • Display your pronouns in your e-mail signature, i.e., Rex Wilde (they/them).


1. Display your pronouns. This is an easy way to normalize pronoun sharing and show your support.

  • In Zoom: To share your pronouns only during the current meeting, click “Participants” at the bottom of the screen, hover over your name, click “more,” add your pronouns directly after your name, then save. They will appear during the meeting, then disappear. To embed your pronouns in every meeting, sign in, click “Profile” at the left, click “Edit,” add your pronouns in the box below your name, then answer the question, “How would you like to share your pronouns?” (Never. Always. Ask me before each meeting.)
  • On Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and other platforms: Change your display name in your user settings and include your pronouns directly after your last name. They will appear automatically.

Avoid making assumptions about what your learners know or think about transgender and gender expansive (TGX+) realities. Cultivate openness and respect and role-model this behavior for others.

2. Use gender-neutral language.

  • Replace gendered language such as “guys,” “gals,” “ma’am,” or “sir” with “you; you all; everyone; people; individuals; folks; friends; trainees; colleagues; gang; fellow humans; y’all; y’all all (I now live in the south, and my aunt once wrote: “I hope y’all all are well.”), etc.
  • For formal occasions, Wilde suggests “Ladies and Gentlemen” become “Honored Guests,” “Welcome, everyone,” or even “Guests across the gender spectrum.”

3. Allow for changes in gender expression.

“Gender identity” is one’s internal sense of self— man, woman, non-binary (identifying not as a man or a woman). “Gender expression/presentation” is one’s outward expression of self. Both can change or flux, so:

  • Expect changes. You may see fluid gender presentations, which flux over time or day to day.
  • If someone’s appearance changes, be respectful. Don’t act surprised. You may privately confirm their pronouns, which also may shift (or ask everyone to display their pronouns). Don’t ignore them for fear of making a mistake. This can result in alienation. Acknowledge and correct mistakes as they occur. Then carry on, respectfully including everyone.


Find people to help you improve. Wilde gives this example: Charley continuously misgenders Nova in online meetings. Charley does not realize this, and Nova is too overwhelmed by the experience to speak up. In this situation, it would be helpful for one of Charley’s colleagues to reach out to talk about it. This helps by taking the responsibility of education off of Nova and allows Charley a space to learn without the potential of causing additional harm.

The key is to create a learning environment that welcomes all learners and effectively teaches the content.