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Trans Accessible Libraries Initiative

This guide provides practical information and library resources for UNTs transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming, gender variant, and gender diverse students.

Welcome!

Thank you for using the Trans Accessible Libraries Initiative Library Guide. I am Julie Leuzinger (pronouns: she/her/hers), Women's and Gender Studies Librarian. 

Trans Accessible Libraries Initiative

The aim of this guide is to remove some of the barriers trans individuals face accessing information and to provide more equitable access to our services and collections. This guide should:

  • Highlight specific Trans Accessible Library Services that may be of concern to transgender individuals that focus on student privacy, such as self service checkout, restroom locations, and how to get research help.
  • Provide tools for students to Find Reliable Information so they can do their own research outside of those provided in this guide.
  • Feature current Resources by Topic the library holds in electronic format to support the needs of our transgender student population.*
  • Feature Resources by Format the library holds in electronic format to support the needs of our transgender student population including film, comics/graphic novels, government information, primary sources, and data/statistics.*
  • Share Book Displays that highlight resources about transgender individuals or by transgender authors by theme.
  • Provide information for Librarians to recreate this initiative at their own library for trans individuals or other marginalized populations. 

NOTE: While I have tried to use inclusive language in this guide, if you notice anything that could be improved, please don't hesitate to contact me with suggestions. 

*The e-books and databases require a UNT EUID to access; however, there are several web resources on each page that do not require a login. 

If you are here as a SOFFA (Significant Other, Friend, Family, Ally) you can visit the library resource page for SOFFAs for more information. 

Information about the Trans Accessible Libraries Initiative

The University of North Texas Libraries has become a known repository for LGBTQ+ studies through its collections and trained personnel. In addition to striving to be the LGBTQ+ history archive of the South, the Libraries’ are well positioned to provide effective informational resources trans people seek. Yet, recent national surveys indicate that trans people do not typically turn to libraries for their information. 

Current research, including the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equity, highlights some of the barriers to information that transgender individuals face. Moreover, their needs are significantly different from others in the LGBQ+ community. Since this population is hidden unless self-identified, and privacy may be of concern, this guide focuses primarily on online resources.

According to the  U.S. Transgender Survey, “nearly one quarter (24%) of people who were out or perceived to be transgender in college or vocational school were verbally, physically, or sexually harassed.” Additionally, “one in five (20%) did not use at least one type of public accommodation in the last year because they feared they would be mistreated as a transgender person.” Libraries would be included here as a “public accommodation.” 

In a 2017, a research survey by Drake addressed what accommodations libraries needed to make for transgender individuals to feel safe, what areas had the greatest unmet information needs, and why trans people did not use the libraries as an information resource at all. Some of the accommodations the author mentions included current transgender literature, gender identity and expression as part of their institutions’ non-discrimination policy, and gender-neutral restrooms. Unmet information needs included transgender health, legal, and political advocacy information. Some reasons for overall low level of library satisfaction were either not enough applicable resources or out of date resources; therefore, respondents did not consider libraries reliable sources of information. Discomfort at interacting with library staff also made the list.  

This initiative included an assessment of the collection to see what gaps we have in addressing up to date health (physical, medical, sexual, and mental), social, legal, activism, and even fiction books with trans protagonists to focus on those information needs. Funding from a Dean's Innovation Grant awarded to Julie Leuzinger (she/her/hers), Coby Condrey (he/him/his), and Clark Pomerleau (he/him/his) allowed the UNT Libraries to add several e-books to the collection solely focused on the needs of transgender individuals, dedicate staff time to the initiative, and provide promotional materials.  

Research question: How can UNT’s library create a best practices model that responds to trans and gender-nonbinary people’s information seeking behaviors to make the libraries a safe, accessible, quality source for trans information needs?  

Special thanks goes to Kathleen Hobson (they/them/theirs), Director of the UNT Pride Alliance for your support and encouragement. 

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