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Role plays and interactive exercises. Transgender Awareness Training for Health Care Providers Pacific AIDS Education and Training Center Training for Trainers, March, 2003 Lead trainer: Samuel Lurie, www.tgtrain.org. Bathroom awareness exercise: excellent after lunch or break exercise.

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Role plays and interactive exercises

Transgender Awareness Training for Health Care Providers

Pacific AIDS Education and Training Center

Training for Trainers, March, 2003

Lead trainer: Samuel Lurie, www.tgtrain.org


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Bathroom awareness exercise: excellent after lunch or break exercise.

  • During a break, or lunch, ask people to try using the bathroom of the “opposite gender”, the bathroom that they don’t ordinarily use.

  • Give them permission to self-select. They do not have to do this. If they still want to try the exercise, but cannot use the “wrong” bathroom, they should try to find a gender non-specific bathroom that they can use, and still be back in time for the start of the training.

  • Very powerful processing, as this brings up many issues regarding policing of bathrooms, differences culturally in men’s vs. women’s rooms, safety/danger in restrooms, and the need for non-gender specific bathrooms in any space hoping to serve trans people.


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Scenario: The Job Interview/Store

(Characters: Two interviewers and one interviewee) Note: effective with a costume/prop, i.e. a wig for a male; facial hair for a female.

Two people are interviewing a job applicant for a sales job in a clothing retail store. The applicant’s appearance is gender ambiguous. One interviewer thinks the applicant is male and the other thinks the applicant is female. They refer to the applicant using different pronouns. The applicant is vague about former jobs and former employers, and seems uncomfortable about giving references or discussing previous training or education.

Conduct a brief interview, dismiss the applicant, and discuss his/her merits/disadvantages. Use the different pronouns, discuss how you are confused and what that means for your business.


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Scenario: Job Interview/CBO

(Characters: Two interviewers and one interviewee)Note: effective with a costume/prop, i.e. a wig for a male; facial hair for a female.

Two people are interviewing a job applicant to work in a community non-profit organization. (You can decide what kind of job, and interview accordingly.) The applicant’s appearance is gender ambiguous. One interviewer thinks the applicant is male and the other thinks the applicant is female. They refer to the applicant using different pronouns. The applicant seems very competent, but is vague about former jobs and former employers, and seems uncomfortable about giving references or discussing previous training or education.

Conduct a brief interview, dismiss the applicant, and discuss his/her merits/disadvantages. Use the different pronouns, discuss how you are confused and what that means for your organization.


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Scenario: Trip to the Emergency Room

(Characters: Patient, Provider, Patient’s significant other)

A patient comes into the emergency room of a hospital with severeabdominal pain.

  • If played by a man, assume you are an FTM: You are in severe pain and are not comfortable taking off your clothes or being touched by the health care provider. S/he suggests you take off your pants because they have to check your scrotum for a hernia test. If you reveal that you do not have a penis, how does the physician react. If you do not reveal, what happens?

  • If played by a woman, assume you are an MTF:You are in severe abdominal pain and the provider says you will need a pelvic exam, this is standard for this kind of pain. You are not comfortable taking off your clothes or being touched by the health care provider. If you reveal that you have a penis and not a vagina, how does the physician react? If you do not reveal this, what happens?

  • If third person: You are the partner of the person in pain (i.e. husband, wife, lesbian or gay-male partner). You are very concerned and want to help your partner, but not sure how to disclose. It would also mean coming out about your relationship, something the provider could be dismissive and condescending about. What do you do?


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Scenario: Referral to a Drug Treatment Facility

Discussion between a case manager/advocate for a TG patient and in-take worker at Drug Treatment center. (No trans person in this role play—it is an advocacy role play.)

  • Advocate is trying to get an HIV+ TG client into a drug treatment facility, at the patient’s request. The two case workers have worked together in the past and know each other. The client is an MTF who has been living as a woman for 15 years but has not had genital surgery. The in-take worker does not understand and his/her first reaction is to say the client cannot come and would have to go to a men’s program.

  • How can you explain and advocate for the client? What is the response? What are some proposals?


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Scenario: HIV Test

Characters: Transgender client and non-trans counselor.

  • Transgender client comes in for HIV counseling and testing. (If played by a bio man, disclose that you are an FTM. If played by a bio woman, disclose that you are an MTF.)

  • You are concerned that you might have been exposed to HIV through unprotected sex with someone. How does the provider ask about your risks? How are you able to discuss your behavior, your identity, your risks? What questions do you have? How does the counselor answer?


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Cruising for a DateCharacters: one trans, one non-trans personNote: Not for all audiences, and can be quite challenging. Also can be very fun and enlightening. Gauge audience and participants. Check in closely during role play for triggers or difficulties. Use with gay groups really helps reinforce the distinction from sexual orientation and gender identity.

Players have to choose, one trans, one is non-trans:

__Gender Identity: man, woman, trans-identified, etc.

__Trans identity: non-trans, or MTF, FTM, in transition; passing, not passing

__Sexual Orientation: gay, straight, bi, beyond category

Based on a role and situation they can relate to, place this in a typical cruising location for this group. Bar, gym, club, etc.

You’re attracted to each other and start to flirt. There’s something different about this person, something appealing about their mix of gender expressions. The person might be quite passable, and s/he has to decide what and when to tell the other about his/her gender identity, history, genitalia, scars, etc. as they continue (or can’t continue) on this cruising/pick up path.


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