In 2021, our community dedicated Pride Month to gaining a better understanding of gender identity and how it factors into our mission of creating a more inclusive workplace at Bridgewater. As part of that effort, we hosted Glennda Testone, Executive Director of The LGBT Community Center of New York City. In a virtual fireside chat with Bridgewater’s Co-Head of the Investment Engine, Osman Nalbantoglu, Testone shared her perspective on how to think about gender identity and how to empathize with the experiences of transgender and nonbinary communities.
Reflecting on both her personal and professional relationships, she emphasized that when discussing gender identity, the most important lesson one can learn is to never assume how others identify. She explained that gender is on a spectrum and that both gender identification and expression are not necessarily fixed over the course of a person’s life. She voiced, “A lot of our journey and our learning as a community, and as human beings, has been to realize that these things are actually slightly more complex and nuanced than we perhaps thought they were.”
Glennda also underscored that when a community is working to become more gender inclusive, individuals are bound to make mistakes. She said, “We all make mistakes. I think it’s important to make an effort to know who someone is, and to acknowledge that, and to respect that.” Moreover, binary conceptualizations of gender are deeply engrained, so it takes practice to build habits of inclusivity. She told attendees that asking people which gender pronouns they prefer is one such inclusive practice to implement into the workplace.
Fluid and inclusive thinking takes practice. Testone closed the session by reminding our community that making a mistake shouldn’t deter us from trying to build a place where everyone feels acknowledged for who we are. “At the end of the day,” she said, “that’s what we all want.”