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Protecting your private information is our priority. This Statement of Privacy applies to Body and Soul Sovereignty, United and governs data collection and usage. For the purposes of this General Privacy and Donor Policy, unless otherwise noted, all references to Body and Soul Sovereignty, United include Bass U. The Bass U website is a Women's Health Education site. By using the Bass U website, you consent to the data practices described in this statement. 


Collection of your Personal Information 

In order to better provide you with products and services offered, Bass U may collect personally identifiable information, such as your: 


 - First and/or Last Name  

 - E-mail Address 

 - Phone Number 


Please keep in mind that if you directly disclose personally identifiable information or personally sensitive data through Bass U's public message boards, this information may be collected and used by others. 


We do not collect any personal information about you unless you voluntarily provide it to us. However, you may be required to provide certain personal information to us when you elect to use certain products or services. These may include: (a) registering for an account; (b) entering a sweepstakes or contest sponsored by us or one of our partners; (c) signing up for special offers from selected third parties; (d) sending us an email message; (e) submitting your credit card or other payment information when ordering and purchasing products and services. To wit, we will use your information for, but not limited to, communicating with you in relation to services and/or products you have requested from us. We also may gather additional personal or non-personal information in the future if deemed beneficial in providing appropriate and holistic services to you. 


Use of your Personal Information 

Bass U collects and uses your personal information to operate and deliver the services you have requested. 


Bass U may also use your personally identifiable information to inform you of other products or services available from Bass U and its affiliates. 


Sharing Information with Third Parties 

Bass U does not sell, rent or lease its customer lists to third parties. 


Bass U may share data with trusted partners to help perform statistical analysis, send you email or postal mail, provide customer support, or arrange for deliveries. All such third parties are prohibited from using your personal information except to provide these services to Bass U, and they are required to maintain the confidentiality of your information. 


Bass U may disclose your personal information, without notice, if required to do so by law or in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to: (a) conform to the edicts of the law or comply with legal process served on Bass U or the site; (b) protect and defend the rights or property of Bass U; and/or (c) act under exigent circumstances to protect the personal safety of users of Bass U, or the public. 


Tracking User Behavior 

Bass U may keep track of the websites and pages our users visit within Bass U, in order to determine what Bass U services are the most popular. This data is used to deliver customized content and advertising within Bass U to customers whose behavior indicates that they are interested in a particular subject area. 


Automatically Collected Information 

Information about your computer activity may be automatically collected by Bass U. This information can include: your IP address, browser type, domain names, access times and referring website addresses. This information is used for the operation of the service, to maintain quality of the service, and to provide general statistics regarding use of the Bass U website. 


Use of Cookies 

The Bass U website may use "cookies" to help you personalize your online experience. A cookie is a text file that is placed on your hard disk by a web page server. Cookies cannot be used to run programs or deliver viruses to your computer. Cookies are uniquely assigned to you, and can only be read by a web server in the domain that issued the cookie to you. 


One of the primary purposes of cookies is to provide a convenience feature to save you time. The purpose of a cookie is to tell the Web server that you have returned to a specific page. For example, if you personalize Bass U pages, or register with Bass U site or services, a cookie helps Bass U to recall your specific information on subsequent visits. This simplifies the process of recording your personal information, such as billing addresses, shipping addresses, and so on. When you return to the same Bass U website, the information you previously provided can be retrieved, so you can easily use the Bass U features that you customized. 


You have the ability to accept or decline cookies. Most Web browsers automatically accept cookies, but you can usually modify your browser setting to decline cookies if you prefer. If you choose to decline cookies, you may not be able to fully experience the interactive features of the Bass U services or websites you visit. 


Donor Privacy Policy

When you make a donation or order a product or service, we may need to know your name, e-mail address, shipping & billing address, phone number, and credit card information. We also may need to know and collect information relative to supporting your relationship with Body and Soul Sovereignty, United such as your date of birth (to ensure age-appropriate content and compliance with applicable laws) and taxpayer information. This allows us to process and fulfill your donation or order. This information may be collected and stored as part of the transaction (donation or purchase) history. Body and Soul Sovereignty, United may need to share some of this information with delivery services, credit card clearing houses, and other similarly-situated third parties that are required to accomplish the transaction. 


When you subscribe to e-alerts, the information you enter is used to send the requested information. We may also use this information to occasionally notify you about important functional changes to the site and other issues in which we think you may be interested. Each message we send you will include information on how to unsubscribe yourself from our mailing list. Body and Soul Sovereignty, United does not sell, share, or trade donors’ names or personal information with any other entity, except when legally required to disclose such information. We do not send mailing to our donors on behalf of other organizations. Use of donor information is limited to the internal purposes for furthering the stated mission and programs of Body and Soul Sovereignty, United. 


We may publish donor names in an Annual Report or other collateral to recognize donor support which may be available for viewing online. We honor all requests for donors who prefer to give anonymously and safeguard such preferences along with stored donor contact information. 

This policy applies to all information received by Body and Soul Sovereignty, United, both online and offline, on any Platform (“Platform”, includes the website and mobile applications), as well as any electronic, written, or oral communications. To the extent any donations are processed through a third-party service provider, our donors’ information will only be used for purposes necessary to process the donation. 



Body and Soul Sovereignty, United is concerned with the security of the personally identifiable information we have collected and has in place reasonable measures to prevent unauthorized access to that information. These measures include - policies, procedures, and technical elements relating to data access controls. In addition, Body and Soul Sovereignty, United uses standard security protocols and mechanisms to exchange the transmission of sensitive data such as credit card details. 


When you make a donation, place orders, or access your account information, we offer the use of a secure server. The secure server software (SSL) encrypts all information you input before it is sent to us. Furthermore, all of the customer data we collect is protected against unauthorized access.  Body and Soul Sovereignty, United assures you that the identity of all who contact us through the Site is kept confidential: we do not sell, trade, or rent your personal information to others. Body and Soul Sovereignty, United may release account information when we believe, in good faith, that such release is reasonably necessary to: (i) comply with law, or (ii) protect the rights, property or safety of Body and Soul Sovereignty, United, our users, or others. As with most other Internet sites, our web servers record the IP address of each visitor to the Site. This IP address tells us which domain you visited from (for instance,, but not your email address or other private and personal information. We use this information to help diagnose problems with our servers, to administer the Site more effectively, and to gather broad demographic information about what countries and domains our visitors hail from and their behavior on the Site. 



This website contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the content or privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of any other site that collects personally identifiable information. 


Security of your Personal Information 

Bass U secures your personal information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. Bass U uses the following methods for this purpose: 


 - SSL Protocol 


When personal information (such as a credit card number) is transmitted to other websites, it is protected through the use of encryption, such as the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol. 


We strive to take appropriate security measures to protect against unauthorized access to or alteration of your personal information. Unfortunately, no data transmission over the Internet or any wireless network can be guaranteed to be 100% secure. As a result, while we strive to protect your personal information, you acknowledge that: (a) there are security and privacy limitations inherent to the Internet which are beyond our control; and (b) security, integrity, and privacy of any and all information and data exchanged between you and us through this Site cannot be guaranteed. 


Right to Deletion 

Subject to certain exceptions set out below, on receipt of a verifiable request from you, we will: 

• Delete your personal information from our records; and 

• Direct any service providers to delete your personal information from their records. 


Please note that we may not be able to comply with requests to delete your personal information if it is necessary to:


• Complete the transaction for which the personal information was collected, fulfill the terms of a written warranty or product recall conducted in accordance with federal law, provide a good or service requested by you, or reasonably anticipated within the context of our ongoing business relationship with you, or otherwise perform a contract between you and us; 

• Detect security incidents, protect against malicious, deceptive, fraudulent, or illegal activity; or prosecute those responsible for that activity; 

• Debug to identify and repair errors that impair existing intended functionality; 

• Exercise free speech, ensure the right of another consumer to exercise his or her right of free speech, or exercise another right provided for by law; 

• Comply with the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act; 

• Engage in public or peer-reviewed scientific, historical, or statistical research in the public interest that adheres to all other applicable ethics and privacy laws, when our deletion of the information is likely to render impossible or seriously impair the achievement of such research, provided we have obtained your informed consent; 

• Enable solely internal uses that are reasonably aligned with your expectations based on your relationship with us; 

• Comply with an existing legal obligation; or 

• Otherwise use your personal information, internally, in a lawful manner that is compatible with the context in which you provided the information. 


Children Under Thirteen 

Bass U does not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from children under the age of thirteen. If you are under the age of thirteen, you must ask your parent or guardian for permission to use this website. 


Disconnecting your Bass U Account from Third Party Websites 

You will be able to connect your Bass U account to third party accounts. BY CONNECTING YOUR BASS U ACCOUNT TO YOUR THIRD-PARTY ACCOUNT, YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT YOU ARE CONSENTING TO THE CONTINUOUS RELEASE OF INFORMATION ABOUT YOU TO OTHERS (IN ACCORDANCE WITH YOUR PRIVACY SETTINGS ON THOSE THIRD-PARTY SITES). IF YOU DO NOT WANT INFORMATION ABOUT YOU, INCLUDING PERSONALLY IDENTIFYING INFORMATION, TO BE SHARED IN THIS MANNER, DO NOT USE THIS FEATURE. You may disconnect your account from a third-party account at any time. Users may learn how to disconnect their accounts from third-party websites by visiting their "My Account" page. Users may also contact us via email or telephone with any questions or concerns. 


E-mail Communications 

From time to time, Bass U may contact you via email for the purpose of providing announcements, promotional offers, alerts, confirmations, surveys, and/or other general communication. In order to improve our Services, we may receive a notification when you open an email from Bass U or click on a link therein. 


If you would like to stop receiving marketing or promotional communications via email from Bass U, you may opt out of such communications by Customers may unsubscribe from emails by "replying STOP" or clicking on the UNSUBSCRIBE button.. 


External Data Storage Sites 

We may store your data on servers provided by third party hosting vendors with whom we have contracted. 


Changes to this Statement 

Bass U reserves the right to change this Privacy Policy from time to time. We will notify you about significant changes in the way we treat personal information by sending a notice to the primary email address specified in your account, by placing a prominent notice on our website, and/or by updating any privacy information. Your continued use of the website and/or Services available after such modifications will constitute your: (a) acknowledgment of the modified Privacy Policy; and (b) agreement to abide and be bound by that Policy. 


Contact Information 

Bass U welcomes your questions or comments regarding this Statement of Privacy. If you believe that Bass U has not adhered to this Statement, please contact Bass U at: 


Body and Soul Sovereignty United 


Scottsdale, Arizona 85260


Email Address: 


Telephone number: 



Effective as of August 01, 2021 


Copyright © 2024, Body and Soul Sovereignty, United. All Rights Reserved.


trauma-informed care policy

I.            Purpose:  The purpose of this policy is to promote an online health education service that employs and practices principles that are trauma sensitive and trauma-informed to American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) women and their communities. Body and Soul Sovereignty, United (Bass U) will also provide adequate supervision and training to prevent employees from experiencing compassion fatigue and/or vicarious traumatization. 


Let it be known that when the terms, “woman or women” are used in this policy, the terms encompass all facets of women as personally defined by the individual, including Two-Spirit (Trans) women.  


II.  Policy:  Trauma sensitivity shall be a governing principle of Bass U.  Services

within this system must meet the needs of AIAN women who have potentially experienced trauma by establishing an environment that is safe, protects privacy and confidentiality, and eliminates the potential for revictimization. Bass U shall promote recovery by understanding trauma and its effects on individuals and their families.  The staff at Bass U shall be sensitive and respectful towards individuals while encouraging autonomy and hope.  Encouraging personal sovereignty by fostering strengths shall be the major focus in guiding women with a history of trauma towards recovery.


III.  Definition and Sequelae of Trauma:  


Trauma refers to extreme stress that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope.  Trauma involves events or experiences that confront the person directly or as a witness to a real or perceived threat of death, human suffering, severe bodily harm or injury, coercive exploitation or harassment, sexual violation, violence motivated by ethno cultural prejudice, gender, sexual orientation, or politically based. 


Current scientific evidence has confirmed that psychological trauma has a direct impact on the brain through associated physical, neurological, and stress response systems.  These experiences directly and indirectly affect mood, memory, judgment, and involvement in relationships and health.  The psychobiological impact of trauma leads to a sense of fear, helplessness, horror, detachment, and/or confusion.  It also impacts an individual’s perception towards self, others, and the world.  Staff reactivity to the safety concerns expressed by clients in the learning environment must be consciously and thoughtfully planned in order to create an environment conducive to healing and recovery. 


Experiences of trauma (such as childhood physical or sexual abuse or neglect, or adult domestic violence) compounded by the epigenetically ingrained sequelae of historical and current day colonialism, are forms of betrayal of the basic human values often associated with short and long-term post-traumatic impairment in the survivor’s sense of self, trust in others, involvement in society, culture, health and integrity of the body. 


A high percentage of AIAN women with severe and persistent behavioral health challenges have experienced the direct or indirect effects of trauma.  Many suffer from post-traumatic symptoms exacerbating other behavioral health problems, impairing psychosocial functioning and interfering with the quality of their lives. 


Trauma-informed System:


A trauma sensitive response incorporates approaches which are both trauma-specific and trauma-informed.  The staff at Bass U must have an understanding of trauma and the effects and symptoms displayed by the individuals within the forum of learning.  The system must be designed in such a way to allow Indigenous women to participate in their own recovery without the possibility of re-traumatization.  The goal of an integrative approach is to recognize and be cognizant of the fact that mental illness and substance abuse as normal coping mechanisms often coincide with trauma, thereby requiring that all aspects of an individual’s learning needs be treated holistically.  


IV.  Guiding Principles:  For the purpose of Bass U staff and the Torchbearer program, Bass U shall:


A.  Take the universal approach - recognize that the majority of all women, especially women of color seeking services and/or are currently involved in services have at one point in their life experienced trauma.  As such, trauma sensitive services must be applied universally to every individual. 


B.  As part of the Torchbearer service, offer trauma screening and follow-up that is suitable to the woman and should be performed upon intake if the woman chooses. An appropriate behavioral health assessment of trauma exposure, history and symptoms should be integrated into the client’s case management for the provision of integrated care.  The long-term goal is to promote more holistic management of primary, secondary and tertiary preventative care and creating a linkage to community trauma-specific services that are individualized to meet a woman’s desired outcome.


C.  Provide education to all staff members that serve AIAN women:


1.  on the potential effects and impact on therapeutic relationships and personal wellbeing.  


2.  on personal and professional boundaries and on understanding behaviors of individuals with a history of trauma. 


3.  on cultural competence and gender sensitivity.  


4.  on the promotion of a system that is both trauma-informed and sensitive.


D.  Provide adequate supervision and training to prevent staff from experiencing compassion fatigue and/or vicarious traumatization. 


E.  Provide clear and specific services to Native survivors of trauma.  Women receiving services must be informed of their rights, who they will be working with, what goals they wish to achieve, and the expectations of their participation.  Boundaries should be made clear and be consistent in order to achieve trustworthiness. 


F.  Focus on individual choice as a way to maximize autonomy and empowerment.  Individuals should have a right to choose the services they receive and who provides them.  Recovery is achieved by giving Native women control in making their own decisions and choosing goals that are relevant to their progress. 


G.  Support collaboration and shared power between the women and her service provider.  Native women will have a role in evaluating the agency’s services.  AIAN women will be invited to participate in service planning, goal setting and in all other facets of integrated service.  The women will be seen as the experts of their recovery.    


H.  Empower Native women and promote health literacy as an integral part of the services being provided.  There should be an emphasis on individual growth and a focus on individual strength.  Contact with providers should give Native women the opportunity to ‘learn and confirm’ new health knowledge using “The Shared Approach,” in their experience with the provider.


V.  Guiding Principles in the Care of Women Affected by Trauma (SAMHSA, 2011):


A.  American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) women and girls are more frequently vulnerable to violence and trauma at any point throughout their life span. Women and girls are significantly more likely to be victimized by someone they know and love, rather than by a stranger.  This vulnerability must be addressed in prevention efforts as well as other mental health and substance abuse services. Trauma-informed environments based on safety, respect, and dignity are essential for the prevention and treatment of Native women across their life spans.


B.  Trauma can have a strong and long-lasting effect on development and on the experiences of AIAN women and girls. It can affect a woman’s or girl’s world view, including her social-emotional responses, her view of herself, and her ability to trust others. Past trauma can influence current skills, experiences, and feelings. It can have an impact on every area of their life, including parenting, relationships, work, and self-care.


C.  Relationships are critical to the emotional development of women and girls and also play a significant role in both the development of, and recovery from, mental health and substance use conditions. Thus, competencies for working with Native women and girls must address the relational-cultural context of their functioning.


D.  Adolescence, pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause are distinct periods in a Native woman’s life, each accompanied by a range of physiological, psychological, and developmental changes, with changing risks, opportunities, and support needs. Staff serving women and girls need to be familiar with each of these stages.


E.  Mental health and substance use conditions affect the entire family. Parenting and caregiving are key roles and important aspects of identity for many Native women; they must be taken into account when providing them services.


F.  Effectively addressing the needs of Native women includes considering the needs of her children (of all ages) for whom she is responsible. Culturally sensitive, family-centered work with a woman’s family — as she defines it — is critical to her learning, health and well-being. This includes working with intimate partners as well as other family members.


G.  Women often have high levels of burden as seen in their social determinants of health (co-occurring significant challenges such as poverty, co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, homelessness, trauma, compromised health, and a lack of child care, transportation, etc.), which affects access to services, engagement, retention, and recovery. 


H.  Tailor learning approaches to a woman’s age, experience, life stage, social situation, and cultural traditions, and deliver services appropriate to the unique needs of the individual girl or woman and her family and community. Women feel encouraged to continue services when they feel cared for and are connected with others.


I.  Societal and cultural interpretations and contexts shape how the trauma experiences of Native women and girls are defined, accepted, and prevented, and that this social context also influences how women and girls cope with violence and trauma. 


J.  The shame and personal guilt feelings women and girls typically experience when they are trauma survivors can inhibit a woman’s or girl’s ability to report, disclose, or discuss violence and trauma.  As such, it is the woman’s right to choose disclosure or not; to report or not, and to be supported either way; never denied services because of her choice.


K.  The developmental impact of violence and trauma on girls in childhood and adolescence can influence their transition to adulthood. 


L.  There is increased vulnerability to violence and trauma for girls and women with disabilities, including those with physical disabilities as well as those with intellectual or developmental disabilities.


M.  Always consider the potential impact of historical-cultural and intergenerational trauma and express belief, when a Native woman tells you that she is still affected by the trauma to this current day.


N.  The range of responses to traumatic life experiences, including coping strategies can mimic “symptoms” of other mental health disorders.


O.  Identify and respond to trauma disclosures and reactions appropriately and with cultural sensitivity. (Culture includes age, race, ethnicity, class, religion, ability status, and gender/ sexual preference.)


P.  Women and girls who are trauma survivors may have “triggers” of traumatic memories that can cause them to re-enact the trauma during the experience of learning.  A woman’s or girl’s trauma reaction may manifest as defiance, emotional dysregulation, and/or lack of motivation as normal coping responses to the triggers.  It is imperative that Bass U staff not impose punitive responses to these reactions. 


Q.  Create and contribute to a safe prevention or treatment environment that encourages connection, empowerment, and mutuality, and minimizes coercion.


R.  Recognize potential behaviors (including tone of voice), and/or situations, such as drug testing, confrontation, restraint, or seclusion, that could retraumatize women and girls in their encounters with staff and slow the process of developing a therapeutic alliance.




S.  Pregnant women with mental health and/or substance use conditions benefit from the early identification of pregnancy and early start of prenatal education to establish a comprehensive and informative plan of care. 


T.  Consider the signs and symptoms of the continuum of maternal and postpartum emotions (including depression and psychosis) and the impact on the mother and family system.


U.  Levels of stress and stressors (including the risk of intimate partner violence) may increase during pregnancy especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.


V.  Screen for the continuum of maternal and postpartum emotions and disorders such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis, and take appropriate action when needed.


Relationships with Providers:


W.  Staff members often have life experiences with mental health problems, substance abuse, and trauma that they have in common with the women they serve. The staff members’ experiences, when coupled with self-awareness and appropriate boundaries, add depth to their ability to develop and implement appropriate learning opportunities. Those with lived experiences become special informants in the delivery of comprehensive, gender-responsive education and guidance in maternal and women’s health.


X.  Assist women and girls to communicate effectively with health care providers (e.g., preparing a list of questions, listening, taking notes, asking for written information, and disclosing sensitive personal information).


Y.  Value and express compassion, warmth, support, empathy, authenticity, humility, and sensitivity toward women and girls. 


Z.  Value women and girls as active participants in their health and wellness, and recognize that they are capable of setting their own priorities and identifying steps toward change.


Self-awareness and Professional Development:


AA.  Conduct a self-assessment to identify one’s own capacity to serve women and girls who have experienced violence or trauma. This includes being skilled at knowing when to “do no harm” by referring the individual to a clinician with more highly developed skills and training in trauma. 


BB.  Recognize how one’s own socialization, attitudes, and knowledge about gender may affect their professional practice with women and girls.


CC.  Recognize one’s personal biases (e.g., concerning race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, language, ability, education, and citizenship status) and consider how these biases may affect, expand, or limit attitudes or approaches to serving women and girls.


DD.  Recognize one’s own vulnerability, including the potential to internalize responses to client experiences of trauma, grief, and loss, and be willing to seek appropriate clinical supervision and other supports. 


EE.  Be willing to work collaboratively with colleagues and professionals from other disciplines.


FF.  Be motivated to learn and grow continually. 


GG.  Be motivated to take care of oneself and model a healthy lifestyle for women and girls. 


HH.  Recognize how one’s personal and professional code of ethics fits in with serving women and girls.




Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2011). Addressing the Needs of Women and Girls: Developing Core Competencies for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service Professionals. HHS Pub. No. (SMA) 11-4657. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.




Revised:  TBA


Original Policy Date: 08/2021

Updated: 08/2024


January 1, 2023


The mission of Body and Soul Sovereignty, United (Bass U), a non-profit organization in Phoenix, Arizona, supports the inclusivity of Two-Spirit people – the embodiment of two genders residing within one person who are gender queer, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming tribal members.   Two-Spirit is a pan-view encompassing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and asexual + more (LGBTQIA+),  and are valued as the “Keepers of balance.”


When serving Two-Spirit people, it is essential that non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies include language specifically addressing sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.  By promoting an open, accepting environment with employees, service practices and clients, we can affirm the organization’s commitment to serve those in need without prejudice. 


Non-Discrimination Personnel Policy 

Bass U is committed to creating an environment that supports an equal employment opportunity and values healthcare equity in those served by ensuring non-discrimination for all persons, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, marital status, national origin, or disability.  


Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Policy for Service Users 

Recognizing that prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping are prevalent through society and dedicated to the creation of a safe, secure space for those seeking employment with Bass U or seeking services as clientele, it shall be the policy of Bass U to maintain and promote an organization that provides the highest quality work environment to all Two-Spirit employees and to support the clients they serve. Two-Spirit staff at Bass U, shall receive fair and equal treatment, without bias, and shall be treated in a professional manner. 

Employees, volunteers, peers and other individuals involved in providing services to Two-Spirit clients shall not discriminate against nor harass any self-identified client in their care and shall immediately report any evidence of discrimination, physical or sexual harassment, and verbal harassment of any such identified persons to the Executive Director.  Staff members and clients who feel they have been subjected to discrimination or harassment should also report this occurrence to the Executive Director.  

Bass U will take all reasonable steps within its control to meet the diverse needs of all Two-Spirit staff seeking employment and provide an environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. 

1.  Sexual Orientation: The culturally-defined set of meanings through which people describe their sexual attractions. Sexual orientation is not static and can shift over time. 

2.  Gender Identity: An individual’s internal view of their gender. Their own innermost sense of themselves as a gendered being and/or as masculine, feminine, androgynous, etc. This will often influence name and pronoun preference.

3.  Gender Expression: Aspects of behavior and outward presentation that may (intentionally or unintentionally) communicate gender to others in a given culture or society, including clothing, body language, hairstyles, voice, socialization, relationships, career choices, interests, and presence in gendered spaces (restrooms, places of worship, etc.).

Transgender Identification and Support Policy 


Bass U recognizes that Transgender employees may face additional challenges in the workplace.  Affirming our commitment to an inclusive environment and embracing diversity of our staff, Bass U seeks to ensure that employees who are currently transitioning or who have already undergone gender transitions are treated in an equal and respectful manner.  Transgender employees are encouraged to dress consistently with their gender identity and should be addressed with the pronouns relevant to the gender with which they identify.  Additionally, as Bass U respects all employees’ right to privacy, Transgender employees shall not be subject to unwanted questions regarding their status, medical history, or sexual orientation.  

Service Users 

As part of its commitment to provide services to those in need without discrimination or harassment, Bass U also promotes an environment that is accepting and encouraging to Transgender service users.  Service users identifying specifically as Transgender shall receive support and accommodation from Bass U in determining their needs.  Pronouns used and any clothing provided shall reflect the gender with which the client identifies, and confidentiality shall be respected in regards to disclosures concerning Transgender status, medical history or sexual orientation. 


Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Policy 

Bass U seeks to provide a supportive environment for Two-Spirit employees and service users by treating with respect those persons who are open about their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Bass U also recognizes that some people might not wish to share this information with fellow employees, service users, or others involved in the organization and is equally dedicated to respecting the confidentiality of those persons.  Employees, volunteers, peers and other individuals involved in the operation of Bass U will never disclose sensitive information about an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity without that person’s expressed written consent. Those in violation of this policy will be addressed.  

Health education for Two-Spirit members is available from the Fenway Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. - free online education is available for both healthcare providers and clients.


Best Practices to Prepare for Onboarding Two-Spirit Staff 

This section includes a guide to the following subjects. Note that the order of these sections is not intended to dictate an order for how the agency should implement improved practices when serving Two-Spirit staff. 

  1. Assessing the agency;  

  2. Two-Spirit cultural competency training;  

  3. Collaboration with Two-Spirit and ally organizations;  

  4. Working with staff, board members, peers and volunteers;  

4.  Gender transition: The process through which a person modifies his or her physical characteristics and/or gender expression to be consistent with his or her gender identity. Gender transition may, but does not necessarily, include hormone therapy, sex reassignment surgeries and/or other medical or surgical components.  The process may also include telling one’s family, friends and/or co-workers, and changing one’s name and/or gender on legal documents.  As each person’s transition is unique to that individual’s needs, there is no defined set of steps which add up to a “complete” transition.

  1. Making your organization a welcoming environment;  

  2. Direct services practices, including advocacy, shelter, group services and education;  

  3. Outreach and media; and  

  4. Resources. 

1. Assess the Agency 

The first step for implementing a model policy is determining where to start.  A thorough organizational assessment should be done to determine what is going well and where the organization can grow to better serve Two-Spirit employees and clients.  A good assessment that will serve your agency well includes ascertaining whether the following building blocks are in place: 

  • Support is already established for organizational growth toward improving services.  This can include people outside of the organization such as key stakeholders, funders, and other allies, and it can include people within the agency, such as coworkers or colleagues.  Ideally, both the board and the staff should have a commitment to welcoming Two-Spirit staff. 

  • Involvement of all parties in the process.  One way to ensure this is to have an advisory committee formed of Tribal leadership, board members, staff, peers, volunteers and those with lived experiences. 

  • Technical assistance and advice from Two-Spirit, Native organizations to support the process. 


2. Two-Spirit Cultural Competency Training 

The question is not “Do we need more training?” but “How much more training, and in what areas do we need it?”  Even the most culturally sensitive organizations incorporate ongoing training around certain topics in order to maintain their competence. 

  • Trainings should include an introduction to Two-Spirit communities.  Extra time should be devoted to understanding the needs of specifically, Transgender communities and individuals, since so many people struggle to understand how they are different from those of LGBQIA+ persons, and because both Arizona and national data show that Transgender individuals are especially impacted by discrimination and violence of all kinds. 

  • Training must also be conducted on the specific issues of Two-Spirit employer and employment incivility and the ways that this ties into other forms of horizontal and lateral violence experienced in the community by Two-Spirit persons. 

  • Because of the powerful links between history, oppression and violence, anti-oppression training should be an integral part of the agency’s regular staff development curricula.  It is important to provide staff, peers and volunteers the vocabulary, conceptual structure, and tools to address situations that arise around issues of oppression within the organization, whether the oppression is related to gender identity and/or sexual orientation, racial identity, class identity, religious identity or another identity. 

  • Training in Two-Spirit health and educational topics should be covered in onboarding staff, peer, and volunteer  training.  This ensures that (a) new personnel begin with a basic understanding of these areas and (b) sends the message that your organization is inclusive and understanding of the needs of Two-Spirit people.


3. Collaborate with Two-Spirit and Ally Organizations 

Becoming Two-Spirit inclusive is a rewarding process that requires input from well informed sources.  Collaborating early in the process with an organization that has expertise in Two-Spirit health issues and challenges like Fenway Institute is strongly recommended. It positions staff well to understand the plight of the employees and clients when seeking healthcare.  Building partnerships with Two-Spirit and ally organizations can offer important benefits: 

  • Ongoing technical assistance, as noted above, can provide valuable support and address challenges and pitfalls. 

  • Strong connections to Two-Spirit community organizations can be a source of support for leadership to determine how to best serve the needs of Two-Spirit staff and clients. 

  • Maintaining awareness of current issues relevant to Two-Spirit communities, such as legislation that may impact their health and ability to access health education; in addition, provide insight to the social and legal framework that staff and clients must navigate. 

  • Good relationships with Two-Spirit and ally organizations are a way to create accountability to those communities.  These connections can provide the opportunity to find out where the Two-Spirit expert providers are.  These providers might be able to offer suggestions regarding changes the organization could make to improve accessibility for service users. 


4. Working with Staff, Board Members, and Volunteers 

Two-Spirit staff in nonprofit and other organizations must feel safe to be out in that environment. The perception of feeling unsafe because of discrimination and harassment may be triggering which in turn, can potentially affect the experience of the clients who seek services from the organization. 

  • The employee handbook and organizational policies should contain anti-discrimination policies that include gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, and marital status, along with other protected classes.  Further, they should be paired with carefully outlined procedures for reporting discrimination and harassment. 

  • Standard procedures for hiring should include advertising positions in Two-Spirit and other LGBTQIA+ publications, message boards, and listservs.  Job listings should always clearly state that Two-Spirit/LGBTQIA+ persons are encouraged to apply.  During interviews, prospective employees should be made aware that the organization works with Two-Spirit persons.  Assess whether applicants are comfortable with these sections of the agency’s mission, vision and policies before making hiring decisions. 

  • Agencies should protect Two-Spirit survivors of violence they work with as well as client survivors through a policy of screening all volunteers, employees, peers and board members during their interview and application process. In addition to this, it is important to have a procedure in place to describe how the organization will respond if a staff member is being abusive or if allegations of abuse are brought against the agency. 

  • Along the same lines, policies addressing how staff should be protected if they report abuse outside the workplace. This can include strategies for offering support, planning around safety, and allowing for time off if needed.  The policy should also state that employees who are violence survivors should not be coerced to leave their relationships in order to retain their jobs. 

  • To be fully inclusive of all Two-Spirit employees, organizations should have (1) written procedures for accommodating Transgender health-related concerns and needs, including gender transition and (2) domestic partner-inclusive employee benefits with health insurance and family leave policies. 

  • Policy and procedure manuals should be easily accessible to all staff, volunteers and peers and leadership should be ready to respond to questions regarding policies and procedures. 


5. Making the Organization a Welcoming Environment 

  • Create and maintain a comprehensive list of local resources for Two-Spirit staff and clients.  Include shelters, medical programs, support groups, legal assistance, hotlines, and any other resources that are Two-Spirit/LGBTQIA+ specific.  Since not all resources are fully trans-inclusive, be sure to include some trans-specific resources. Be sure to keep the list updated and listen to their feedback about which programs work well and which do not. 

  • Implement a screening process for all those accessing services to determine whether they are a survivor or abuser.  It is an opportunity to build a good relationship with the coworker and/or client, and help to keep them safe.  Furthermore, any form of discrimination, violence or biased interaction contributes to the breakdown of communication and can affect health literacy in Two-Spirit peoples.

  • Agency anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies must be explicit and be made available to both Two-Spirit employees and clients.  Staff should receive this information in their handbook and clients should receive it during their intake into the Torchbearer program;  ensure that they are receiving the information both orally and in written form.  Guidance should also be given on how to and where to file a grievance. 

  • In order to be effective, program staff must act quickly and fairly to implement policies around discrimination and harassment when an incident occurs. 

  • Forms must be modified to be inclusive of all genders, as the simple choice of male or female does not work for many people.  There are a number of options around how to modify forms to be inclusive of transgender and gender non-conforming people.  One such option is to have two questions:   

      Question One: “Sex assigned at birth:”                Female  Male  

      Question Two: “Current gender identity:”          Woman    Man       Transgender,  MTF      

      Transgender,  FTM,       Other_______________           Prefer not to disclose 

  • If the organization requires photo identification, then consider having a space for the individual’s preferred name along with their legal name.  This helps Trans people feel more welcomed and for others who go by a nickname rather than their legal name. 

  • Bathrooms must be safe and accessible for Transgender and gender non-conforming people.  There are many ways to accomplish this.  One example is to provide single-stall bathrooms.  If the organization is in a building that has single-stall bathrooms, but not on the floor where the individual works, a sign could be posted next to the gendered bathrooms that indicates where single-stall bathrooms are located in the building.  

  • Make Two-Spirit handouts and resources available to the staff and clients.  Keep these magazines, newspapers, and service-related brochures in the waiting area.  If there is a library within the building, ensure that books and movies with Two-Spirit topics and/or characters are included in the collection. 

  • Display Two-Spirit inclusive posters and images in the office.  There are many organizations that will send posters for free or who have posters available online for free download. 


6. Direct Service Practices:  


Being an effective advocate for Two-Spirit staff and clients requires competency in working with these communities.  The following are ways in which healthcare and social service advocates can interact with Two-Spirit clients respectfully. 

  • Use gender-inclusive language on all levels of the interaction, including on the phone, in person, in the forms, and when talking about the health and social challenges that they face on a daily basis.  This shows respect, empathy and compassion for them.  Conversely, using the wrong term to describe the sexuality or gender of a Two-Spirit coworker or client or when discussing their partner, can make that person feel unsafe, invisible, and unwelcomed.  Another way to be respectful is to mirror the language that people use for themselves. 

  • Consider whether identifying their gender is really needed.  If they are not filling out a form, it may not come up.  It may be more functional to simply ask what pronoun the person prefers. 

  • Be a shield against homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and heterosexism.  Understand how health, social services, law enforcement and the court systems are dictated by these biases.  Consider making initial advocacy calls to other service providers on behalf of the employee/client in order to serve as a buffer against these transgressions. Determine how truly inclusive another program is.  

  • Help Two-Spirit clients by preparing them to deal with service providers who may have biases.  Give them an idea of which programs work better with these individuals and which do not.  Be available to both coworkers and clients in case they are in need of help in educating providers about their issues as Two-Spirit persons, or if they need support in dealing with a homophobic, biphobic, transphobic, or heterosexist situation that arises while interacting with a provider. 

  • Interrupt and confront homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and heterosexism.  When these kinds of remarks or situations go unaddressed, Two-Spirit people and their allies can feel deeply hurt, humiliated, angry, embarrassed, or threatened which is a trigger for retraumatization.  Unfortunately, the person making the remark or creating the situation gets the message that it is acceptable to behave in this way.  These problematic comments and actions should be interrupted at the time of the insult especially when they are coming from clients, coworkers, or from other service providers. 


Safety Planning: Special Considerations for Two-Spirit Persons affected by IPV

  • Two-Spirit individuals who may be in an abusive situation may share the same small community, thus requiring very careful safety planning.  Does the survivor and abuser have friends in common?  If yes, then advocates should help the survivor consider which friends will be likely to keep information confidential and avoid placing the survivor in danger.  Similarly, careful planning should be done when survivors are planning to enter their community spaces or when accessing their services. 


  • Two-Spirit survivors must take homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia into account when deciding whether or not to access medical, mental health, social services, public benefits, law enforcement, or the courts.  The history of police brutality and other negative interactions between Two-Spirit people and service providers make it important to listen to the survivors’ lived experiences during safety planning. 

  • Homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia may also mean that a survivor may not have support from family members, their faith community, healthcare providers, and other significant resources.  As a result, the survivor may require extra safety planning around getting needed emotional support. 



  • It is important to determine whether you are talking to the survivor or the abuser in a suspected situation of violence when referring them to an attorney or providing legal advocacy.  Limited legal resources available to the survivors and attorney-client privilege mandates that once lawyers are working with one partner, they are then barred from working with the other. 



  • Two-Spirit staff or clients should be offered help in seeking shelter arrangements according to their self-identified gender and/or their safety needs if in danger.  For Transgender survivors, this must not be determined for them, nor should it be dependent upon physical appearance or what surgeries they have had.  

  • Maintain confidentiality, such as medical information or even a staff/client's self-identification. This minimizes the risk of discrimination and violence. Transgender status is personal health information and is not the concern of others. Staff may also not ask for medical specifics of a Transgender client’s transition outside of what is asked of all clients. 

  • Donations for Transwomen should include razors and larger sized women’s clothing.  Depriving Transwomen the ability to shave can put them at risk for harassment and make them uncomfortable about their appearance.  Resources should include Transgender specific services and programs that accept Transgender women. 

  • Donations for gay, bisexual, and Transgender men should include gender-appropriate clothing and toiletry items.  Resources should include services and programs that take men as well as some that are specifically for men and/or Transgender persons. 

  • Transgender clients who use hormones must be able to access them.  If this is an issue, the staff will need to inquire on behalf of the person and pursue avenues for accessing the needed medication. This medication should be treated in the same manner as all other medication. If the client does not have a prescription, the staff should ensure that the individual is referred to the appropriate services to obtain a prescription. 

  • Staff should be aware of and respect the name and pronouns (“he,” “she,” “ze,” or other pronouns of the client's choosing) the client would like staff to use, regardless of legal documentation. Staff should explain to clients the necessity of a legal name being used on forms, with chosen names used by staff and other clients appropriately. 

  • Ensure safe bathroom and shower options. The staff should discuss the facility’s shower and bathroom accommodations with a survivor upon intake.  Transgender people should be welcomed to use bathrooms and showers that correspond to their self-identified gender or the facilities that feel safest for them. Often this can include private shower times. However, clients should not be forced to use private bathrooms and shower spaces. Other people's discomfort is not a valid reason to deny a Transgender person access to facilities.  


Group Services 

  • Ensure that the client has access to support groups for Two-Spirit survivors at preferred confidential times and locations.  Confidentiality is particularly important because Two-Spirit communities are so much smaller, so the time and location of a support group are more likely to become known to an unsuspecting friend or community member who could pass that information on to the participant’s abusive partner. As an employer, it is vital to accommodate  Two-Spirit staff members when they feel the need to leave the job in order to stay safe.


7. Outreach and Media 

  • Re-examine the agency’s philosophical approach to violence and trauma.  In light of the current research on the prevalence of violence and trauma in all diverse groups, many organizations have expanded their model to apply a universal approach when addressing violence and the effects of trauma.  As such, Bass U views power and oppression as the root causes of all violence, with sexism being one branch of that root.  Oppression also includes racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, heterosexism, ableism, classism, etc.  Each form of oppression gives privileged group power at the expense of another. 

  • Get the word out to Two-Spirit communities in the service area that the organization exists and is welcoming and hiring Two-Spirit candidates.  Advertise in media sources within their communities and ensure that Two-Spirit service providers are aware that the organization works with Two-Spirit people. 

  • Attend Two-Spirit/LGBTQIA+ events.  In addition to Pride events and marches, community events can include theater performances, queer softball leagues, dance classes, parenting groups, and a multitude of other activities.  The organization could participate at these events to work at an outreach table, co-sponsor an event, volunteer to help out, offer meeting space, or help with publicity. 

  • Participate in Two-Spirit/LGBTQIA+ campaigns and causes.  The organization can support campaigns around legislation and governmental policy change by writing press statements to the media, joining coalitions, attending rallies and hearings, or by signing petitions about relevant Two-Spirit/LGBTQIA+ causes. 


8. Resources 

The following documents served as sources for the Virginia Anti-Violence project, the developer of this policy. Bass U has adopted and adapted the information to serve the Two-Spirit community and to bring awareness through policy, of the health and social needs of Two-Spirit individuals.  The intent of this endeavor is to negate all healthcare and social service disparities that have been associated with adverse health in Two-Spirit/LGBTQIA+ communities.  The healthcare disparities have also profoundly affected their need for improved access to health education and improved client-provider relationships.


Trans Alliance Society, Trans Inclusion Policy Manual for Women’s Organizations, Winter 2002.  


Trans Alliance Society, Exploring Transgendered Community and Gender Based 

Programs In Greater Victoria, by Lisa Warrilow, Project of the Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group’s Research Internship Program, Transcend Transgender Support and Education Society and University of Victoria Sociology 373, 2003.  


Trans Alliance Society, Re/Defining Gender and Sex: Educating for Trans, Transsexual, and Intersex Access and Inclusion to Sexual Assault Centers and Transition Houses, a thesis submitted by Caroline White in accordance with requirements for a Master of Arts 


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