Real Talk About Training for City Employees

Building more welcoming environments for trans people

Our Manager of Training and Education, Shane Zaldivar, recently sat for an interview about our training offerings for employees of the City and County of San Francisco. Watch the video, then visit to learn more.

YouTube video:
Photo of Shane Zaldivar pointing to notes on a whiteboard.



[Text on screen: Office of Transgender Initiatives — Real Talk About Training for City Employees]

Hi, my name is Shane Zaldivar, my pronouns are she/her, and I am the Manager of Training and Education here at the Office of Transgender Initiatives.

[Text on screen: What are some rewarding things about your role?]

I think one of the most rewarding things about this role is creating a space where people feel comfortable enough to ask questions, and I can also provide really useful information on how to build welcoming environments for trans people within the City and County, and with people who work directly with the community.

There’s a lot of people out there who don’t know the harsh realities that we face as a trans community sometimes, whether it’s around how hard it is to find housing, how often we’re discriminated against to find employment. So sometimes it can be really great to just have a space where we can have those conversations.

I think another great thing I get to do with my role is educate people on some of the amazing accomplishments we have, not only as a trans community, but specifically in the City and County of San Francisco.

[Text on screen: How is OTI training valuable to City employees?]

I think training is important because it offers someone on the other side intentional space to learn, to own their learning. And I’ve been able to see how, with the role, that people want this education. People want to know how to engage with trans people in a way that’s friendly and respectful.

I think training and education provide opportunities to talk about scenarios that can happen, whether it’s around pronouns, around misgendering, or around how to intervene when we see something that is not OK.

And I’ve seen that through the role, and it’s been really impactful, just to see how people leave those spaces of training and feel that they are more confident in being an ally to trans communities.

[Text on screen: How did the pandemic change your approach to training?]

So the training has now become even more dynamic of working directly with an audience, so they’re not just sitting through a Zoom. So that’s one way we have to be innovative, is just really rolling with the new platform of online trainings.

But what has come out of that is now we have more capacity to train multiple different offices, because we don’t have to make a point of scheduling in-person as much, where there might be limitations. We can now do trainings from the comfort of our homes, our offices. It’s a new way to meet, a new way for people to get that training content. So that’s one of the innovations that came out from the pandemic.

But then what that also led to is us getting an awareness of the demand for our training content. We recognize now that there are so many offices and departments that want this knowledge, that I can’t offer by myself; we’re a very small team.

But what it led us to taking on as a team is we developed an online module. So anybody who is a City employee can log into their Employee Portal and get a good chunk of our training. We offer the Transgender 101, and what it does, it really gives a person who’s taking this module some of the basics of what they need to know when they’re working with trans people.

And now that this module has existed — its release was in November of 2021 — since then, we’ve trained close to 2000 employees. So just within that short amount of time, we have met the need and demand that we would have in a year with this role. So it’s really exciting that people are still logging in, getting this information, being onboarded to the City, and having to take this training.

So there’s been a lot of really great things that have come out of the circumstances that were out of our hands. But we’re hoping that it can really continue to just let people have this information.

[Text on screen: What goals do you have for OTI training in the future?]

Right now, the reality is that I’m one person sort of taking on the training portion. However, I want to get help as I can find it. And that doesn’t have to be just through the office; that’s the help of maybe collaboration with different departments and teams with the City and County.

So, we’ve started some of those conversations, which is really exciting. But I think there are ways to get this sort of information integrated with the museums of the City and County. Integrated with the San Francisco Public Library. Finding different ways where we can educate people in ways that are maybe even fun. That’s my goal and sort of intention with this role.

So as we move forward through the next few years or months, who knows what will happen. But I would love if there were ways to make the learning process more engaging. I know for me, I’ve learned some of the most impactful things about our trans community through the arts. So if I can offer any sort of my background in that to this role, I would love to see that happen.

[Text on screen: Thank you! Learn more:]

Music credit:

Wet Riffs by Kevin MacLeod

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San Francisco Office of Transgender Initiatives

OTI works with community and the City and County of San Francisco to advance equity for transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people.