How I deal with pronouns in my classes

This post is in response to a recent New York Times article by Elizabeth Reis. The article, “pronoun privilege,” argues against having people say their name and pronouns when they introduce themselves in class. Reis writes:

I find the exercise discomfiting, but not because I don’t want to know the students’ pronouns. It’s because this ice-breaking ritual, in my experience, is easy only for those for whom the answer is obvious. It can “out” or isolate others, particularly

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What do to if you use the wrong pronouns for me

Update, 8/10/16: I’ve received a few requests to use this blog post in workplace trainings or classrooms. I’m delighted that people are finding my writing useful, and I’d be thrilled if people circulated it to others who might find it helpful. I’ve converted this post into Word documents–one that retains all the original content, and one with the content reshaped and the curse words removed, for people who work or teach in contexts where swearing is inappropriate. Two Read more

How to make like an ally: The “standing up against transphobic bathroom bills” edition

I want you to understand how terrible public restrooms are for me.

For almost my entire life, I exclusively used women’s restrooms. Within the last few years, as my appearance has become more masculine, I’ve had multiple uncomfortable encounters. I’ve experienced this a few dozen times: A woman walking in while I was at the sink, stopping in her tracks and staring at me, and backing slowly out of the bathroom to look at the sign and make sure she … Read more

AERA screws up (again) on gender inclusivity

“In addition to using gender demographics for membership and research purposes, the expanded and enhanced gender categories send a message of inclusion to individuals of all gender identities within the Association,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine.

Let’s look at what AERA, the American Educational Research Association, thinks will send a message of inclusion to individuals of all gender identities within the Association. Now when you become a member of AERA or renew your membership, you’ll be met with … Read more

A quick primer on queer theory and the heterosexual matrix

Let’s talk about the fiction of the gender binary.

This fiction is pretty simple: There’s a story our culture tells us about identity. This story convinces us that gender is an either/or proposition. Your options in the drop-down gender box are to mark 1 for male, 0 for female. There are no other options. There is nothing in between. There is nothing off to one side. There isn’t even an “other” or “not applicable” box to mark.

The fiction of … Read more

All education is civics education: A meditation on electoral politics

I teach college.

That’s a thing I do, and it’s also the biggest and most important piece of my professional identity. Because I was a PhD student, and then a PhD candidate, and then a person with a PhD, I am very aware that my first identity is supposed to focus on my scholarship, and my second or possibly my third is supposed to be about my teaching.

Eff that. Teaching is the most important thing I do. It’s also … Read more

It’s time for the Learning Sciences to embrace queer & trans* theory.

IDK if you knew that I have a PhD in Education. More specifically, my PhD came from a Learning Sciences program, so I’m technically a learning scientist.

I have a very complicated and fraught relationship with the Learning Sciences–a field that has been extraordinarily slow to integrate the concerns of queer and trans* folk, and even slower to integrate queer and trans* theory–frameworks designed explicitly to account for and investigate queer and trans* concerns, experiences, and lives. Imagine being … Read more

Announcement: I’m going to delete hate speech

It’s incredible to me that I even have to say this, but: If you post a comment to my blog that contains hate speech, I’m going to delete that comment immediately. Wikipedia describes “hate speech” as follows:

In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual

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Kayden Clarke shot and killed by police

Here’s an article about a trans man, Kayden Clarke, who was shot and killed by police officers. I want to show you something interesting: The disconnect in how the information in this article refers to Clarke. The video and photo captions attached to the video refer to him as a woman and use his legal name. Several people quoted in the article itself–including his mother–do the same. Yet the reporter, Christopher Brennan, repeatedly and firmly refuses to go along with … Read more

Today a physician asked me which name I prefer…

…because on the intake form I had crossed off my legal name, Jenna, and written “Jacob” instead. And when the doctor checked in to confirm which name I preferred, I was moved almost to tears. That’s how low the bar is for us trans* folk–we can’t even expect our doctors to honor our names.

I was there because of shoulder pain, and the doctor looked at my shoulder and never asked me to explain my gender identity and I was … Read more