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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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
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
“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
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
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
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
…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
Gender fatigue (n): A condition of exhaustion, occasioned by generally excessive or overwhelming experiences in which one’s gender is present as either an overt or an implicit focus of human activity.
“I’m sorry I backed away from you when you reached out your hand for a high five and said, ‘what’s up, bro?’ I was suffering from gender fatigue.”
Today I filled out a form so I could get my Denver Public Library card. The form asked for the … Read more
Here’s an op/ed about the notion of “passing” as it relates to transgender folks. The author, Aiden James Kosciesza, describes “passing” as follows:
The term “passing,” when applied to transgender people, means being perceived as cisgender while presenting as one’s authentic gender identity. There’s a lot of power in that. When people meet me and assume that I am a cisgender man, I am afforded the privilege of choosing whether I disclose my transgender identity, and when. Many trans* folks
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