trans issues

Respecting trans students whose IDs misgender them

cronbach:

realsocialskills:

It’s TA season and I’m thinking about something that happened last year. I was invigilating an exam, and there was a trans student who hadn’t had her student ID changed yet. I was required to check her ID, and she seemed terrified (I could pick up on it, so pretty obvious). I gave my stock script (smile and, “That’s perfect, thanks!”) and moved on. Was that OK? Also, is there something I can do to send an “I’m not gonna out you, don’t worry” message to students in that situation?
realsocialskills said:
 
I don’t know, and I’m hoping someone who reads this will. My sense is that probably using the stock script you’d use with anyone else’s ID is better than saying something explicitly. (Particularly since it seems like it would have been hard to say something without other students waiting to show ID overhearing, and you can’t reassure someone that you won’t out her by outing her to everyone within earshot.)
 
I think the best way to show someone that you can be trusted not to hurt them is to just make it clear in a matter-of-fact way that you’re not going to do anything with their ID but check them off a list like you would any other student.
 
But I’m not trans, and I think this question would probably be best answered by people who are.
  
Trans readers: what would you like TAs to do in this situation?

cronbach said:

With a one-off interaction like that, this was about the best you could do. Not drawing attention to her among the other students should be the goal, so the stock script is perfect.

For a longer interaction, like if you end up TAing a lab or course with a trans student (or anyone else to whom this sort of advice would also apply)… make sure you use their name like you would anyone else’s. Don’t draw undue attention by saying their name every sentence, if you don’t do that for everyone, but practice their name in private or whatever if you need to so you can be sure you won’t slip up and use the wrong one by accident.

Same thing with pronouns. Don’t misgender them. Be prepared to correct yourself right away and just move on if you somehow get it wrong — like if you accidentally misgendered a cis student because your brain had a short circuit, right?

Also, depending on what subject you’re in, you may need to change the way you say or teach a few things, or some lab activities. Like… I’m in a lab this year where there may be an activity where we take cheek swabs and do DNA things with them. I’m afraid that one of these things will involve karyotypes or sex chromosomes. I may end up getting outed, or having to out myself to the instructors, because of this. Are there things you teach which could affect someone who’s trans, or intersex, or anything like that?

Do you refer to students as “men and women” or “ladies and gentlemen” or any other binary-reinforcing or categorizing set o words? If so, you might want to consider not doing that. Likewise if you refer to everyone as “mister whatever” and “miss/ms whatsis.”

Just some thoughts from a trans guy on the binary.

I don’t think you should be encouraging ALL college kids ALL the time to email their professors to come out trans before class even starts. In order to keep their job, there’s pretty much no way a professor can’t say they’ll accommodate the request. But that doesn’t mean they won’t forget, “forget”, be hostile, grade harshly, or otherwise attempt to make the student’s life miserable in ways that the student can’t produce enough proof to complain about. Also, who says all profs are discreet?
realsocialskills said:
I agree with you. Emailing professors ahead of time is not a good strategy for every trans student. Some people do not want to be out to their professors, and they have ever right not to be. It’s a strategy for some people in some situations, not something universally applicable to all trans people.
But for some people, it’s a potentially useful strategy. For instance:
  • If you’re a woman and people know that you are a woman
  • But most people don’t know that you are trans and you’d like to keep it that way
  • And your legal name is something like Bruce.
  • At most schools, your teacher will get a list of students by legal names
  • So they’ll inevitably find out that the government thinks your name is Bruce
  • And, if they take roll, it’s likely that they’ll call you that name in front of everyone
  • This strategy is a way to discretely let the professor know that your name isn’t Bruce and you don’t want to be called Bruce in front of everyone

Or even if you’re just tired of hearing “But why do you go by Alex instead of Molly? Molly is a beautiful name!”. If people don’t know your legal name, they’re much, much less likely to try to call you by it or pester you about it.

It’s not a good strategy for everyone, but I can how it could be helpful for some people, and others in the reblog chain have said it worked for them.

youneedacat:

poisonskin:

Template for Preferred Name/Pronouns Letter to Teachers:

thespookyprofessor:

Dear Professor [name],

My name is [Preferred name], and I will be attending your course [blank] on [days] at [time] this [term]. I am transgender and have not yet legally changed my name. On your roster is my legal name, [Legal name]. I would greatly appreciate it if you…

poisonskin said:

Yeah! I’ve used it all of last year and it went over really well. Everyone said they’ll do it and nearly all of them kept up on their word, and the ones who misgendered me still did so out of negligence to remember rather than spite. But they all used the correct name at least ^_^;

The year before that I went up to the professors in person and told them and it went off well I guess but by that point they already had my given name and pronouns in their heads so it was a bit more difficult for them to adjust, but it wasn’t anything /too/ bad. Id say if you have the option to, then use the email approach ahead of time so they have time to adjust.

youneedacat said:

How well does this work when your preferred pronouns aren’t he, she, or they?

realsocialskills said:

I don’t know. Do any of y'all?

Template for Preferred Name/Pronouns Letter to Teachers:

cardromancer:

realsocialskills:

thespookyprofessor:

Dear Professor [name],

My name is [Preferred name], and I will be attending your course [blank] on [days] at [time] this [term]. I am transgender and have not yet legally changed my name. On your roster is my legal name, [Legal name]. I would greatly appreciate it if you refer to me as [Preferred name] and use [pronouns] when referring to me. Thank you for your understanding, and I look forward to starting your course next week.

Sincerely,

~[Preferred name]

realsocialskills said:

Have any of y’all used something like this successfully?

cardromancer said:

My university has a system through counseling services where anyone can have their preferred name told to professors for them. I forgot to utilize this before my semester started (today) so I emailed something like this to all of my professors on Saturday night. Two of them have gotten back to me saying that it’s totally fine. So I would say yes!

poisonskin:

Template for Preferred Name/Pronouns Letter to Teachers:

thespookyprofessor:

Dear Professor [name],

My name is [Preferred name], and I will be attending your course [blank] on [days] at [time] this [term]. I am transgender and have not yet legally changed my name. On your roster is my legal name, [Legal name]. I would greatly appreciate it if you…

poisonskin said:

Yeah! I’ve used it all of last year and it went over really well. Everyone said they’ll do it and nearly all of them kept up on their word, and the ones who misgendered me still did so out of negligence to remember rather than spite. But they all used the correct name at least ^_^;

The year before that I went up to the professors in person and told them and it went off well I guess but by that point they already had my given name and pronouns in their heads so it was a bit more difficult for them to adjust, but it wasn’t anything /too/ bad. Id say if you have the option to, then use the email approach ahead of time so they have time to adjust.