Beyond he and she the rise of nonbinary pronouns

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Posted on March 27, by webmanager. While gender identity and gender expression can be related, they do not have to be. Gender expression, on the other hand, is how individuals express their gender through clothing, demeanor, etc. How one expresses their gender is not necessarily related to their gender identity. Gender expression may be a way individuals play with external gender performance and explore roles, while gender identity is an interior sense of self.

Individuals often conflate sexual identity and gender identity. For example, a person whose sex assigned at birth is male but whose gender identity is female, may express any of the full range of sexual identities including but not limited to: The Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Life has curated several gender non-conforming resources that might be useful to course instructors.

Issues related to non-conforming gender identities. Both students and leaders in the classroom may have limited prior interactions with individuals whose gender identity moves beyond the gender binary. Consequently, instructors and students may be unfamiliar with issues that arise for those who live as persons with non-conforming gender identities.

These issues include but are not limited to: Even those who already have a more extensive knowledge of issues related to gender inclusivity may not entirely understand the impact of gender identity and expression on gender non-conforming individuals.

Learning about non-conforming gender identities. Students may exhibit considerable variation in their commitment to learning about non-conforming gender identities. This discomfort may be rooted in fear, shame, disgust, frustration, confusion, etc. Respecting non-conforming gender identity requests. Both students and instructors may exhibit varying levels of prior experience engaging with topics related to gender identity and expression.

For those who lack experience, it may seem unclear how to ask others about their gender pronouns in a respectful manner or how to intervene when someone has been misgendered. As such, this poster is meant to serve as a guide, not a definitive list of gender pronouns. The Vanderbilt English Language Center has produced a supplement to this pronoun guide that may be of special interest to foreign-born students, faculty, and staff.

This discomfort may be a result of feelings of uncertainty about how to ask students about their gender identity. Uneasiness may also stem from uncertainty about how to maintain an atmosphere of mutual respect over the course of a semester. Professors must decide individually whether and how to collect this information. There are at least two considerations that may influence this decision:. There are a variety of approaches that can be adapted by instructors based on the discipline, class size, course topic, etc.

Doing so fosters a sense of mutual respect that is crucial in cultivating inclusive classrooms. Instead, consider including course materials that offer feedback from self-identified gender non-conforming scholars to flush out the multitude of perspectives on a given topic Abbott The latter approach reduces the burden placed on gender non-confirming students.

Conflict may arise when creating and trying to maintain a gender-inclusive classroom environment. In these moments, instructors and teaching assistants may feel uncertain about how to appropriately intervene, particularly when a student has been misgendered or when microaggressions occur.

One of the best ways to maintain a positive classroom environment is be proactive about establishing norms of mutual respect from the first class meeting. As a result, instructors may miss an important opportunity to cultivate a welcoming and gender-inclusive classroom atmosphere. More importantly, modeling such behavior may give students a better sense of how to conduct themselves and greater trust in the support in the learning community of the classroom.

For those who choose to communicate their expectations about communication, conflict and mutual respect, there are many ways this conversation might unfold. One possible approach is to begin the semester with a conversation about the importance of honoring one another by correctly pronouncing names and using requested pronouns. Another approach is to develop a document that outlines your expectations of mutual respect and present it to students during the first week of class.

Or, the document may be developed with students from the start, particularly in courses where complex and challenging issues may be discussed on a regular basis. This mutual respect document was developed in the Physics department at Ohio State University.

Beginning the course in this way provides an opening to talk about conflict before it arises. As part of this conversation, you might discuss how you will react when a student or you yourself misgenders a student. Some phrases might include:. Moreover, it may head off potential conflict by having students engage in these important conversations before a breakdown of understanding occurs.

When hot moments do arise, it is not advisable to avoid difficult or uncomfortable conversations. Remember, students will naturally look to you for cues about the importance of gender-inclusivity owing to your role as a leader in the classroom. Be mindful of the verbal and non-verbal messages you send. Incorporating gender non-conforming voices into course materials appropriately. Course instructors may decide to include authors with non-conforming gender identities into their syllabi with the intent to broaden the range of voices included in course materials.

In doing so, however, instructors must be careful to avoid doing so in a manner that homogenizes, exoticizes, or tokenizes gender non-conforming experiences.

Suggesting gender non-conforming authors represent the beliefs of all gender non-conforming individual. Students who are unfamiliar with gender identity issues, or have limited experiences interacting with gender non-conforming individuals, may be especially tempted to project the ideas of these authors onto all gender non-conforming people.

Allowing students to inappropriately probe into the lives of gender non-conforming individuals when first introduced to gender or sexual identity topics risks some exoticization of these individuals as Other or object, and therefore potential exploitation. Inappropriate remarks may center on salacious details or seek to gain some kind of entertainment or pleasure value from the experiences, identities, etc of gender non-conforming individuals. Students tend to pursue this line of questioning when the learning objective for a reading or assignment is not made explicit, or when the exploitative character of exoticization is not made clear.

Embracing one token voice or a narrow set of gender non-conforming voices into classroom readings. Instructors may unintentionally include a narrow set of gender non-conforming voices into their courses, which reinforce other forms of social power.

It is important to take care to include a diversity of gender non-conforming backgrounds. Consequently, students miss the opportunity to explore the ideological dimensions of gender and sexuality and how broader structures can disproportionately privilege some voices over others, even within gender non-conforming communities.

Instructors may avoid incorporating the stories of gender non-conforming individuals that disagree with one another in their syllabi because they fear confusing students. Focusing solely on the needs of the non-trans audience when constructing learning opportunities often results in an inattention to the needs of gender non-conforming individuals in these teaching moments Courvant , A more ideal approach is for instructors to incorporate gender non-conforming materials in multiple course topics and discuss the many questions that these materials provoke throughout a course Preston Including only a narrow range of gender non-conforming topics in your syllabus.

Instructors may be inclined to include gender non-conforming materials that exclusively focus on the negative experiences of marginalization that gender non-conforming individuals face in their everyday lives.

Abbott points to the importance of moving beyond depictions of transphobic violence and other bleak realities such as gang rape, domestic violence and murder when incorporating gender non-conforming experiences into course syllabi. Effectively drawing connections between gender non-conforming perspectives and broader course learning goals and objectives. In an effort to create more inclusive courses, instructors may elect to integrate authors with non-conforming gender identities into their course.

While integrating a wider array of voices is an important component of creating more gender-inclusive course content, doing so without giving full consideration to how these voices contribute to, and enhance, the course learning goals is often confusing for students.

Moreover, when the value of these additional voices is unclear, students may misdirect their attention and miss the learning potential. However, it is essential that instructors include these texts with a clear sense of how they relate to the broader course objectives and goals.

Moreover, it is imperative that instructors explicitly communicate these connections to students. Moreover, failing to account for how gender non-conforming voices enhance course learning goals may actually hinder efforts to cultivate a more gender-inclusive classroom. Integrating non-conforming gender topics into courses that are seemingly unrelated to gender. Instructors in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics STEM classrooms may believe that the content of the courses they lead are less amenable to acknowledging the fluidity of gender identity.

Given this assumption, instructors in these disciplines may fail to fully consider the range of ways that gender identity affects the learning environment in classroom spaces. For those who teach courses that are not explicitly related to themes of gender and identity, there are still opportunities to design gender-inclusive courses. For instance, one small non-content related modification would be to add an inclusivity statement that invites students to communicate their name and pronoun requests.

Another small modification would be to add a brief explanation of the importance of mutual respect in learning spaces, particularly with respect to gender identity and expression.

However, there also may be opportunities to address course content creatively in STEM courses, particularly in biological fields where gender can shape much of our analysis of the body and its treatment. Case, Stewart, and Tittsworth offer several recommendations for adapting STEM course content that considers gender non-conforming experiences. Focused on the bio-medical fields, they suggest that instructors dig more deeply into gendered assumptions that shape medical treatments for intersex individuals who seek corrective surgery.

Instructors might also discuss medical diagnoses that have emerged in light of intersex patients. Another recommendation is to incorporate a class debate about the impact of gender labeling on the development of criteria for diagnosis, drug development and medical treatment.

Lastly, the authors suggest that instructors might incorporate debates around the research on gender non-conforming brain structures, such as that of the the female limbic nucleus neuron counts for male-to-female transsexuals.

For some, the latter recommendation may seem problematic given the history of biological sexism and racism in the United States. However, attending to these differences in a respectful manner not only communicates respect for a variety of gender identities, but also has the added benefit of increasing the disciplinary accumulation of knowledge regarding issues of health and safety for all members of society. Brondani and Paterson offer additional applications in dental education.