02 October 2009

I'm Coming Out More

In my previous post, "I'm (Mostly Not) Coming Out", I talked about my exception to not coming out as a trans woman at university this semester.  Since then I've talked to my professor and added another exception.  So, here's a follow-up on my meeting with my professor and what the new exception is.

As a quick refresher, I'm taking a Women's Studies course entitled "Gender & Technology" which covers transsexuality as a "technology of the body".  I was concerned given feminism's problems with transphobia, problems with other students when this was covered in the Intro course I took, and the presence of Bernice Hausman, former head of Women's Studies and still an affiliate professor of the programme.  So I decided to talk to my professor about this and to consider coming out to the class when we cover transsexuality based on how that talk went.

I was nervous about meeting with my professor, but also somewhat hopeful given a statement on the syllabus about confidentiality and having an open and trusting classroom environment.  My meeting opened with my professor saying that she was primarily concerned about my comfort in the course and that she would under no circumstances out me.  Things only got better from there.  At the end of a lengthy, pleasant conversation, I left with the slides she'd prepared for the transsexuality lecture so that I could make corrections, additions, and subtractions as needed and with the agreement that we will meet again in a couple weeks to further discuss the slides and how we're going to teach the material.  Yes, I'm co-teaching the session on transsexuality.  I believe this is called a win.  Except now I need to find non-pathologising material to introduce undergraduates to transsexual technologies, preferably written by trans people.  I would be extremely grateful for leads and suggestions from any of you.

Buoyed by my success with my professor, I decided that I would participate in the monologues performance that we're having at the university as part of National Coming Out Day.  I realised that "I'm (Mostly Not) Coming Out" was a good basis for a monologue.  I've replaced the section on making an exception for my "Gender & Technology" course with a section talking about how being known as trans can be a bad thing.  I'm still working on it, but hope to finish it before it's time to perform it.  And, while it was an option to have a volunteer perform it for me, I decided I'd prefer to personally perform it.  Which makes it an ironic performance and thus appealing to my sense of humour.  Talking about not coming out on National Coming Out Day?  And, outing myself as trans by doing so?  How could I resist?

So, I'll be coming out more than I thought.  How much depends on attendance at the performance and how much attendees talk afterwards to others, I suppose.  I might be fooling myself in believing that I can be strategically out.  I'm not sure.  I do know that I think that educating cis people about trans people is important enough to do this anyway.  I'm relatively privileged and in a much safer place that many other trans people, and if I can't leverage that privilege and safety to help those who are more vulnerable, then why have them?  Yes, there's the risk of being de/misgendered by some people.  But I think it's a minor one, especially compared to the need.  Only time will tell if I'm making the right decisions and if I actually accomplish anything.


  1. Good luck with your monologue! And with the classes you'll be co-teaching! That's exciting!

  2. I believe that is called a win

    Sure is.


  3. Came here from Brynn Craffey's very disappointing post on Polanski; just wanted to register my thanks for fighting the good fight.

    - d

  4. I'm delighted to hear that things went so well with your professor. She sounds committed to making the class an environment that is respectful of people's identities.