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Museum of Transology

February 24, 2017 in Gender, Inclusive Teaching & Learning in HE

Museum of Transology is a celebration of todays dynamic trans communities which, it feels to me, are becoming more and more brave, proud and organised.  The exhibition is curated as a modern cabinet of curiosities  full of  very eclectic artifacts carefully labeled. I felt the majority of the objects signify their struggle, although there were exhibit together with objects that inform (books, films, . . .), and objects that celebrate their achievements as individuals and as community. The show encourages everybody, both the contributors and the audience, to (re)think what gender means.

I didn’t have much time to look at all the objects and read all the levels, but I did recognised some people I know who have contributed to the collection:

Music by The Spook School (band from Glasgow, whose main singer Nye is a trans-man) I’ve meet Nye several times. We both are in indie bands and our bands have played a couple of gigs together. He started the band singing with a girl voice but his pitch lowered dramatically on their second album due to testosterone treatment. During that time and ever since, all the interviews with Nye end up talking about the gender issue. . . Also his lyrics are mainly about what his own personal experiences and people miscompceptions about trans people. He even did a series of recordings in youtube documenting the changes on his voice when he started to take testosterone YouTube Preview Image

Book “Trans: A Memoir” by Juliet Jacques  (autobiografical portray of journalist/blogger Juliet Jacques)img_3099 Juliet is my friend Helen’s flatmate and I have met her socially several times. She loves to talk about music, football and politics, but we have never talked about her experiences as a trans-women. . . but why should we! Anyway, I feel really bad I haven’t found the time to read her book yet, people tells me it’s very good. Also, I understand it’s vey important inform ourselves about gender by read stuff written by the trans community but I think I haven’t been able to make myself to read her book because I have meet her acquaintance and the idea of reading about her life experiences feels a bit voyeristic and even intrusive. I think if the book had been writen by someone else it would be a different matter.

Writing this post this is making me realised that I maybe need to ditch that feeling of “intrusiveness” and try to read more about the transgender community and perhaps achieve a better understanding.  This will also help me to acquire their ever-expanding vocabulary ( which in all honesty I’m struggling to keep up with, so many words and definitions!). A vocabulary which I might be useful to use in a future situations when dealing with a trans person in my workshop.

 

Inclusive Teaching & Learning Unit: Gender – Part 3

February 15, 2017 in Inclusive Teaching & Learning

‘Boy you’re just a stupid bitch and girl you’re just a no-good dick’

(Words from ‘Black Tongue’ by Karen O of the New York pop rock band YeahYeahYeahs)

These words make me laugh as they play on a twist of making gender assumptions in language and treating one gender identity as a derogatory term to call what is actually the opposite in gender.

This leads me in to my reflection of the Museum of Transology exhibition which was a positively defining experience for me. My visit reconfirmed what I believe to be a strong method of inclusive learning – understanding and increasing knowledge through an exhibition of objects, people and experiences (and I also think I’m a museum-loving geek).

The exhibition was curated incredibly carefully, as I felt it invited you in to see stories of importance to all, whether as a visitor, you know much about transgender communities, are curious in yourself or have family members or friends with gender fluid identities.

The exhibition highlighted the situations where gender is questioned unnecessarily from the small social acceptances amongst friends through to security procedures at airports. It also explained the peripherals in a person’s life that can be key to developing their gender confidence, such as a person’s wealth in order to afford hormones or high quality fake breasts, ‘packing’ and binding. A survey mentioned in the exhibition text also revealed that many transgenders go through years of homelessness as a result of being unaccepted as their true selves by families and support networks. This is not a phase, this is a person’s lifelines, shattering.

These stories of struggle, acceptance, loss of time, love, family, mental health, confidence really resonated with me in the set up of this exhibition, whilst walking amongst the broken closets. I wanted to reach up to read every story written on labels, even those that I couldn’t access which were inside cabinets mounted higher on the walls, and those suspended high above, amongst the gender gradation of undergarments. But actually, in not being able to read all of them, illustrated a concept perfectly that maybe stories can be there, dangling right in front of your face, but it may not be the time to read them. We may need to work carefully to find out how to read them and understand these stories.

Alongside the films the exhibition made me internally ask questions to myself about how I would approach teaching from a pastoral perspective to students going through any gender confidence issues. I felt an overwhelming amount of empathy mixed with positivity and sadness. How could I address and implement appropriate support and inclusive learning to make a student who is in a crisis, confusion, suppression or a determination phase of expressing their gender identity? This exhibition gave me some wonderfully simple, yet grounding insights into how I could be a positive support anchor in a student’s status or journey of gender confidence.

Gender Diversity at UAL website

February 7, 2017 in Gender, Inclusive Teaching & Learning in HE

Supporting Trans Students

How could you apply the resources to your own teaching practice?
Looking through the site is helping me to understand some of the most common issues that are troubling Trans students. Indeed this is will help me to understand what the person might be going through next time I have to deal with an upset Trans student. . . we do get lots of upset and stressed students, mainly for issuses regarding datelines and school work, but next time I need to offer support to a Trans student,  I’ll put in practice the site info and tips.

How could you integrate the research/work your students do on this subject into your teaching/professional practice?
The Student union website is full on information that can help me to make sure I make Trans people feel welcome in our workshop. Thinks like “what not to say/ask” is just brilliant because sometime curiosity can make the worst of us. Also the statement “don’t make assumptions, just ask them” is very encouraging.

Can you cite examples?
Often, while dealing with the students, I try to be as friendly as possible using chit-chat that will make the student feel more relax and welcome. If that chit chat turns into a more personal level, the site is been great to make sure I don’t ask the wrong questions or say the wrong think.

Also, if I’m not sure how to address a student I could ask directly “Soooo, I like people to refer to me as she/her, what about you?”

 


update 7 .02. 2017

The site also gives direct advice to the staff: Be aware of the power dynamic that exists between students and staff

As educators we must show respect in our professional role and avoid discrimitation, but we also need to make sure all students treat each other with respect.

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