Get My Pronouns Right
GET MY PRONOUNS RIGHT
I’ve been thinking about a million different ways I can write this piece. After some time I realized that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be said. Thank you, for all the work that you do that is misunderstood. I can’t imagine what it’s like to handle screaming students, angry parents, and e-refund check season.
ASSUME: making an ASS out of U and ME
Unfortunately, you continue assuming without checking yourself, to use my incorrect pronouns. You continue to misgender me. You continue to force me to out myself. Our institution boasts being dedicated to “social justice” and yet, I have been trying to wrap my brain around how this continues to happen. In the financial aid office, in admissions, in residence halls, in classrooms, and in various communications throughout my academic experience. I mean, c’mon. What is the purpose of using gender neutral restrooms, offering preferred name and pronoun choices on applications and in classroom introductions, and referring to this institution as a “historically” women’s college (to be more “inclusive”) when y’all continue to assume gender. What’s worse is that this college is co-educational at the graduate level and as a graduate student it is beyond my scope as to how we are still assuming that all students here are of feminine presentation and identity. Have you ever stepped outside of your office?
CHOICE is a Privilege
I have experience some of the most blatant cissexism (set of communication, acts, and norms that privilege cisgender people through enforcing the gender binary, gender essentialism, and oppression of gender-expansive folks) of my experience in higher education. I’m a first generation American and student of color from a lower class background. I’m a transgender man. Society reinforces at every turn that I shouldn’t even be here, but I am. I didn’t have many choices in my life and especially in higher education. Graduate school; graduate school was one of my first and few real choices in my life – one that wasn’t completely an ultimatum or out of desperation. I chose to go here. I chose this place because I thought you were different. I thought your staff, faculty, and students were of integrity, self-reflection, and conscious of the systems that disadvantage marginalized folks. You sell to the nation that you’re committed to social justice. That you’re one of the first women’s colleges in to openly accept and enroll trans* students, but you are relentless in making the students that go here hate you. That students have to paint in large, bold letters on the wall: “TRANS STUDENT GRADUATED FROM HERE”.
Checking Your Privilege: On How to be a College of the 21st Century
I grew up in spaces where I had to create and build a safe community for queer folks like me because no one else would and no one else wanted to. You know, I’ve worked in higher ed at an institution in the South and in some respect they somehow got it right. But here we supposedly are living in such a diverse demographical microcosm, San Francisco Bay, where there are people here and in the community that are actively working to make it better for trans*
Get My Pronouns Right
Why can’t you check your pride and ask for help? I am not saying you have to be perfect, but you have to at least try. Try to practice what you preach. Try to practice some basic human respect. No amount of funding or curriculum changes or staff/faculty changes or new deans and presidents will make a difference if your front line in communication to students, the face of your institution, is unwilling to do the necessary work. When I decided to go continue my education into academic and student services, I was once told that student affairs is a profession, especially in our current societal climate, where we get the privilege of making students feel like their lives matter. I shouldn’t have to write this. I shouldn’t have to out myself to make these issues matter because I would like to think that my black trans* life matters enough to my school.
My name is Grayson. My pronouns are he/him/his. All you had to do was ask.