‘Ask Me’: What LGBTQ Students Want Their Professors to Know

‘Ask Me’: What LGBTQ Students Want Their Professors to Know

September 19, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


[MUSIC] EDDIE: Every day you struggle
and think you might get attacked or might — something
might happen to you just for being who you are. NATE: Especially when
I’m nervous and worried about professors
misgendering me or using my legal name in the classroom. MORGAN: And it kind of
brought me to a place where I didn’t want
to speak up and I didn’t want to be open anymore. [MUSIC] SHAUN: It’s a big box to unpack. KAY: I identify as gender fluid. SHAUN: Queer or pansexual. NATE: A queer trans
man who is also Christian identified and white. ENGLISH: I identify as a
dom or masculine of center. SHAUN: A trans male. ENGLISH: Pronouns are she, her,
or kidd, which I made that up with two Ds. KAY: I’ve chosen masculine
for the time being, I’m trying it out. CHARLESE: Polypansexual
transsexual. ALICIA: Gender fluid. PRIN: I prefer
they/them/their pronouns. MATTHEW: I use
he/him/his pronouns. MORGAN: I am gender-fluid. PRIN: I identify as a
queer, gender-queer, or a nonbinary trans person. MORGAN: Her/her and hers,
they/them and theirs. ERICK: I’m
gender-queer, pansexual. MATTHEW: Pansexual, and
I’m also a trans man. MARTA: A lesbian. EDDIE: A gay man. PAT: And I’m a nonbinary
trans woman of color. QUINTEN: FTM, so I do identify
as male but I am transgendered, and I am also asexual, probably
a romantic on that scale. [MUSIC] ENGLISH: Preferred gender
pronouns are a big thing. PAT: We are constantly
worrying about being outed, in classrooms,
in counselors’ offices. MATTHEW: Our school
isn’t set up so that we have preferred names or
preferred pronouns on a roster that the professor gets. ENGLISH: So what do you
prefer to be called, or what if you’re
masculine-of-center-presenting, do you identify as
trans or lesbian? Do you have a preferred
gender pronoun? NATE: Getting your
legal name changed is really hard or
expensive to do, and it’s really
out of my budget. MATTHEW: If someone
who’s trans doesn’t email the professor
beforehand and say, “Hey, I know this is what, it’s
what it says on your roster, but actually I prefer this,”
and so, you’re essentially coming out every semester. SHAUN: Before I had
my legal name change, was that before all the
classes, I would end up emailing my professors
and being like, “Can you call me this name, can
you use these pronouns?” MATTHEW: And if you don’t
email them beforehand, you have a really awkward
situation on your hands when they call roll. EDDIE: Every day it’s scary to
just be in class, not knowing what people are going to say. NATE: When my
professors don’t notice that I have a preferred name
listed in the university registry, it can be very
anxiety-inducing to wonder, “Oh, what’s going to happen
on that first day of class when I’m outed? What are other
students going to say? What is the teacher
going to say?” QUITEN: People need to know that
if they sign up for certain gym classes that they will be
able to go into the space. It’s best for
them, and they need a system where people can get
preferred names on their ID cards and being able
to go into a class from the first day knowing
that your birth name will not be spoken. PRIN: My school does not
have a preferred-name policy, so a lot of times I feel
uncomfortable talking to teachers or other students
or even submitting assignments, because it’s not the name
that I identify with. SHAUN: And some of them
respected that and some of them didn’t, and the ones
who didn’t I immediately just totally checked
out of their classes and just sort of did the
bare minimum to pass. NATE: There have been classes
that I’ve skipped intentionally because I don’t feel safe going. MORGAN: There have been times
where I’ve offered, I guess, a sort of different
perspective on, you know, normal gender-role ideas
and that kind of thing, and it was kind of
met with big backlash. SHAUN: Advisers sort of
tried to make a safe space but at the same time I
don’t feel comfortable and supported to be myself
in those situations. So sometimes when we’re
dealing with sensitive issues, I have trouble. KAY: A teacher misgendering me
— “Oh, good morning, sir!” — or, you know, students
passing me — “‘Sup, man?” — things of that nature, before
I came out as gender-fluid, completely misgendered. But when I encompassed
the gender-fluid, it made it easier for me. MORGAN: I felt like I
kind of like recoiled and I couldn’t
thrive, I couldn’t be as successful in that
environment as I wanted to be. [MUSIC] PAT: There are instances
where I feel unsafe, mostly because
they’re unmonitored or it’s just not
very populated, and I feel that there is an
easy chance for me to be targeted as a trans person. MARTA: If it’s just a simple
thing about using the women’s bathroom. CHARLESE: One of our
students is a trans female, and she actually was escorted
out of one of our bathrooms by a security guard. MARTA: As soon as I walk
in there, I get stares. And it’s hard for me to stare
off those stares and, you know, counteract anything that
they say or that they do. PAT: So constantly
at school I am forced to think
about the necessities of my own well-being versus
thinking about my classroom and what I should be studying. QUINTEN: Anybody on the scale
of fluidity with their gender, they need to be able
to go into the bathroom that they’re most
comfortable with, and no one should be able
to be harassed or removed by security. NATE: I’ve lived in
all-women’s dorms, and being the only
guy in a women’s dorm is kind of awkward. ERICK: I’m fortunate enough to
be able to switch it on and off in a way that I can dress
the way I want in safe places and then dress how I
need to when I can’t. PAT: When I am trying
to concentrate in class but I’m trying to also map out
how I can get to the restroom while being safe. CHARLESE: There should be
family bathrooms for anyone to be able to use the bathroom. We’re just going to
the bathroom, you know? [MUSIC] EDDIE: There’s a
lot that needs to go into my campus, a lot
of more acceptance. PRIN: Housing has not
made much progress. I’ve created an entire proposal. QUINTEN: Always feel
uncomfortable in spaces where people start
mentioning how they date and they have sex, not because
they’re being, you know, prejudiced against
me, but because it’s something I don’t understand. PRIN: The person that I was
communicating with no longer works there, and they
haven’t filled the position, and they told me just to
basically wait until they could fill the position. ENGLISH: I wish HBCUs were more
open to supporting or having resources for LGBTQ folk. EDDIE: Being in the Bible Belt
is something that honestly affects me because I
am a religious person, but I also support gay
rights 100 percent. CHARLESE: During gender studies,
they try to get some of us, me included, that are a part
of the LGBTQIA community to sometimes even
speak out and try to teach the other students. I feel that this is wrong. Why should we ask
students to tell their personal experiences? QUINTEN: It’s just
ignorance, it’s a lack of information
flowing because they don’t have a resource center. ALICIA: You know,
once people leave, it’s like as if we
were never there. Once the advisers leave that
actually direct our community, it dies out. Like, nobody’s
there to pick it up and say OK, let me just
keep on going with this. [MUSIC] SHAUN: When we’re, when dialogue
is encouraged, for sure. MORGAN: I love
enthusiastic professors. CHARLESE: Whenever I’m at
a place and I feel safe, I feel at home, I feel like
I have no care in the world and I’m only there
just for my education. And that’s what the whole
purpose of going to college is for, right? KAY: Hands-on environment. 100 percent hands-on, it doesn’t
really matter who I’m with. QUINTEN: I love something that
you have to really investigate and think about. MORGAN: I love analytical
and critical thinking, so once we can open up the
floor, we can talk about it, everybody’s free to discuss,
and we bounce ideas off of each other. That’s a great
learning environment. ALICIA: He makes me feel
really comfortable about who I am as a person and
what I identify as. PAT: I definitely look forward
to classes that are inclusive right off the bat. So if a professor
goes out of their way to make sure to
establish a safe space, to establish an inclusive
space, I definitely will look forward to
coming back every day and learning what I have
to learn in that class. EDDIE: A safe environment. I know that’s
cheesy as it sounds, but it’s honestly
a safe environment is somewhere that I feel excited
to learn because I can actually put my whole effort
into learning. PRIN: An environment
where everybody’s just kind and loving
and accepting. ERICK: I mean, when you’re
just open and you’re like, “Yeah, we’ve got
this on the board, and we’re doing this today!”
like that brings out, that brings me out, that makes
me feel safe to be who I am. ENGLISH: One
particular moment he was like, “Well, you have to
wear a dress for speech day.” I don’t wear dresses, so we
had to compromise and meet in the medium, and I got to
wear a bow tie and slacks. And that’s where I
kind of got my big urge to speak out more vocally versus
standing in the background. MARTA: Let people
be who they are. Let people express how they
want to express themselves and most importantly do not
judge a book by its cover. NATE: I live on
campus, I’m actually living in the new
gender-inclusive learning community at Purdue. It’s very small right now, but
we’re hoping to make it bigger. But I’m really excited about it. It’s going to be pretty awesome. MATTHEW: An environment
where I feel supported and I feel like I can grow and
be nurtured and be validated in all aspects of my identity. NATE: Allowing us to
tell you who we are makes us feel safe as students. It makes us feel like we
can learn in your classroom. It makes us feel like
we can come to class. MORGAN: Have a peek inside of
the way the world works for us. And let them know that we
are a part, and, you know, we are not separate, we’re here. [MUSIC] My name’s Matt. English. Shaun. Kay. Prin. Alicia. Morgan. Erick. Nate. Marta. Quinten. Charlese. Eddie. Pat. MORGAN: Ask me. MATTHEW: Ask me. ERICK: Ask me. ENGLISH: Or ask me.