Healthy "U" September Newsletter
Gender Identity, Gender Identification, and Respect for Transgender People
by Peter Brehm, IT Services and Support Specialist and Dr. Lisa Algazi Marcus, Professor of French
Reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther King's quote, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice," America is gradually acknowledging transgender/gender-nonbinary community members and putting legal, procedural, and social structures in to place to affirm these members of our American family. This brief article is intended only to introduce some basic gender identity information and to be the first "brick" in a foundation of knowledge that Hood College will create on this and related topics for allies.
As with any type of change, vocabulary is important. Facebook lists 58 gender options, while New York City recognizes 31 gender identities. Understanding these myriad, sometimes nuanced definitions can be a challenge, and there appears to be no universally agreed upon set of terms for the transgender community. With this in mind, here is a start:
Unless the person with whom you are speaking clarifies their (stick with me on this pronoun) gender identity using some other terms, good starting terms are "transgender" and "gender nonbinary."
Transgender: Generally speaking, when one’s gender identity is different than the gender assigned at birth. Transgender community members encompass:
MTF/M2F: Generally speaking, when someone was assigned male gender at birth but identifies as feminine or a woman (pronouns used for this person are often she, her).
FTM/F2M: Generally speaking, when someone was assigned female gender at birth but identifies as masculine or a man (pronouns used for this person are often he, him).
The term "transgendered" is incorrect and irritating; no one is transgendered; they are transgender.
Generally speaking, when someone who was assigned a gender at birth doesn't identify on the male/female binary. Our earlier assumptions that gender identity can be neatly divided into men and women has been expanded to understand that many gender identities exist (hence the range of identities referenced by FaceBook and New York City).
In addition to he/him and she/her, desired pronouns may also include they, ze, hir, or use of name only. Examples:
Pat gave me money to buy a book I know they wanted (recall my asking you to stick with me on the use of this pronoun earlier).
* Pat gave me money to buy a book I knew ze wanted.
Pat gave me money to buy a book I knew Pat wanted.
* When Pat came back home, I gave them the book.
When Pat came back home, I gave hir the book.
When Pat came back home, I gave Pat the book.
So, how does one signal respect to transgender friends, neighbors, colleagues, and others at home, school, work, and in the marketplace? It is both simple and challenging.
Simple: When you meet people, tell them your preferred name and pronouns. In turn, ask them for their preferred name and pronouns. And then use them consistently.
Challenging creeps in:
Because if we share/ask for information like pronouns that traditionally have not been exchanged when meeting people, people who are not sensitive to why we are introducing ourselves in this manner may be critical or mocking;
If someone has a legal name of John, and this person introduces herself as Joanne and uses the pronouns she/her, we must be focused and intentional and use Joanne and she/her when talking to and about Joanne;
If someone appears to be or sounds male to us based on our definitions of gender norms, and the person is introducing herself with a female name and wants us to use she/her pronouns, we must be focused and intentional and respect the use of their preferred name and pronouns when talking to and about this person.
Is this important? Yes, for at least three reasons:
Misgendering someone is a signal of disrespect;
Misgendering someone is exhausting and demoralizing to the person being misgendered;
Misgendering someone can cause them harm: misgendering a transgender person could potentially "out" them and make them a target of violence, discrimination, bullying, and more.
Importantly, there is a fourth reason. Recalling the adage "what you did was so loud I could not hear what you said" (translated: our actions speak louder than our words), we need to demonstrate to faculty, staff, students, alums, vendors, visitors, and others that we are a welcoming campus community by (among other actions) verifying and then honoring a person's preferred name and pronouns.
New Dental Clinic
Frederick Regional Health System, with the University of Maryland's School of Dentistry, has created the Monocacy Health Partners Dental Clinic on Trail Avenue, across from the hospital. It is to provide dental care for uninsured and underinsured Frederick residents over the age of 18. Currently, it provides emergency and medically-necessary dental care only and future plans are to expand the program to include preventative care. Fees are on a sliding scale.
Attention Faculty and Staff:
If you are interested in being a part of a group that will meet monthly to explore contemplative and meditation practices for personal and professional growth, please contact Beth O'Malley.
Mindfulness Mediation and Relaxation
Mindfulness Meditation and Relaxation is held Monday and Thursday afternoons 12:30-1:00 pm in the Meditation and Prayer Room, Chapel basement. A special faculty/staff session wil be held weekly with a day/time TBA.
Weekly Chapel Services
All are welcome! Wednesdays 12:30-12:55 pm.
Free yoga classes, generously provided by Sol Yoga, resume this Wednesday, September 14 and continue through December 7 except for November 23. Class is held Wednesdays, 5:15-6:15 pm in the Dance Studio Gambrill Gymnasium. Uncover, discover, tap into your power and just be. Yoga is what you make it. It can be your hour of peace in a hectic week, a workout, therapy for an ailing joint, or it can transform your life if you let it. The excellent, trained teachers of Sol Yoga will support you on your journey, whatever it may be. Make the commitment. The continuation of yoga sessions is contingent upon your ongoing interest and participation.