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Thread: Teachers and Educators?

  1. #1
    When in doubt? Smile! Chrissi's Avatar
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    Teachers and Educators?

    Curious, how many teachers and educators we may have here? Personally, I am an out trans public high school teacher in Massachusetts. This is for folks who work with children and young adults as professional primary, elementary or secondary educators, support staff, administrators, coaches, instructors...etc.

    While this forum is perhaps not ideal for sharing this information, I do belong to several trans related educator groups that are private and have active memberships. What I found most distressing, while going through my own in-place transition at school, was that resources were essentially non-existent. I was able to connect with only a couple of trans women educators, however, all went stealth and changed not only school systems, but in many cases regions of the country, as well. Transition at work is high stress and difficult for most all. But there are road maps and many instances of successful transitions. Teachers though, remained an enigma as information about it, just plain either didn't exist, or was impossible to find. :-(

    Questions like:
    -who do you reach out to first?
    -do it suddenly or slowly?
    -same school or change schools
    -who are your natural allies
    -who do you need to be most concerned about (hint: usually parents)
    -what resources are available
    -what organizations can you reach out to
    -what are the laws in your state
    -what are your district's policies on LGBT, specifically gender identity and expression
    -I am afraid of being outed...or...
    -I transitioned, now what?
    -Am I now the de-facto staff trainer for all things LGBTQ inclusion at my school (district)?
    -what sort of gender inclusive curriculum is available to me for my students
    -how can I (or should I) include trans dialogue in my classroom

    If this thread grows here with interest, we can explore these issues and more that I am sure I have missed. If you would rather keep it private, reach out to me by PM. I will be happy to share information that I have accumulated over the years.

    If this thread perhaps belongs in another forum, I invite it to be moved, but I feel it is best served here with all gender trans people however they identify or express.

    stay safe, Christine Z
    Last edited by Chrissi; 05-11-2020 at 03:41 PM.
    Living my happiness and facing my problems as ME...no more filter... is...so...much...everything...better!

  2. #2
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    Moderation Note

    This is a Specifc Posting Request, please do not respond in this thread if you are not qualified to answer the Opening Post, appropriate moderation will take place if any member ignores this post.

    Please feel free to respond by PM to Chrissi if you do not fit the specific posting request
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  3. #3
    When in doubt? Smile! Chrissi's Avatar
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    Thank you Nigella,

    I might add that the focus is on trans teachers. No matter their gender identity and/or expression, and no matter how far along they may be in their transition.

    I am not really looking for those who volunteer, or in passing only occasionally or indirectly work with young people. You certainly may be interested in this posting and the information. I will gladly offer PM advise, but these are not the experiences or concerns I am directing here. Your work is very important, I am not trying to diminish that, however, you can walk away from it without repercussions.

    This thread is for full time professional teachers and educators whose livelihoods and chosen profession are working with and educating young people and young adults. Please note that the groups I work with vet your credentials prior to any admittance. This is a serious question and a serious issue. Please respect that.

    Thank you, I hope to hear from some of you.
    Christine
    Last edited by Chrissi; 05-11-2020 at 03:49 PM.
    Living my happiness and facing my problems as ME...no more filter... is...so...much...everything...better!

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Jeri Ann's Avatar
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    Hey Chrissi,

    I see no reason to move this thread. It is about transitioning after all.

    My guess is that there are members here who might identify as trans but have not transitioned because of their profession. Maybe they will connect with you via pm.

    I have known all my life that I was transgender (transsexual). As you know, I am a retired teacher and administrator with 34 years experience. There is no way in hell that I could have transitioned in the area that I lived and worked in. There is no precedence, policy or protections that would allow that. I transitioned after I retired and still had to leave the area because it was dangerous for me to stay.

    Not long ago a trans woman got on the substitute teacher list in a nearby school district. She was called in to sub, relieved of her classroom duties before the first class period was over and given clerical work. She was sent home before noon. If she had turned on the noon news she would have seen a report about a transgender person trying to get into a school. Unfortunately I think that it is that way in most of the state of Texas.

    That being said, recently I did have my university records updated with my legal name. I now have new diplomas too. I have also updated my records with the Texas Education Agency. My service record is now in my legal name and so are all of my certifications.

    I now live in the Houston area. Houston is the most diverse city in the country. Things are changing here but the educational system not so much. Houston Independent School District is the largest in the state with about 214,000 students. Even so, I do not know of any teachers who have transitioned. But, there are dozens of school districts in the Houston metropolitan area. I know personally a young person who got a job teaching high school English last fall who identifies as gender nonconforming (them, they their's). They were upfront in the job interview about their identity. They got hired and the school even designated a restroom as gender nonconforming for them.

    Recently they confided in me that they are maybe transsexual and not gender nonconforming. It looks like they might be a trans man in the future. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

    Ruthie's experience gives me hope. It was, in part, because of her positive experience that I updated all my records. I am contemplating going back into education, not as an administrator but in the classroom. Maybe there is a school in this area that will hire me.

    I assume that you are affiliated with TEN? Trans Educators Network?

  5. #5
    Little Mrs. Snarky! Nadine Spirit's Avatar
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    First off, sorry for the stupid length of my post! I guess I got excited about the topic!

    Howdy. I am a middle school teacher in Central California. Yes I know, most people think of California as the land of acceptance and hippy love. But I encourage you to Google a red/blue political map of California. The coast is blue but the interior is deep red. I think actually a backlash against the liberalness of the coast happens and the interior, especially the Central Valley, is extremely conservative. As in it is well known that we have several sects of the KKK within the Valley.

    Anywho..... a brief overview of my transition and employment. I've worked for 24 years as a middle school math teacher. 12 years ago I got hired at my current position. At that time I appeared as male as any other AMAB. At that time I had no intention of transition, I considered myself as a CD. Slowly over the years I began showing a bit more of my gender variance through things bleeding across the gender lines. I began appearing more non-binary or mixed in my gender presentation. My nails were painted, I began wearing fem clothes, I wore fem jewelry, a few of my clothing items switched to female ones. I was not transitioning as far as I knew, I was just wearing what I wanted. The school was fine with everything, though this was all after I attained ten-year and some sort of security that they could not simply non-reelect me. (In CA the first few years of teaching one is probationary and can be "fired" simply by choosing to not renew their year to year contract, no reason needs to be given as they don't actually fire you they just don't sign you to another year long contract.)

    Okay so..... blah, blah, blah!!! In 2017 I changed my hormones, with no intention of transition. My district chose to not pay for my Estrogen, as they put it I had an M on my license and they could legally deny paying for any of my care. In CA our state law says that all employers must pay for all TG health care. However, my employer is in a unique position in that they offer a form of private insurance and as such we are not governed under CA law. It is federal law. Which is how I found out about ERISA. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. It is a federal law that basically what I have is a sexual disorder akin to erectile dysfunction, and as such they legally DO NOT have to pay for ANY of my health care.

    Good times!!!

    I fought them over their decision. I went to the EEOC, mediated with my employer, and discovered and was told by EEOC that what my employer is doing is totally legal and thus NOT discriminatory. This entire episode pissed me off so much. My employer said, 'hey if you legally change your gender we'll at least pay for your estrogen, but you don't actually have to transition or change your name if you don't want to.' It really appalled me. I then began to pursue transition in earnest. I legally changed my gender, and my name, and came back the next school year as myself, without giving them a damn bit of warning.

    What happened? Nothing. Which was great! The students totally accepted me, and actually were so happy in my classes that their parents were all totally cool as well. Who has been the worst? The staff! They misgendered me so often I began taking written records of it. I only went to the admin over a few people, and shortly they began trying much harder. Now it is down to being misgendered only once or twice every few days. Under CA law I could have them cited for their errors, however I am choosing to be patient. I mean it has only been two year rights? Yes that was supposed to be sarcasm.

    It is due to the frequent misgendering that I often ponder how much easier it may have been to transition and then move school districts as most people do. However, I LOVE my community. Why? They accepted me. Not only that, but they seem to actually like me more now. Truth be told, I was an ass in the past and I am often ashamed at how I behaved prior to my transition. Which is partly why I like my community..... they understand that I am a better person this way.

    Which is also why I am happy that I stayed at my current position, yes I am educating the young ones, but I am also educating the old ones too. I have had many old timers from the area come to me and explain how I have completely changed their opinions on what it means to be transgender. So yeah, I love my job as an educator, and especially as a trans educator so that I can educate all of those around me.

    What else???? Oohhh...... I am only the second transgender employee that my school district has knowingly employed. The other person was in administration in the district office. I am the first teacher who has transitioned on the job. I am continuing the fight about my insurance. Currently I am my school union rep and am trying to work within the union to negotiate into our contract transgender health care. Eventually I will move high enough up within the union to begin some real muck-raking changes.


    Let's see about your questions.......

    -who do you reach out to first? My order was 1 - principal of my school, 2 - human resources superintendent, 3 - health committee, 4 - people I cared about enough to tell personally before they heard it through the rumor mill

    -do it suddenly or slowly? If anyone cared to look I actually did it slowly. But most people dismissed everything prior to my actual transition, so I suppose in that way I did it slow.

    -same school or change schools? I stayed at the same shcool

    -who are your natural allies? I had none naturally. I was considered with much suspicion until I proved myself.

    -who do you need to be most concerned about (hint: usually parents) I was first concerned with the students. Once I won them over, the parents went along with smiles!

    -what resources are available? Very few, none that I found besides my own support system of friends, family, and my therapist

    -what organizations can you reach out to? I found none. I actually reached out to a local teacher in a nearby district. She scared the crap out of me by giving me nothing but a collection of horror stories of how awful her transition had been. Thus it was that the night before going into to work as me for the first time ever that I was crying uncontrollably with fear over what some of TG woman told me. That was one of the worst things ever. She had nothing but good intentions, but it was the absolute wrong things to say to me 12 hours before I was to see my students for the first time. It truly sucked.

    -what are the laws in your state? Very protective which is the ONLY reason I still have my job.

    -what are your district's policies on LGBT, specifically gender identity and expression? They follow the letter of the state law, but will get away with whatever they can get away with. They do not have to deny my health care, they choose to because they can.

    -I am afraid of being outed...or...? I have an enormous amount of info on the internet about me and my TG life. I blog, I write here, I am on FB, on Inta, etc. I chose to own my online image and presence for the sole reason of being able to own it. Nobody can terrify me with any hidden info as long as I own it first, so I own it all. Actually I think that this place and my Insta are the only places I no longer use my actual legal name online.

    -I transitioned, now what? Now I get to LOVE my job!

    -Am I now the de-facto staff trainer for all things LGBTQ inclusion at my school (district)? Nope. Nobody has asked me to do that in anyway.

    -what sort of gender inclusive curriculum is available to me for my students? Uhhhh.... none that I know of!

    -how can I (or should I) include trans dialogue in my classroom? Okay so this one is a pain in the butt. I actually have to be super careful now in not "promoting a transgender agenda," which I have had to have questions about. My job is to teach math, not gender diversity. So I do it between the lines. By supporting my LGBT+ students against bullying and harassment of any sort. The other weird thing is that some of my trans students have been undermined by me being there in that some parents incorrectly attribute their children to coming out as trans because of my presence. That super sucks! So I have to try and be very careful and political in my dealings. I do support my trans students. I have gone into meetings with students and admin to help support the student. But it is a tricky situation.

    okay, my fingers are tired. Sorry for the length!

  6. #6
    When in doubt? Smile! Chrissi's Avatar
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    Hi Jeri Ann,

    Yes, I am familiar that you are a retired teacher/administrator
    Yes, TEN is one of the groups. As a side story, I was planning to form a group coincidentally called the Transgender Educator Network when I was looking to register the domain I came across TEN...how funny is that.

    I am lucky in that my credentials have already been updated and transferred however, my college (A catholic school) refuses to change my name and update my transcripts. Right now I do not have many affordable options as they obviously are claiming a religious exemption to discriminate. I will not name them yet, as litigation is being contemplated. I don't really need it, but it's the principle.

    I am in Massachusetts, and while I am aware of numerous GNC and transmen educators, I am personally only aware of 2 other elementary or secondary teachers here in Massachusetts who are transgender women. My experience at the school where I teach has been positive. However, I retired from coaching 2 years ago from another school (I coached in a different school district than where I taught), after the high school I coached at became a toxic situation with a brand new Athletic Director. My colleagues there and fellow coaches in the league were wonderful and supportive. I was a highly respected and long time coach. The student athletes from my school as well as other schools were as far as I could tell supportive as well. It was just my particular AD. It was heartbreaking to leave, but it was a 16 year tenure and new coaching brings new ideas to the table too.

    So even here in the liberal northeast not all is a bed of roses.

    I am to the point where I would not even raise the issue that I am trans, BUT I feel this is such an important issue. We are pioneers and for our students and colleagues to see us, to be visible offers hope to those that follow. We won't win this battle by hiding, that is how I feel.

    thanks again Jeri Ann for your post. I wish you all the best getting back into the classroom....You truly are behind enemy lines.

    [SIZE=1]- - - Updated - - -[/SIZE]

    Nadine,

    No worries for the length...Ive been known to send texts longer ;-)

    Thanks also for tackling that list...I intended them really for rhetorical and conversation starter purposes, but thanks nonetheless.

    Your last response is not unique. I fear at times, when issues arise, that I will be viewed as trans woman with a self interest. I am privileged with many strong and vocal allies. A phrase I like to use when organizations reach out to me to give a talk: "You are not recruiting me, I am recruiting you." (I consult the the Massachusetts DESE Safe Schools program, and several State Universities especially in trans related health care policy issues as well as a public speaking group on LGBTQ+ issues and experience.) We need powerful and influential allies who are willing to advocate on our behalf, lest we are seen as the hysterical preachy self interested trans person.

    I have particularly addressed this issue with my administration and superintendent. While I acknowledge a willingness to be that person, I reason with them, that I am not the best choice for that. Luckily I am in an area that is progressive enough to self reflect and understand the reasons for that. We also have some wonderful resources available to public schools here in Massachusetts too...the aforementioned Safe Schools program. Nationwide, there is GLSEN too. While its focus is on students, I don't always see a dichotomy of interest with my LGBTQ students and myself. ( I am likewise my school's GSA co-advisor - but I was prior to my transition too).

    Be careful with the parents who view you as some sort of catalyst. I maintain a visible presence as an example, but I am always weary of that parent. Your transition is new...I hope it will improve with time.

    I am encouraged that your students are very supportive...as were mine. In 3 years, I have not once, including the very first day...been misgendered by a student. (My first year returning as Ms.Z I have several return students and on the instant of coming into class greeted me with a smile and how was your summer Ms.Z?) I did have a couple of colleagues who struggled, but they were trying. Now, Mr. Z never existed and this coming graduating class is the last that knew me from before.

    Are you aware of TEN? if not, are you interested?
    Living my happiness and facing my problems as ME...no more filter... is...so...much...everything...better!

  7. #7
    Little Mrs. Snarky! Nadine Spirit's Avatar
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    In CA, typically the GSAs are in high schools not middle schools. I would happily be an advisor to such, but it needs to be student generated. So far no student has asked for us to have such a club. Middle school level is a weird time period for students and parents, the students are waking up to their realities and yet are still looked at as little kids.

    I am aware of TEN, but not familiar with it. I am interested in it. What's up with it?

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