I am an academic. I read and write for a living. My intellect is a commodity. My goal is to become much more enlightened with new ideas, so I process new information as much as I can to have an evolved perspective. I have wondered, at times, if I am just so much in an academic space that I don’t even think about how non-academics view life. Then, I engage in a conversation on social media on a simple topic of gender identity.
After being a minority voice in saying that gender identity is not fixed, as gender identity is not the same as biological sex and that is not the same as sexual attraction. These are three distinct things. I realize that this can be confusing for a great deal of individuals, but when I realize that there are people who just blatantly disregard these ideas, I become stunned. In my world, I am unfamiliar with people who think differently. Thus, when I am around more than just one person who doesn’t understand it, then I find myself explaining these theoretical standpoints to people who have no concept or care about other people outside of their own narrow-minded perspective.
I have found myself coming to this conclusion – what is my job as an educator? What is my responsibility to my students who want to express themselves as they find themselves? As an educator, I wonder how would a student feel if I disregard a student’s gender identity? If a student comes in to my class and because I don’t believe in this “nonsense” as a biological sex equates to gender identity, then what would be my response as an educator? Would I call that student by the birth name rather than the name the student wants? Would I not call this person by the pronoun that is desired all because I simply just don’t believe it?
If this happens, then how would that student feel about me as a student? How would the student feel about attending that class? How would that student feel about attending that school? Even more daunting, how would that student feel about education because of my implicit bias against this issue? As a person who has felt marginalized while attending college and graduate school, how can I justify creating this atmosphere to others?
Educators should build people up and not tear down people nip-by-nip through excluding comments and behavior based on personal feelings. Educators are people as well, but as a profession, we cannot allow our personal feelings and beliefs supersede the needs of our students.
Maybe, we need to expand the consequences of implicit bias made to all types of students. We have the responsibility of creating an inclusive classroom. If you prefer to not understand or even agree with gender identity being different between biological sex, then find a way to get over it or do not enter into the field of education.