Tuesday, April 28, 2015

#WeirdEd Week 54- Bruce Jenner


I'm not really sure how to approach this chat. To be honest I really didn't want to do a transgender-themed chat until I had a teacher, student, or community member who is transgender help me write it and lead it. This is one of those topics I don't know much about, and certainly don't have the kind of personal experience with that would make me qualified to ask a bunch of questions about it to other teachers.

But that thought got me thinking about how we can have this chat- With questions. I don't know a whole lot about the transgender experience. So little in fact that I'm kind of uneasy using the term "transgender experience" in the previous sentence. Your first reaction to that should be, "Well why don't you find someone to help you?" I've asked and looked, I promise. And I understand why I haven't heard back from anyone.

One- the community isn't very big. It's probably bigger than we think it is, but still not big.

Two- Responding to some rando on Twitter saying his chat's name is "#WeirdEd" to talk about being transgender doesn't sound terrible safe or friendly. I completely get that. "Weird" suddenly takes on a completely different context that we don't mean, but what we mean doesn't really matter in this case. Really, this should be an #LGBTeach chat, but Jess isn't around right now. She has written a beautiful piece on Bruce Jenner on her blog which you should read.

Three- The internet isn't the safest place, and it's a risk to put yourself out there. Again, completely understandable. #WeirdEd is about acceptance, but it's not about pushing people to do something they don't want.

So I've only written a few questions for tonight. And those are mostly to guide our own questioning. I'm hoping that conversations happen about transgender people and what they go through and what that experience must be like and who they are as students and as teachers.

For myself, I started thinking about this about a year and a half before the Bruce Jenner interview. Laura Jane Grace (@LauraJaneGrace), the frontwoman of the punk band Against Me! presented as a man but identified as a woman until a few years ago when she finally decided to be truly who she felt she was. In the process she wrote a concept album called Transgender Dysphoria Blues that is kick ass from a rock and roll perspective and incredible from a social commentary one. Buy it. Love it. Thank me later.

On top of those two things, spreading understanding and knowledge will avoid tragedies like Rachel Byrk. Rachel took her life after suffering months of cyberbullying at the hands of cowards and bastards. It's our job to educate ourselves and our kids and end that kind of ignorance and assholery. Rachel deserved better.We all deserve better. It's on us.

We are lucky enough to have a guest who goes by @RaisingRainbow on twitter coming to the chat tonight to share her experiences with her son. Please read her blog.

This chat will be a conversation more than normal I think. I hope it works. I hope everyone is brave and one and honest.

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