Teacher of a Transgender Student

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #96314
    Fred Young
    Participant

    Hello,

    I am a high school math teacher in a small rural district in upstate NY, and am cis male.   I am looking for advice/help as I am hoping to develop a professional development around providing a safe and welcoming classroom for transgender students.  I have 3 transgender students this year, and based on my life experiences have no idea what they are going through, but want to help support them, and help other teachers do the same.

    If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear from you about you’re experiences in high school, good or bad, particularly with interactions with teachers so I can help build an environment that emphasizes the positive and minimizes or eliminates the negative experiences.  What do you wish they had known, or done?  What did they do that hurt, or made you feel unwelcome or unsafe? I have been looking through the forum and learning quite a bit, but anything you are willing to provide, specifically in terms of school experience, would be great.

    Lastly, if this post is out of line, or offensive, I’d like to know that too.  As I have said, my experiences are very limited, and I really just want to know more to help make my school a more welcoming space for everyone.

    1 user thanked author for this post.
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    Replies
    • #96378

      Hi fred. Firstly, thank you for this post. I think it’s great that you are actively trying to gain a better understanding for the benefit of your students. I wish I had a teacher like you in my school. Obviously times have changed since I was in school and although I’m from the UK (school system is a little different here), one thing that would be helped would be been a teacher who simply understood what it was I was going through. Having that person who understands is a vital part in not making any of your trans students feel alone. Being trans can be a very isolating experience. I’m sorry but I can’t offer anything’s useful than that I’m afraid, having only recently accepted myself as trans myself.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #96392

        Thank you for sharing Amelia,

        I have been very lucky in terms of the cards I was dealt when it comes to societal privilege, white, male, cis, middle class, etc so I feel I need to actively pursue what it is like for others who do not fit the societal mold.  The more I hear from people about their experiences and how I can create a positive impact, the more welcoming I can make my classroom, and my school.

        Thanks again for sharing!

        • #96435
          Tonya G
          SILVER

          Thank you so much for being the educator that will have a life long impact on your students. There are not enough of you. I’m 65 years old so my experience being transgender is quite different from you’re students of today . When I was a child there was no social awareness of our community. I didn’t even realize that there were others like me out there. Thought I was a freak of nature and to make mention of it would have probably been institutionalized.I am ambiguous about my feelings related to transgender youth today. On one hand I’m so happy that they will be spared the lifetime of anxiety and internal issues that people like myself had to endure. Often I felt that my only option was to seize to exist. On the other hand I’m quite proud of my life’s accomplishments which wouldn’t have occurred had I transitioned when I was young. I’m still with my wife of 40 years, have a loving relationship with my daughter, have 2 wonderful granddaughters and had a successful career. I feel I’ve completed my commitment to life’s expectations. Yes it was difficult and at times painful but what a loss it would have been to not have lived my life as I did. I feel I’ve now earned the right to be happy. I think that you should probably in a subtle way make your students aware of all of the wonderful things that the future might have in store for them.

          Thanks again for your interest in our children’s future.

          Tonya

    • #96340
      DeeAnn Hopings
      AMBASSADOR

      Fred:

      I commend you for wanting to understand the situation for your students. It is a very good thing to do. I don’t have direct knowledge as I came out several months before I retired. However, in general trans folks need to know that they have allies. But, I believe that being a bit subtle is important as it may be a bit embarrassing for your students with respect to their peers. I think respect is also significant in terms of using preferred names and pronouns without a hint of reacting oddly. Tone and inflection make a difference, so business as usual. I’m not sure how to do this, but if other kids do or say some untoward things, that obviously needs to be corrected. The “how” is important because if not done well, a backlash could occur.

      I lived in Corning for 23 years before I retired and moved to the SoCal desert. The LGBT community in Rochester has been in place for many  years. You may find some resources here:

      https://outalliance.org/

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #96347

        Thank you for sharing DeeAnn.  Using preferred names and pronouns is a good tip, and one that I have heard before, but the added piece about normalizing it is great advice.  I’m actually in Dansville, but figured Rochester would be a better identifier, maybe I’ll change that.

         

        Thanks again!

        • #96360
          DeeAnn Hopings
          AMBASSADOR

          Yes, I know Dansville. It is halfway between Corning and Rochester. Got stopped by the police there one Saturday night at ~1am coming back from a trans/CD gathering in Rochester!?!? But, that is a story by itself…

          One more thought…

          Regardless of best intentions, mistakes will be made. But, the important thing is to not be afraid to ask questions about what is appropriate. If you have gained trust, your students will be OK with telling you and your colleagues what they want/need. The understanding part may not be easy as it will be foreign to your experience, but keep working at it. Be open to corrections. Sometimes apologies may be appropriate, but don’t overdo…

    • #96323
      Sam
      FREE

      Hi Fred although I didn’t come out as transgender until just recently at 50 years old one of the things I believe is most important even more so with younger people is to just be accepting of who they are and be supportive and validating of who they are

      it is getting better I agree but there is still a tremendous way to go I also think that educating other students and adults regarding acceptance and diversity is important as well

      I applaud you for reaching out and trying to educate yourself and to help these beautiful people be there authentic selves

    • #96315
      Michelle Larsen
      AMBASSADOR

      Fred, thanks for reaching out. I’m not sure if your students are MtF, FtM, or something in between, so I certainly can’t provide a one size fits all. I would imagine being from Rochester, New York, that the school district, or state Dept of Education would have a lot of resources for you to refer to. You can also check out any of the Forum posting here, or the Articles many of our members have authored. But since we do not allow non-adult members here, there would not be much in the way of current, real time, information available. Here are a couple of web links I have used in the past as excellent resources, that you may find helpful: https://transequality.org/ and https://www.transgendermap.com/. I hope these help you at least get started. Michelle

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #96322

        Thank you Michelle,

        This is exactly it!  I didn’t even think to include MtF or FtM!  (all of 3 of my students are FtM btw)  I think we have come a long way, but there is so much more we can do.  I would also be happy to hear about past experiences that would help me shape things for students today.  Thanks again for the resources, I’m going to check those out and continue cruising the forum!

        Fred

         

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