“Ms.” Chu

/ September 11, 2013/ Gender, Personal, Teaching/ 0 comments

I came across an article today. It’s a reflection written by a trans woman about her teaching methods over the years. She comments on gender and the expectations of her students and concludes that she cares less about being loved by her students than she had once. I can’t say I’m at that point. I want to make a measurable difference in their lives, and I’d love it if they knew how much I cared.

I don’t identify exclusively as female, but as far as feminine stereotypes about care-taking, that is where my values lie. I don’t know how much of that is informed by being raised as a female, but I wonder what kind of teacher I will be in 10 years…or in 20. Will I be solidly established in my preferred gender identity, will I have shifted recently, will I have just gotten used to constantly shifting? How will all this affect how I teach if at all?

The article I read today was titled “One Classroom, Two Genders.” The author taught 12 years as a man and 13 as a woman.

I wonder what my own students must think. To see many, one, or neither standing before them everyday?

On Tuesday a student called me “Ms. Chu”, and another student said “Oooo, you broke her first rule.” The first student didn’t understand, so I repeated what I’d said on the first day: I preferred to be called “Professor Chu” and not “Ms. Chu.”  Another student asked why. I simply said I don’t identify exclusively as one gender and that “Ms.” doesn’t feel right to me.

It was just 60 seconds in one class of many classes we’ll share this semester, of many more classes these student will ever have. Will I be the subject of stories told to friends and children about some “strange teacher I once had”? Or will these students learn volumes about gender and think back to one of the first people who was open with them about being different? Will what happened in those 60 seconds mean anything to them at all?

I’m not even sure what it means to me.

But I suppose that is one of the privileges of being gender variant. I don’t have to know, and once I come to a conclusion, I don’t have to commit fully to any one answer.

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