kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (swiss army gender)
[personal profile] kaberett
I'm a female-assigned-at-birth (FAAB) genderqueer wheelchair-using mentally-ill autistic queer sex educator-activist. With English as a second language, not that you'd notice, because it's also my primary language, and this only really causes issues when I get very tired, or I'm in German-speaking surroundings anyway, at which point I largely blend in.

I'm also a white RP-speaking Cambridge graduate working in academia, science-side. Of the previous paragraph, the only thing my academic colleagues know is that I'm FAAB and use a wheelchair. (Well, and that I'm mentally ill. It's kind of hard to hide the bit of my academic record where I bombed out of my first attempt at my Master's because of the crazy.) They haven't historically known the rest, and that's been a very deliberate decision on my part. I've worked with people who were bad enough about perceiving me as female and unathletic; I didn't feel like giving them anything more to work with.

For several years now, I've been watching increasingly enviously as my peers on the arts side of things - and especially in women's & gender studies - come out and own themselves wholly, because at the same time I've been getting increasingly stressed about keeping the two facets of my work separate, for fear of shocking what I perceive to be a fairly conservative field. Naturally it's not as simple as "it's easier to be out when out identities are the subject of study", because minorities are so often treated as fascinating specimens for study by appropriately rational and objective out-group members: hence nothing about us without us. I've got history to tell me that, and I've got the fear I've seen my friends tackle head-on when they face up to their options and choose stepping out of the closet. Still: envy, even though I know that binaries are dangerous, that I've countless more friends in the humanities who daren't be out because they're getting enough shit already for non-dominant characteristics they can't hide - who I am erasing because they don't fit this ugly narrative of envy I'm surrounding myself with.

But: then I read Whipping Girl, and realised that Julia Serano is an out trans woman and a scientist, with a website and everything. So, I thought. Maybe I can do this too, because the anxiety of keeping my names separate is grinding me down, and I am sick of feeling ashamed about my "hobbies" in the context of my "professional life" (because, let me tell you, I'm a damn sight more helpful to a good deal more people in providing sex education than I ever will be in studying the minutiae of chemistry of lavas produced by underwater volcanoes), and I am sick of feeling unable to draw on all of my skills in all of my work because I don't want to tell my head of group the context in which I'm part of a team of twelve running an international community of thirty-five thousand as a safer space.

So: integrative identity. I am taking my first tentative steps into being one whole person, rather than rigidly, consciously splitting myself off into different faces for different communities. I'm scared. But: I'm ill enough that there's no guarantee I'll be able to keep working beyond completion of my PhD. I'm not as brave as I make myself sound here, either: all I'm doing is making it possible to link up my two selves, a little more easily than has previously been the case.

But somebody has to do this. Several somebodies. I'm under no illusions about being the first, and I hope to goodness that I'm not the last, but I am a somebody in the right place at roughly the right time and relatively low risk. So: here goes.

I've got a plan, and it goes like this: I'm going to e-mail my group asking them to let me know their allergies, intolerances and dislikes - I'll be baking cake for them once a fortnight for the forseeable - and also telling them about my preferred pronouns, and then I am going to wish them a happy new Gregorian year. Plus, of course, actually listening to my arts-side friends when they tell me it's not all sunshine and roses for them, either; that it is hard for them, too; that just because it's not science doesn't mean it's not conservative; and actually listen to, and make space for, those stories as well, in my heart & in my actions.

So I've a request for you: I'd love to know how you deal with this. I'd love to know whether you're thinking about it at all, and your reasons, if you feel able to share them without compromising your separation. If you've done this, I'd love to know how, and why, and how it's gone for you. I'd love, above all else, to have a conversation about this, because the worst thing of all is feeling that I am alone in it.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-27 10:51 pm (UTC)
silverhare: drawing of a grey hare (misc - silver hare [art])
From: [personal profile] silverhare
Oh gods, you are so, so not alone in this. *offers hugs* On the one hand I am Hare: queer, non-binary, autistic, pagan, mentally ill.

On the other, I'm [meatspace name]: graduate, FAAB with a male partner, white, with a job. And I'm starting, just starting, to out myself with some of the 'Hare' categories IRL. And it's kind of terrifying.

I have plans to tell my employers about my autism and ask for some minor adjustments to be made so I can do my job properly. But how (and if) to be openly queer, non-binary, pagan? I have no idea. The internet is where I can say all these things, not IRL, and not just because of my 'writing things is easier than speaking them' facet of autism.

I am comfy talking to coworkers about my mental health. I have had nothing but sympathy, empathy and love - and sharing of other stories from similarly mentally ill folks. :) It has all been positive in that respect.

Coming out as autistic has been more... bumpy. Lots of misconceptions.

More talk when I can brain!

tl;dr approaching!

Date: 2013-12-27 11:00 pm (UTC)
we: A woman seeming to hold a ball of light. (Kerry - Fascinate)
From: [personal profile] we
Also: Julia Serano, yay! She's one of my favourite trans/gender theorists and has had some really illuminating things to say about being an out trans woman in the sciences. We saw her at a talk in San Francisco a few years ago and it was really lovely. ^^;; Are you familiar with Joan Roughgarden and Ben Barres as well? I think they're both biologists as well; Joan Roughgarden wrote a marvellous book called Evolution's Rainbow which we read a few years ago. :3

We currently go to a very good university and are finishing up our bachelor's degree, but the first time we tried for our bachelor's, gender dysphoria and other mental issues caused us to leave for five years before resuming our formal education, starting by taking general classes elsewhere and then transferring to our current uni.

I suppose we deal with some integrative identity issues with neurodiversity-related stuff - especially autism and plurality. We're autistic and don't exactly really hide it any more but there are lots of places in which we don't actually express it or talk about it, for fear of stigma and stereotyping and 'I could never have told YOU were autistic' and 'but aren't you supposed to be like $INSERT STEREOTYPE HERE?' and other varied nonsense. Plurality is often considered a mental illness amongst the general public, even though our own isn't dysfunctional (we're very happy being who we are and consider our plurality more beneficial than harmful), and because each of our own identities is rather different and is connected to different ideas about culture, language, history, identity and philosophy, so it's often very hard to bundle up all those differences and present as though we're 'one cohesive individual' when we're several cohesive individuals. So for us, I suppose it's about integrative identities.


(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-27 11:24 pm (UTC)
pipisafoat: a typewriter with a sheet of paper sticking out of it with a large heart on it (Default)
From: [personal profile] pipisafoat
My field (which apparently I don't want to say here though I think you know it kabs) is one of the most arty things that can still reasonably call itself a science, in my experience. My classmates, my professors, my future colleagues - they know how to look, and they know how to see, and I make no effort to hide anything that falls under a disability label on me. (and they get adorably excited when they realize that I do not mind talking about it, in a science-way and in an arty-way, if we keep it impersonal. omg! a rare combination of things! tell me all the weird interactions you get because of this! let's talk about your compensatory strategies!) For me, for my level of visibility and how it hits my career in odd ways, my disabilities come out almost immediately at work and very, very slowly with friends.

But because of where I live and the laws here, I am not safe to be openly queer in the workplace. Genderqueer, poly, trans*, panromantic, asexual: none of these things are safe. If someone tried hard enough, I could be fired for any of them; half of them are very easy to fire me for without the slightest hint of repercussions.

Content notes for this paragraph: transphobia & general queerphobia in medical context
I actually am still a part of what may end up being a court case or at least a hearing by the professional community to determine whether or not someone is allowed to keep their license, in part because a previous supervisor threatened me when I said that I did not think "trannies" were disgusting. This supervisor is not being investigated for those remarks or for the cases of refusing to treat queer people that were uncovered in the initial inquiry; they are under investigation for threatening to fail me and attempting to blacklist me among employers in their area. Professionally, we're not allowed to refuse to treat someone, but there's an argument being made here that Christian beliefs prevent this person from providing care to queer people; they're trying to rewrite the professional code of ethics. For the moment, this potential-case is sealed and details (including names of those involved) are only accessible to people immediately involved on penalty of removal of national certification to practice. I've made the request (perhaps in vain) that the case remain sealed regardless of outcome, because I don't want the reputation of starting shit like that when I was still a student either way, and if the case ends badly (for the queer community, for my school who is taking a large risk to pursue this, for me) I don't want my name publicly on the "wrong" side of the decision. (and if it ends well, I still don't want my name publicly anywhere. There will always be people who don't want to hire me if they know, and there will always be people who want to hire me just to say they got the person who kept the ethical standards from becoming unethical. not interested!)
end content notes

So I'm not out as any piece of queer. As long as I work in a place where I can be fired or through an organization that can remove my legal ability to work, I cannot afford the risk of being completely out. I wear an equality ring every day, and when asked, I say that it symbolizes my belief that all people should be treated equally, but I refuse to link that specifically to the queer community. (and I do mean it for all people, not just queers, so it I tell myself it isn't hiding.) I follow things like Have A Gay Day on Facebook, and my Facebook pronoun is "they", but I will never publicize a queer-seeming relationship on FB (okay really I'm unlikely to publicize any relationship, but unlikely and "never ever" feel very different even if they end up looking the same). I'll never outright say anything on FB or to more than "a trusted friend who happens to work with me" type of coworker until I'm safe. And I'm not safe to be who I am. I'm not even safe to support queer rights. So for now, at work, the most I feel comfortable doing is quietly supporting someone in need, possibly-but-not-likely saying that they are specifically-with-me not alone, and standing up for their right to receive equal quality of treatment. (I will report the hell out of anyone who denies treatment to a queer. That is technically not permitted by national organization, so I have a solid leg to stand on without outing myself as at least an activist.)

But it's weird for me professionally in that it's my job to be overly aware of how disabilities and medical conditions impact people's lives, so when I do things that, in any other context or from any other person, seem like Disability Activist Things ... I just look like I'm good at my job, or like I don't know when to turn off Job Brain. In a way, that's nice, because I'm never questioned on it. In a way, it sucks, because then if I want to suggest that it's just what considerate people do or a nice thought, it's like I'm making This Whole Big Thing out of nothing. And also, They're Professionals Too, so either I'm Preaching To The Choir or it's Leave Work At Work Already.

some days it is nice to just stay at home with the pets, because they get it.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-27 11:52 pm (UTC)
forests_of_fire: A woman with shoulder-length black hair. She has a friendly, but serious smile on her face. (Oleander: Default)
From: [personal profile] forests_of_fire
Our chosen family and friends know about everything, but our family and the people who work with us professionally (i.e. doctors, SSA people, case workers) don't know about anything personal about us outside of what they need to know, like our disabilities. The only exception to this is our therapist and PCP, who know about us being multiple. (We don't consider our multiplicity a disability.) And, even then, we don't talk about it much - we're known as Rachel by our therapist but it's not a regular discussion topic and I'm sure we have a note in our records with our PCP, but that's the only place it comes up.

I suspect we have an easier time of things because we don't deal with co-workers on a daily basis and we figure that people who work with us professionally have no need to know we're pagan (though Mae's tattoo probably gives that away), demisexual, polyamorous, etc. We keep things pretty clearly split between our personal life and professional life, but that's because our disability status gives us the privilege of doing so.

Name-wise... We have the same sort of split. We go by Rachel everywhere online and IRL, except with family and Professional People (i.e. doctors, case workers, SSA). But the idea of us being professionally known by our legal name is... really digging against us, especially now that we have big Artwork!News that we're waiting to announce. With us, unfortunately, we're kind of stuck - we're determined not to get rid of our Finnish last name because, at this point, it is the single thing we have tying us to that side of the family that isn't a disability. -laughs- And we're not able to come up with a name that goes with the last name that sounds right. We figure that something will shake out at some point. We may compromise and go by C. Rachel [legal last name] for our professional name, but... we'll see. -shrug-

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-28 12:13 am (UTC)
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexseanchai
Oh, I'm thinking about it. I am no longer in the same section as the most vocally cissexist coworker of mine, she transferred back to days, which makes it easier to contemplate telling work that genderqueer is a thing and also let's change all my name things just like when she (or other she or other other she) got married only with changing the first name as well as the last. (I think changing my initials in the system is a lost cause, though, none of the married-and-changed-name folks have their current initials. But new system is supposedly coming.) It's been illegal in this state for a few years for the state to discriminate in employment on the basis of gender identity, it's been illegal in this state for a few months for anybody in the state to discriminate in housing on the basis of gender identity, and while I don't think there's been any test cases yet and I ain't angling to be one, it's reassuring to know that the law is (at least nominally) on my side in this.

Thing is, though, the face I show my paycheck job is also the face I show my family. Mom is...name an 'ist' she probably is one. Except 'feminist'. Sexist, racist, heterosexist, cissexist, those are the ones I'm absolutely for certain sure of. I keep trying to call her on it and it keeps ending in a fight that leaves her convinced I'm starting fights with her for the fun of it. I don't know what's going to happen when I finally tell her who I am. (Or, possibly more likely, when she reads the About the Author in one of my upcoming books and demands an explanation. Though I still don't think she's read past the dedication of A Dinner of Herbs, so.)

And quite frankly, I don't want to be people's learn-about-genderqueerness moment. I'm willing to do some educating, but if I'm going to be out and proud, change my legal name, the whole shebang, I am going to be a whole lot of people's learn-about-genderqueerness moment and that is going to come with a whole bunch of cissexism (every time I tell somebody new on Slacktivist what my pronouns are, it Ends Badly) and I'd almost rather stay hiding forever under my birth name and the cissexist assumptions that go with it.

I'm going to keep hiding at least till I'm no longer living with my parents. Might be a few more months. Might be, though I hope it's not, a few more years. Depends entirely on how much money I can save and how quickly, and how soon my promotion pay kicks in, and how fast I can pay down my debt, not necessarily in that order.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-28 02:08 am (UTC)
macey: (Default)
From: [personal profile] macey
So, on the one hand, I'm Macey: Kinsey 5, agnostically pagan, self-critical to a deeply unhealthy self-hating level when my brain cycles that way, uncertain whether I cross the line to being Ace when I still want cuddles and kisses sometimes but sex is a thing I do for partners.

On the other hand, I'm Macey, cis-gendered heterosexually-married white female - in the computer science industry, in a subfield where the /good/ companies, the ones who are /really trying/, hit maybe 5% female if they're lucky.

I make a conscious effort to out myself as bi (or, well, pan, leaning lesbian, but it's a lot easier to 'casually mention ex-girlfriend' than it is to get into a terminology discussion) whenever it is remotely relevant - but I'm married to a dude, which is pretty hard to beat on 'Automatically Straight' points. The rest of that stuff, I'm keeping out of meatspace.

Because - because it's pretty depressing the amount of effort I spend on advocating for /gender equality/ (it's fucking 2014, people, are you /kidding/ me with this shit) in my field. Because I'm not really sure what I feel when it comes to religion. Because I've convinced myself that my mental health is totally fine because I know how to barrel through the dark spots with my Comfort Stone, and my special words, and lying curled up until my brain stops ripping itself to shreds. Because my sexual identity is no one's business but mine and my partners'.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-28 04:12 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] rjw76
Your experience being out as bi in a scientific setting matches mine; the biochem lab I worked in for five years all knew (or had been told) but because I was in an apparently-monogamous relationship with a man all that time I think most of them had me filed as straight even though I'd told them I wasn't, and made occasional comments on the attractiveness of women to and with them.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-31 07:27 am (UTC)
macey: (sheep!)
From: [personal profile] macey
I probably mis-speak when I say 'computer science' since what I mean is 'tech industry' ^.^;

One of my more blatant memories of this was when I was in college, at a recruiting event for 'diversity candidates' (and in tech, 'diversity' /always/ means 'female'), and I'd mentioned to the outsourced recruiting guru who was running the event for Big Name Company that I'd been on exchange to the US, and later that I'd gotten engaged when over there. He made a remark about me going across to 'find a husband', which, ugh. So I replied that everyone who knew me had been rather surprised, and would more likely have expected me to come back with a girlfriend. He didn't know how to respond to that.

With regards to commenting on the attractiveness of women, I guess that falls under 'not sure if Ace' a bit? The percentage of people I'm attracted to is ridiculously low. I've met five people in my entire life where my reaction was an instant 'Yes.' ^.^; and also, face-blind. So, I'm terribly useless in those 'who's hot' conversations ^.^;

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-28 04:19 am (UTC)
steorra: Part of Saturn in the shade of its rings (Default)
From: [personal profile] steorra
I probably have thoughts and the fact that I'm not even comfortable writing them here pseudonymously probably says something in itself.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-28 06:05 am (UTC)
elisem: (Default)
From: [personal profile] elisem
I don't know how I'm dealing with it yet, because I'm at the beginning in a lot of ways. (OK, a beginning that has taken most of my life.... I once knew someone whose affirmation for themselves was "I'm right where I should be, and right on time, too!" because it made her laugh in a good way. So maybe there's truth in that for me, too.)

On the one hand, being out about a lot of stuff is easier when one is a self-employed artist with a well-employed partner, and doesn't have to worry about losing a job and not being able to eat or keep a roof over the head.

On the other hand, I've come out about a lot of other stuff (bi-queer, poly, various this and thats) already in my life.

On the third hand, well, it's the third hand that's the problem. Or at least it's the third hand that's the pattern: in so many things I am in an area many people perceive as being "between" two other things. Bi? Yeah. Hearing-impaired, neither Deaf/deaf nor hearing? Yeah. A whole bunch of other stuff, too. So when looking at my WTFcomplicated?genderstuff, it's looking like yet again here we are on the third hand.

I don't even really have words for it yet. But I've been reading and listening to people, and talking to a few people, and I'm starting to talk to more people. I'm kinda scared. But I'm going to find out how I deal with this by dealing with it. Because the alternatives are no longer what I'm willing to do.

Thanks for being a place to say this out loud. This is the most specific I've gotten about this stuff in a not-private forum, and I'm not being all that specific. But it's a start.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-28 09:08 am (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
So many of the barriers between Who I Am are a lot less of a Thing for me because of the identity-spanning knowledge of my Overlady, who is the co-worker who I co- closest with. She met me as Azz well before meeting me as $NAME, and I met her as $HANDLE shortly after meeting her, and well before encountering her presence as $NAME. I would be Proper Fucked without her.

I am Azz: bi, not entirely binary gendered, I quack like something on the attention focus problem spectrum, pagan, variously mentally ill, somewhat disabled, less plural than I used to be but not fully singular, geek, feminist, with non-traditional family structure.

I am also $NAME: fat, cane user, white, geek, pagan, Socially Odd, FAAB, PCOS, gender-disobedient, oblivious and easily startled by turns. I am visibly queer by means of a pretty blatant Facebook-advertised same-sex relationship.

I have accumulated more Geek Cred under my real name than under my professional name; talking specifics about my experience is a curious google away from outing my real name to someone who only knows my professional face. That part is stressful. I have reasons that I don't want to go into in too much depth (at least in public) for not wanting to connect myself by name.

This workplace is safe enough that I feel I can show a good number of my nonstandard bits.

I'm more visibly physically disabled in person than I am on the internet; I carry a cane with me in person although I may not have it to hand at all times at work: my stamina's increased enough that it's safe to have one that lives in my cube and comes with me when I think I'll need it, but can stay there if I'm just running for coffee or overnight -- I don't always have to have it to get to my car. I don't talk about this aspect of my life on the internet as much as I probably would if I were feeling perfectly candid. The cane is a relatively new arrival to my life, as I started using it after moving to the Bay Area. I drafted a "this is my life with my current ability levels" thing at one point, but it's stuck in the eternal text file. At first I felt ashamed and then I felt it was sort of irrelevant because I've mentioned my limitations what felt like "enough". But it's hard to not notice in person, because the cane is deliberately visible, with reflective bits.

My Overlady and I take turns peeling each other off the ceiling. I'm allowed to see her in anxious and vulnerable states; she's allowed to see me likewise. I consider keeping her on as even a keel as we can manage to be part of my duties. I need her functional, so I do what it takes to make that happen, to the limit of my abilities. My team has enough things that can be done remotely and enough moving parts that it's understood and expected that people will sometimes need to work from home due to illness or family obligations or immovable errands; needing to take a day when my sleep schedule cycles itself, or work from home because I am too crazy to face the office, is not remarkable, though I don't particularly flaunt the reason(s) a lot of the time.

There is the LGBTQ* support group at work. I have the right markers to be Geek, and yet I am still the happiest rainbow, so certain geekfolk who might reject out of hand The Queers as being non-geek-alien still accept me, even if they do wind up a little baffled in the process. A nonzero number of the people who are out and active in the support group are in non-technical roles, because it is still culturally easier for, say, men in office administration to be out and proud than it is for men to be out and proud as software engineers. Also sometimes it seems like there's a certain amount of matter-of-factness which is both protective and incompatible with general fabulousity -- being blatantly in-your-face fabulous seems to be a profoundly confrontational presentation, whereas a lot of geeks-amongst-the-mundanes culture seems to round on the idea that the tallest daisy gets mowed, so it's better to keep your head down about the really weird stuff, and you can be really seriously weird as long as you don't blatantly stand out too much.

I am relentless about food-inclusiveness. I do my level best to make sure that there is always something for the people who can't have gluten or chocolate, and I attempt to never forget that sometimes the special-dietary-requirement food is more delicious and some people who can have the other will still prefer that. And I ask after and try to remember preferences as well. I have a document which gets stuff every time I learn something new about someone's general likes/dislikes/requirements. I try and be loud about it, to normalize it.

I have been quietly telling my real name to various of my co-workers. Most of the backchannel knows who I am; a large portion of the backchannel is also part of #adventuresofstnono.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-28 09:57 pm (UTC)
silveradept: A representation of the green 1up mushroom iconic to the Super Mario Brothers video game series. (One-up Mushroom!)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
There are a couple things that I keep cordoned off from the rest of my public persona, mostly because I have no wish to invoke the possible wrath of Moral Guardians by being overtly knowledgeable about Things Consenting Adults Do in a profession that works with children and teens as well as adults. Professionally, though, I am tasked with treating all people with respect, regardless of presentation, identity, mental illness, and the like, so I can be Mysteriously Knowledgeable about those kinds of things when prompted. While my organization would presumably back me up were such a fuss to be raised, I don't trust them enough to actually do it when pressed.

Other than those things, my presentation and identity match, so I don't have much to contribute. It is highly informative, though, so thank you for everyone who shares - it makes me better able to do some of the more delicate work of my profession.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-29 01:19 am (UTC)
talkswithwind: (cm-saywhat)
From: [personal profile] talkswithwind
I took the step of advertising my gender identity earlier this year, so I'm still going through this process myself. I didn't do it by sending an email to all of my coworkers, rather a blog post on my work-oriented blog that a lot of them read. I got support from my management chain, but very few other people even mentioned it. Pretty much a non-event after a week; especially since I didn't change how I dressed or presented myself. To my coworkers the note pretty much said, "yes, there is a reason my hair looks like this," and most of them probably forgot it even happened.

That said, as I came out as non-binary it's a hard thing to flag yourself as. People plonk me on the binary, and it takes constant reminders to get them to put me otherwise and I'm not a fan of constant reminders since it seems like shouting, I'm special! Treat me special! which offends my midwest sensibilities. My friends largely get it, but then they're gender-clued so few worries there. Future workplaces where I have to break in a whole new set of coworkers... haven't cracked that one yet.

I must say I got mixed advice about whether to take that step at all. One camp was very much in favor of integrative identity, and pointed out that it is something of an activist step to do such. My field has some decided gender issues, so me coming out helps shift things the right direction. The other camp was against it, saying that the workplace is not the place to claim minority status that doesn't directly apply to the job and by doing so I'm exercising uncomfortable privilege, not to mention sabotaging my future career.

This second camp was a lot more comfortable with me claiming the other half of the binary from where I started. Trans-OK, Genderqueer-NotOK. And Trans was OK because I do pass well enough to not make waves if I make the effort, so long as names don't come in.

Like many online natives I have several names. My getting-paid-for-a-living name is an obvious derivative of my legal name, both of which are strongly gendered. I'm giving active thought to picking something a lot closer to neutral to better help my text-persona pass as 'inconclusive', but I've yet to find one I like enough to live with. I happen to like my name, it just causes me some problems.

So I came out on my blog and haven't done much with it since. My public twitter account does include trans/gender content so my followers know something is up. When I get around to picking a name, my coworkers will get to learn all over again. Being a member of an invisible minority class means I have to actively remind people of my membership in it, and I'm lazy. If I change my name to something on the opposite end of the binary, I'll be more visible; but I'm aiming for the middle so the cloaking system will still be active.

I chose to integrate my gender identity into my professional identity for a few of reasons.
  1. Since I spend a majority of my waking hours in a given week working (and commuting to/from work), it's a lot more comfortable to me if I can present closer to how I want to present while I'm doing it. Before I came out, I was overcompensating on weekends just to balance things out.
  2. I do believe that I can bring some positive change by being out there. This is definitely a privileged stance since I'm mid career and have a limited notoriety already.
  3. I'm willing to 'pay the price' for presenting as something other than the default gender/class combination for my career, which I've been up until a few months ago.

All of these points can be argued, but I believe, for myself, that they're the right choice for me.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-29 10:39 pm (UTC)
talkswithwind: (cm-saywhat)
From: [personal profile] talkswithwind
The comments I mention came up in the context of this is not my forever-job and how do I declare this for future employers. The negative comments derive directly from the marketing aspect of job-hunting: you're trying to convince employers to fork out for a high ongoing cost, and it pays the seller better to fit the buyer's expectations. This is why the people trying to sell me very expensive things and services all come to me wearing suits and ties/heels (and never both). By presenting non-binary, I'll have hiring managers looking at me as, "the weirdo" rather than, "the candidate", which means I'll have a harder time getting job-offers.

QED: don't present non-binary on the googleable internet tied to my legal name.

By the way, these are the same people who maintain rather rigid public/non-public barriers to their online identities. They actively curate anything that touches their legal name to ensure there is nothing potential employers would object to, which means private-only journals and reduced social media presence. Coming from that point of view, publicizing something as potentially prejudicial as "I'm genderqueer" is very much against the grain; it's much better to have that conversation in person on the first day of the job during the "meet the newbie" session.

It's a valid way of doing things, it's just not something I want to do in this case.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-29 08:32 am (UTC)
highlyeccentric: Sign: Be aware of invisibility! (Be aware of invisibility)
From: [personal profile] highlyeccentric
My teaching style - and to a great extent my professional persona- is very... exuberant and open. I don't filter very well, so I try not to give myself many filters.

When I first started teaching, it was not long after the high-news-profile suicide of a queer student in the states. The blogosphere from which I take many of my cues was on fire with calls for public queer teaching / allyship, and it really got my back up. Why should I be expected to do something, be something, take risks, which, say, [personal profile] kayloulee would not be expected to do? K, my best friend, who is in the same field as me and was far far better informed than I about queer/feminist/gender politics than I when I came out (probably still is - certainly she'd be better informed about current thinking on disability and race issues, although aside from eyesight we have the same ability and race profiles).

K is also an atheist, and was raised that way. This is significant, as the first boundaries issue I encountered was actually students opening up to (/dumping on) me about their religious crises. For a long time I felt very protective of my identity/experience as a queer apostate, and it was not something I felt I had to or ought to share with students. So I if an identity-boundary came up I would endeavour to say or do nothing which K couldn't have honestly said. I had chosen to model allyship rather than identity, and I thought that was going to be where it stayed.

Two things changed that:

One, I was put on some antidepressants which made my behaviour even more bouncy - bordering on manic - than usual, and eroded my short-term memory. This happened the day before i had to teach. I wasn't prepared for side effects which might screw with my teaching - in terms of physical health, for instance, I had taught classes before while doped up to the gills with anti-nausea meds and period pain tablets and only managing to keep my breakfast down by force of emetephobic determination. So, after quickly warning my boss, I taught the class - but I needed to make changes to the way inclass assessment worked as I had no memory span; and also, I was aware that my fast speech and quick subject changes gave the impression I was high on speed or coke, so I needed to give some kind of explanation to the class.

I now wouldn't teach a class in such a state, but it didn't actually do any harm - my students seem to remember this fondly and, more importantly, they also remember the content we covered (referring constantly to my checklist and with them reminding me if I repeated myself). A few students who'd submitted disability accommodation notices and had been a bit withdrawn since then seemed less shy of me after that, which I counted as a win.

So from then on out, my classes came with content warnings, and a little spiel about the disability services office and how much easier things are for all concerned if you go through them and/or standard extensions instead of handing in late or vanishing on me. The time I had a housemate who attempted suicide over one of *her* asssessments, my whole class got a notice ('reminder: this essay is not worth suicide! If you think it might be, or are not coping in some other way, here are all the university resources to help you! LINK') appended to an informational update about their assessments.

The above has changed since I got to my current institution, which doesn't have a central disability service office or standard extensions processess. My talk here is more personal: I solemnly undertake not to be a dick if you need to tell me something about your health(etc), although also I don't NEED to know. Here are some examples of situations my past students have brought this up in. I also talked openly about my mental health (in the past tense - I am still depressed but they don't need to know that for the point to get across) in context of essay planning and learning styles. I was able to say: I didn't do this kind of planning in undergraduate but when I became depressed I found it really helpful. Adapt these recommendations according to your learning patterns and the results you're getting so far.

Queer identity I did not WANT to come out with and wasn't exactly comfortable doing so, but I felt it was my moral/solidarity obligation. I was giving the 'homosexual(ish) stuff in the middle ages: what evidence, how useful are modern concepts of 'sexuality' for talking about medieval lives and/or sexual activity?' lecture. I can cover same-sex activity among men without getting into any dangerous waters or feeling obliged to strike out on a line of argument unsupported by any Respectable Scholarship. Not so for women: I have personal, bisexual erasure issues with the ground-breaking article (Bennet, 'Lesbian-like relationships' - relies heavily on 'lesbian continuum' ideas) and I know people who are trans* and asexual and who have (what I percieve as) much bigger/more important problems with it. I have not yet found subsequent scholarship which points out those problems, although evidently some scholars of same-sex activity or affection among women prefer not to use it as their foundation.

I came to two conclusions: one, it would be morally wrong not to cover those problems in class; two, covering those problems in detail (rather than as a footnote) would best serve the teaching points I had established in the first half of the lecture, especially re: the unreliability of back-dating sexual orientation/identity categories onto the past.

Point two being the case, it had to be done, and I just... did not want to be the person who says "I have friends who are trans*, and..." From the perspective of queer politics, for the same reason Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick's early students advised her *not* to preface her lectures with statement of 'I feel odd teaching this because I'm straight', I felt I needed to approach this from in-group rather than out. Rhetorically, 'this is a problem for me, personally, and also it has sigificant flaws as a historical paradigm' works better than 'this is a problem for people you may never have met, or, in the case of asexuality, may never have HEARD of'. It was also convenient that I could use the relative privilege of bisexuality (most undergrads these days have heard of it) to show up the limits of a gay/lesbian framework - and then move on to trans* and asexual concepts which one can't assume that undergrads will be familiar with, let alone receptive to.

I am pretty sure this worked. I had a student contact me saying that as a bi person she appreciated that half of the lecture. I had some really insightful essays on the "sexuality" questions and some good in-class presentations. One student used herself as a methodological test case, building a hypothetical life for herself and her male (gay) friend as ideal 12th-century spouses (albeit ones troubled by sinful lusts).

So it worked. It met all my teaching goals and it felt like the only way to handle my ethical responsibility to my queer peers in the field. But it took a lot out of me - I went splat for the rest of the day (and devoured all of Whipping Girl, actually, because I needed something related but more down-to-earth and handling 'worse' problems than my bisexual angst). Perhaps if I gave this lecture again (especially if, eg, in my current institution, where the students are more reserved and the general teaching culture is more formal) I would dial down the personal anecdotes in it (starting with the 'if you inisist Ricahrd the Lionheart is gay, I will dig my heels in and demand you prove he wasn't bi - I can play personal identity politics too, John Boswell!' line).

So... I was very lucky that my previous institution was the kind of place where that level of openness works. On the other hand, without strict norms of formality/reserve I had no way of knowing what WOULD work, which was stressful, and no one to model my choices on.

As for disciplinarity... medieval studies is an odd cookie in the arts cookie jar, I think, tending to conservatism (and some sub-disciplines more so than others). Pretty sure I'd have a lot less trouble with this if I were a modern lit person. Being out and queer or even simply invested in queer theories can call one's scholarship into question. My favourite example is this article, which turns the non-essentialist queer theories back on themselves and argues that the all these queer theorists are just *too queer* and they're creating normativity in the sources in order to have something to queer against. I don't know what the author's personal orientation is, but he seems to think queer theorists are coming from a deep personal need to queer things, so. Hrrm. (And yet he has something of a point... if only he didn't call out and blame queer theorists by name. And if his logic didn't seem to be that *queer* theorists can't be trusted so... he should be?)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-29 10:54 pm (UTC)
el_staplador: (Default)
From: [personal profile] el_staplador
Thank you for this. I am not sure that I have much to add beyond the post that led to my giving you this prompt in the first place, except...

Except there are still holes in what all sorts of people know about me; different holes for different people, usually, but I am just getting to the stage where I feel uncomfortable keeping things from some of them, where I can admit to half a secret, but the other half is just too far.

(Like: I can say, I do not want to do another degree, seriously, but I can't say because I am pretty sure that the next degree will end in my wearing a dog collar.)

And it is a question of balancing the ideas that not everybody needs to know everything about me and that I don't mind people knowing, except for those things and those people and that I don't want to be the one who tells them.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-31 12:30 am (UTC)
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
From: [personal profile] askygoneonfire
I guard my identities. I am not sure I ever trust anyone enough to show them all, or even many of them all at once; internet space gets more of me because you don't see my physical body. Somehow that's a distinction that allows more of me out in to the open.

I also live in a liberal bubble at university where, if I chose to divulge everything about myself, nothing would change.

With these things in mind I thought I'd just let you know you are braver than I. I have such respect for bravery in this area.


kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)

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