How Can I Make My Classroom Trans-Friendly?
A question most teachers probably don’t consider — until they have to
Let’s face it: if you’re an educator, designing your classroom in a way that’s inclusive and welcoming for *trans students isn’t something you learned about in college. It’s still probably not on your radar today, even if you’ve been teaching for decades. That is, unless you’ve actually had a trans student in your classroom — meaning, the student (and/or their parents) disclosed this fact with you, typically in confidentiality. And with COVID-19 uncertainties, who knows when (or if) schools will ever open per usual?
*Trans, short for transgender, is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what’s typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. Basically, “trans” encompasses all gender identities that are not cisgender.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a K-12 public or private school teacher, online teacher, or college professor. The fact is, there are trans students of all ages and stages.
If you haven’t had a trans student yet — to your knowledge — it’s only a matter of time before you do. This is not because there are suddenly more of them, and this is not the latest fad or trend. Trans and gender nonconforming people have not only been in existence forever, on nearly every continent, but also have been recognized, revered, and integrated into cultures, religions, and societies worldwide that honor more than two genders.
The reason why it may seem like there are more openly transgender people in America today is due to many factors — like education and information (and the speed at which we can access it), resources, opportunities, and means of connection, which all make coming out feel a lot safer for trans people. That said, there’s still a very long way to go.
Perhaps more importantly, the reason why it may seem as if trans people are crawling out of the woodwork is because my generation — today’s parents — finally realized on the whole that shaming children for not…