Trans* 101 redux

What I pulled together wasn't a great presentation, but I think I did an okay job presenting it.  People laughed at the funny parts.  Nobody in the audience threw stuff at me. The section I blogged about yesterday ended up only being about one slide long, and basically just said "Use the pronouns people prefer" over and over, juxtaposed with various dumb arguments for getting to use some other pronouns.

I followed that up with the Genderbread Person graphic from  One of the few questions I got actually referred to that slide -- someone was confused about the difference between identity and expression, and why someone would present in a way that differs from their gender identity.  I explained about how some people have situations at home or at work that prevent them from presenting as freely as they'd like, how some people have reasons for presenting the way they do -- like, I wear mainly boy clothes because I like pockets -- how some people can't present the way they identify -- also me, I have no idea what a nongender person dresses like, and there's no way I could dress that wouldn't still place me firmly in the gender binary to most people -- and how some people just don't feel obligated to conform to a social expectation of how they have to try and look if they want their identity to be respected.

I went over how dictionary definitions suck for this, because the dictionary isn't a law book of what is true about language, it's lexicographers' best shot at how language is being used at the time of compilation.  I explained that, particularly with linguistic territories as rapidly changing as the names for marginalized groups, the dictionary and the internet are never going to be able to give a final, definitive answer about what words mean and which words are okay.

I quoted from one of my favorite short stories, "N-words" by Ted Kosmatka, which is about the racism neanderthals face after being cloned in Korea, about the language used to describe them after neanderthal became a racial slur:

Every few years, a new name for the group would rise, and then it would sink again under the accumulated freight of prejudice heaped upon it.

They were called neanderthals at first, then archaics, then clones, then -- ridiculously -- they were called, simply, Koreans, since that was the country in which all but one of them had been born.

(Note: I got the text from a podcast reading of the story (at so I'm not sure I got the punctuation right.)

At the end, I begged people for questions because I was very confident that I wasn't clear, and I got a couple.  (I mentioned one of them above.)

If I could do anything differently, I would definitely do the slides in a different order.  The way I just wrote them down makes a lot more sense than the way I presented them in the slides.  And, I would address nonbinary gender pronouns.  I totally forgot to do that, and had to hack together a slide at the end to bring it up, because it's obviously one of the most blatantly give-able pieces of information in a presentation mainly about how I don't, and can't, have answers for people.

I'm definitely hanging on to this, though.  I might be able to use it in a class some time.