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Any trans professors?


Myles97

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Howdy! I am a grad student working on a PhD. Is anyone here a professor? I am nervous about coming out to my work in the next few months, but I’m hoping to be living full time as myself by the time the fall semester starts. I’ve been teaching as a female, but will start presenting as and going by my male name. My department is pretty liberal, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little worried about how it is going to go. Anybody have a great experience being trans at any specific school? Anywhere I should avoid? I’m currently in the south, so I can’t imagine it gets worse lol! 

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I’m a professor at a university in Japan, so things might be different for you. After teaching here for about 15 years, I came out to my university as an mtf transgender about a year ago, and I haven’t had any trouble at all. In fact, everyone has been extremely supportive—especially my students.

 

Good luck! I hope you hear from some university teachers in the US, too!

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  • Admin

I have three friends who are adjunct Professors in the University of California system who are doing what they like best with a lot of success.  All three are agreed that they hate the same thing about the job which is the grading system and pressures of ending the semesters and quarters, but they have not had problems with colleagues or administrators.  At one point or another they have participated in some activities where they were seen my ultra-conservative folks who had demonstrations on campus and put up with some fallout from the "visitors" (invaders to me) but were supported by the school and their students.

 

We do have some private colleges out here that are run by conservative organization that do not care for Trans faculty, but we also have the Community College systems where Trans people are protected by state law and would most likely be welcomed. 

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  • Admin

Well, she isn't a member here, but one of the most famous trans people in the U.S., Jennifer Boylan, is a professor of English at Colby College in Maine.  I never heard of her having difficulties in her career as a teacher.  I know 3-4 folks locally, most also known by Vicky, who seem to be thriving as instructors..  I'd be very surprised if you ran into any difficulties, except those all women face in STEM fields.

 

Carolyn Marie

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@VickySGV and @Carolyn Marie thank you both for sharing that with me. That makes me feel a lot better. I’m from the south and I don’t see a lot of out trans professors around here. I totally understand why, but it had me so worried that maybe there weren’t any. Thanks for giving me hope!!! I definitely want to move either up north or to California after graduation. 

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  • Forum Moderator

I happen to know that the number one authority on steam engines in the United States, if not the world is a trans professor. A friend of mine counts her among their friends (they're all steam-engine enthusiasts together). I don't remember where she teaches though. I just remember that it's somewhere fancy.

 

Hugs!

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Myles, might I suggest you speak first directly to your advisor about how to go about coming out at your university. Advisors are typically going to be on your side, and it is always good to have allies. I am somewhere behind you, still writing proposals towards PhD candidate positions, and made the decision to include my status moving towards transition in my personal letter. I think like Vicki said above, in a few colleges being transgender will be a problem, most not so much.

If my transitioning is a red flag (for any particular university) then I probably would not be interested in contributing my scholarship there anyhow!

I do strongly suspect that the world of academia in general is likely the safest and most open environment to transgender and transgender rights there can be. So you have absolutely chosen a good path. Also note that once you obtain your PhD, you can farm it out worldwide. Thus, for example, any position in any Nordic country will be a zero issue for hiring, etc.

Good Luck!

S.

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  • 2 months later...

Never met any such professors during my years at university.  I was the closest thing I ever encountered, but certainly nothing "professorial". Taught applied soc-stat for a couple of semesters as a graduate teaching assistant, and later worked for a couple semesters as a research-tech in a humanities resource center, but that was the extent of my university employment.  Did turn down  a field-research assistantship with an arch-arch professor, and later a graduate research assistantship with an anthro-professor. 

 

Had some ambitions in academia for awhile, but eventually decided that it was too much work, in too unstable an environment, for too little money.  I certainly admire those manage to land a career in academia.   Best wishes to all here who might have such aspirations.

 

   

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  • 5 months later...

I am assistant professor at a university and I provide online education. We have to go to the campus 4 times per year for in-person sessions with the students and for clinical techniques instruction. I have not been back to campus since I made my decision. I have only spoken the chair of the diversity council. She seemed okay and asked if I was ready to tell others. I held off. I want to pick a time to have a long talk with my section head and the dean. One never knows how it may go. I have other professional work to fall back on, but I really do not want to blow the position I have as it will likely pay for my procedures as I go down this path. There is part of me that just wants to wave a banner, but discretion is a better course for me now. I am sure they will slowly pick up the clues. 

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Hi, Katie!  I agree with how you're proceeding, as it pretty much mirrors how I did it. First, I should mention that I'm at a university in Japan, so my experience is likely to be different, but I agree with your approach. These are the steps I took, in this order: 1- Person in the counseling center, which is also where we would report harassment and related issues. 2- I spoke with my department head. 3- I spoke to my dean, together with my department head. 4- I told the teachers in my department.  Those first 4 steps took a month. Shortly after that, I started going to work dressed as a woman. I also started telling my students. Generally speaking, I dress pretty conservatives, but probably not as conservatively as my female colleagues. All of this has gone EXTREMELY well, and my university has be VERY supportive.  Good luck to you, too!  Slow and steady is definitely the way to go.

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Kasumi,

 

I really like your taste in outfits. Yeah, this will be interesting. I go back to campus mid-January for a week. It will be interesting to see how I am treated. In theory the person I spoke with in HR should not have said anything, but human nature is to spill the beans so to speak. What makes things a little more sticky is that I work clinically in a separate job with my boss at the University. I think she is open-minded, but then again, we have never talked all that much. The last time she saw me, there were no clues. Time will tell. One of the intermediate level guys I have to deal with in another part of the program may be a bit weird. He is the conservative type tuned into Fox News and anti-vaccination...so...that could be an interesting situation. I hope that my dean will be open minded. 

 

I may try to just save up as much as I can to make sure I have a fair pool of cash so I can get my surgeries paid no matter what, and then come out. It may be the safer route.

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I am a trans nonbinary professor, but I'm only out to one person at my institution (so far). My presentation has changed in a noticeable way, I think, since I've allowed myself to explore and express my gender, and a few colleagues have indeed noticed and made comments, but my experience is not comparable to trans binary transition. The one person I'm out to is a good friend and also happens to be the faculty chair of our college LGBTQIA+ ally & education group (of which I am a contributing member). Many colleges have student or employee ally organizations. @Myles97 &  @Katie23  is it possible there is such a group at your institution? Also, typically college employees are required to fulfill professional development obligations, and often the institution has an employee education department. Such a department ought to offer some kind of training/education about LGBTQIA+ inclusion. If you investigate, you may be able to connect and network with the folks who design and deliver such content, if it exists at your institution. This way, you'll have a direct line with those folks on campus who are actively contributing to fostering a safe and inclusive environment. Good luck! 

 

P.S. @Kasumi63 great pics! When I took Japanese 101 as an undergrad, our professor taught us to sing the sakura song. I remember the line, "kasumi ka kumo ka" comparing the cherry blossoms to mist or clouds. I loved learning Japanese. 

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4 hours ago, Vidanjali said:

I remember the line, "kasumi ka kumo ka" comparing the cherry blossoms to mist or clouds. I loved learning Japanese. 

 

Thank you for mentioning that. Not many English-speaking people notice that my name means "mist," so I was really happy to see this!  Great advice to Katie about getting in touch with groups that are likely to be supportive. Unfortunately, my university doesn't have an LGBTQ + group, but most in the US certainly do.  「霞か雲か」 有難う御座いました!

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19 hours ago, Katie23 said:

It will be interesting to see how I am treated.

Yes, Katie, it sounds like you might have some bumps in the road. Good luck! And please let us know how things turn. I will say this: once you start telling people, it will be hard to turn back! All the best!

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  • 2 years later...

Heyy ! I am an professor at an university located in Maryland. I am early stages of my transition and feel stress about what to wear and how to introduce myself next semester when I will come out to the students. Love this discussion topic and would love to hear more from other's experiences in academia. 

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  • Admin

I'm not sure if we have one or more here; I know of several FB friends who are, including one at Cal State University, Fullerton, in Orange County.

 

Carolyn Marie

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Zoeyy,

 

Maryland is a bit more progressive than most states. It can be different for everybody. I used to teach at a university in Utah. I was there for a couple of years. I took a cautious approach, and waited until I was prepared in both appearance and deportment. I waited until I was on gender affirming hormones, had a fair amount of changes to my skin, and appearance. I also had a fair amount of speech therapy before I attempted to present in public. I also had facial gender affirmation surgery, previously known as facial feminization surgery. I wanted to have the best possible presentation when I came out and started to interact as my new self. I had a long discussion regarding HR about my email, and name in the official directory. It took only a few hours to make the changes. It took me longer to change over course materials plastered with my old identity. As for the use of the restrooms, we had some private ones I used until I could gauge the response of the female students. Things progressed without a hitch. I even wound up doing a presentation on transgender issues. 

 

Not everybody will have the same easy experience I had. I have been unbelievably fortunate in generating some extra income, and running into the right folks who helped facilitate my journey. The big thing is to communicate to those who may be impacted by your coming out. It is better to explore things openly rather than put more stress on yourself. Good luck!

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On 11/30/2021 at 10:43 PM, Vidanjali said:

...our college LGBTQIA+ ally & education group... Many colleges have student or employee ally organizations... Also... institution has an employee education department...ought to offer some kind of training/education about LGBTQIA+ inclusion. 

 

Sigh. I wrote about this in 2021, resigned due to disability the following year. Now Florida has eradicated all DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) departments in state colleges, and defunded programs. How confident I was about these organizations and programs when I wrote this. 

 

On 12/1/2021 at 3:09 AM, Kasumi63 said:

Unfortunately, my university doesn't have an LGBTQ + group, but most in the US certainly do. 

 

Indeed, as Katie pointed out MD is still progressive. @Zoeyy see if your university has any sort of alliance group among faculty/staff or DEI office within HR. Groups like those can offer support and perhaps some guidance. Good luck! 

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