Genderbender: Sexual Identity and Gender Identity

This could go south, but let’s see what happens if we have a thread devote to topics like:

  • Feminism
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual identity

at my school this afternoon during recess one of the teachers was complaining about the androgyny of a new student and how she wasn’t sure until she looked at the cumulative folder what the child’s gender was. it turned out to be female, he gender that is. i thought it was a pretty odd conversation so i decided to throw a little more confusion into her life by explaining the gender identity of popobawa4u. the effect was rewarding to watch.


Now can you explain it to us?


Let me womansplain it to ya, baby…


Any 'splaining gratefully received. Just please, don’t poposplain it.


What I’d like to dissect here is why the teacher felt they needed to know the student’s gender. Doesn’t this point to the need for gender non-specific pronouns, honorifics, bathrooms, etc?


It does, but… if I were still a teacher (and I thank the gods daily I’m not) I’d see this as a minefield.

I remember one of the local newspapers publishing a list of teachers reprimanded due to parent complaints, and along with what you’d expect (inappropriate language, excessive discipline, sexual misconduct) there were things like “failed to pronounce the student’s name correctly”.

I once had to tell my department head what I’d been up to on the weekend (watching movies at a friend’s house until after midnight; no drinking) because one of my students, a vice-principal’s son who knew the regs, saw me walking home and kept trying to insinuate that if I’d been out that late I must have been up to something not keeping with “community standards”. That’s a firing offence in Ontario.

So screwing up a kid’s gender? That could lead to a whole lot of angst and paperwork.


I have an interesting situation that has arisen in my life.

Recently on Facebook I posted this article, because I have ties to Alabama and this story has gone national in the news. The article was posted by my mom’s best friend, a long time civil rights activist.

It turns out that the head of my department at grad school is on the board of this church. He reached out to tell me that the article was inaccurate.

Also he told me that they don’t really hate gays - they love the sinner, hate the sin.

Also he told me that the whole thing with them falling out with the Boy Scouts was because the Boy Scouts (now accepting gay leaders) had abdicated their Biblical responsibility. (I had no idea about the Boy Scout thing.)

Yep, now you know why I do not miss Alabama.

The thing is, that this guy is super cool. He has helped me start my yoga business. He’s been nothing but supportive of me to be my own self, which is obviously someone pretty different from who he is.

Now he’s reached out to me and engaged me in conversation about what is happening at this influential church in the South.

I wrote him back a reply that was kind of rambling, but after a day of reflection I pulled the article off my Facebook feed because I re-read the article and basically someone went on the church website without doing any real research or talking to anyone at the church about their point of view. I felt like there are some real issues to discuss but it didn’t discuss them with any respect for the people at the church. Someone’s always painting people in the South to be cartoons, but this guy is not a cartoon. He’s a complicated, intelligent person that I respect.

I have many gay friends, and this church does a lot of things that create an atmosphere that leads to physical and legal harm for my friends.

My brother’s childhood best friend is one of the key people involved in getting the Boy Scout policy changed.

I feel like I have a chance to at least bend the ear of someone who could shift the policy of their church. I’m not sure how to approach this, but, as an advocate, I think I ought to think long and hard about it.


when one has responsibility for large groups it is easy to rely on pronouns to carry the weight for all of the names. i generally use the pronoun “they” to carry most of that weight for me. i’ve been using that word as both a singular and a plural pronoun, ala “you” for many years. in our school there are three teams and depending on what you teach and what team you’re part of you can have responsibility for 70-140 students.

as to your second point, absolutely. when the texas legislature started to debate a bathroom bill similar to north carolina’s i called both my state representative and my state senator to demand they vote to reject that bill. there’s enough stupidly mean behavior by people without the government stepping in to make it even stupider and meaner.


Catholic school? I’m surprised to hear that a public board in Ontario would do that, but I’m not a teacher. Wouldn’t the union back up anyone in that situation?


In the US, getting pregnant used to be a fireable offense for teachers. So there’s that.
There are still often “conduct unbecoming” clauses in teacher contracts that unions negotiate.
I’ve seen people terminated for that clause.


Yes, but walking after midnight on a first offence? It’s not like they’re Patsy Cline or something.


Yeah, I’m not saying I’m in favor. I’m saying it’s still a thing.
For instance: ms nothingfuture has a clause in her teaching contract about he being able to be “held accountable” for her social media posting. Apparently, pictures of her out with friends with beer bottles on a table would be a problem. Which is nuts.
On the other hand, the guy I aw terminated a few years ago for making some (totally inappropriate) comments about students on his Facebook page? He needed to go.


Ah, no, that’s both public and Catholic, because “community standards” is from the Education Act. That’s why so few teachers live in the neighbourhoods their school is in.

ETA: when I was in teachers college, one of the profs told us on his first day on the job as a teacher, all the new teachers were gathered for coffee with the principal after class and told never to be seen in {insert list of every single local bar here}, “or anywhere else like it”.

My first mentor teacher took me to a private club at the end of the practicum for a beer, and encouraged me to join such a place if I liked to go out for drinks, because drinking in public is so fraught for teachers. That was in a city of 300,000 in southern Ontario in the mid-90s.


Most likely, purposefully or not, the teacher in question treats students she reads as male differently than those she reads as female. I don’t mean this as a castigation of her or anything, but cultural programming runs deep, especially when you’re not aware of it. (Most people are not, the programming is taken as just the way things are supposed to be done.)

I’d love to have a good, commonly known, non-gendered honorific. (‘They’ suits me well enough as a pronoun, although I’ll absolutely acknowledge it as sometimes difficult to use casually.) I’ve had servers and hotel clerks call me “sir” … .when I’m wearing full makeup, a skirt, and breast forms. I can understand that they don’t somehow intuit that I’m non-binary, but clearly I’m not “sir!”


Fascinating. Someone doesn’t know their history. The Boy Scouts was founded as a way of creating a scouting reserve, owing to the lessons Baden-Powell learnt in, among others, the Boer War, about advanced reconnaissance. In the beginning Scout troops formed up spontaneously, and when Baden-Powell discovered that girls wanted in too, the Girl Guides was founded. Baden-Powell’s own sexuality was a little ill-defined; he didn’t marry till he was 55 and Cavalry officers were famous for gayness. Even if he himself was heterosexual, he would be working alongside known gay officers (even though it wasn’t called that then.)
All this is to say that despite the air of military crust around the whole thing, the Boy Scouts began as a progressive organisation. And it and the Guides is again today.


It’s the 4-star general uniform that causes that to happen.

(In the Romanian Army, i.e. before WW2, cavalry officers often wore makeup to look more impressive, and also often wore corsets. That’s just the one I know about from background reading. I expect there were others.)

Good Lord is what I say.
In the 1970s staff at our school tended to use the Four Horseshoes in Hampstead, where we often encountered parents and over-18 6th formers. Autres temps, autres mondes.


There are a few primary students in my school that “look like” the opposite gender so I also understand why this is important for a teacher to know. I was a bit of a tomboy when I was young, and I really disliked when people called me a boy. So I try very hard to get that right for other kids.


That’s the pernicious thing about that “community standards” clause – you can be lauded for something in one community, or at least no-one cares, and then you switch schools and get in hot water.

I even know of one case where the parents petitioned for a teacher to stay on and the board decided to fire him anyhow because of community standards. He was caught smoking pot, not at school. It wouldn’t have ever made the news except
he was a teacher.