Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Transgender Teacher: 'Being Trans Isn't Anything to be Ashamed of'

Transgender Teacher: 'Being Trans Isn't Anything to be Ashamed of':

Transgender Teacher: ‘Being Trans Isn’t Anything to Be Ashamed of’

Dusty Rader

Last month, Connecticut teacher Dusty Rader had a “teachable moment” with his students at Avon High School in Avon, Conn. During a school-wide conversation about school climate and bullying, and talk of the recent North Carolina law that prohibits transgender people from using bathrooms that match their gender, Rader told his students that he is transgender. “I don’t think I have anything to hide from my students, and I don’t want them to think I do. My mantra is that being trans isn’t anything to be ashamed of.” Recently, Rader talked to NEA Today about his coming out, and how his fellow educators across the U.S. can support their transgender students.
So you recently made a very significant, personal announcement to your students. What prompted that discussion, and how did it go?
DR: My principal had been talking for a couple of days with the kids about bullying and school climate… I was listening to him, and thinking a lot of stuff is going on, especially in North Carolina. Also I was thinking I want to be open with the kids. I want them all to know that they can be proud of who they are. So I used his conversation about bullying to say that what’s happening in North Carolina is the work of bullies who haven’t been stopped, and that their bullying of trans people affects real people. In fact, it affects me!
For a lot of the kids, the thing in North Carolina wasn’t a tangible thing until I said something. One said he’d never thought of it as something that affected ‘real’ people until then. Of course a lot of them were like, ‘What? I never guessed!’
Tell us a little about your own experience as a student, coming out as a transgender man…
DR: I came out in November 2008, during my senior year of high school. I already presented as male, so what changed then was the language. My chosen pronouns became ‘he/him.’ For me, I had a lot of support, and I didn’t have much trouble. I was in a public school, Glastonbury (Conn.) High School, and I know there were definitely teachers there who would have stood up for me if I had problems. There were teachers who were like, ‘If that’s who you are, that’s who you are, and we’re going to support you no matter what.’
I had it really easy, but I know a lot of people who didn’t. I have a friend who dealt Transgender Teacher: 'Being Trans Isn't Anything to be Ashamed of':

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