Oh, hey!


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So it has been a hot minute since my last post #sorrynotsorry, life aka finals and moving and commencement took over. But since my last post a lot has happened so here we go.

I am currently in Providence working at RISD in Residence Life for my AUCHOI Internship. This week actually marks the half way point! But lets start at the beginning…

So before moving to RI I was really on the fence about whether or not I would come out to any of the staff, or the RAs that I supervise. Granted, since I did my undergrad at SU and now my grad program there, it has been quite some time since I was in a place where it was totally up to me on whether or not people would know if I was trans.

… That lasted about a week and a half. I made it through RD training and then the RAs got here and like a lot of RA trainings across the country, we did some ice breakers – one of which had to do with the origins of our name. Well I don’t really know how to describe my choice of Bryan without explaining that I chose it. I went to court and filed that mountain of paperwork to make it official. With that explanation, inevitably comes the “why did you change it” and so I just came out to all of them in one fell swoop.

At this point in my transition, mainly because of the beard, most people nod their heads like they understand and then a day or two later we will be taking and its obvious to me they don’t remember. Which is fine, except it leaves me with a strange two sided feeling of both invisibility and valuation. Obviously I have some unpacking to do about that.

Its been a great four weeks so far, I’m loving my RAs and I’ve gained some great On-Call stories. But I keep coming back to the out-ness question. Most people assume I identify as gay from my dress/mannerisms, which I’m not too concerned about, but I keep coming back to the navigation of sharing my trans status. Stories have different meaning without that crucial piece, and part me of me feels totally inauthentic if people don’t know. All of these things are something I know I will be dealing with in the next few months, with fixing up my resume (which is super queer), TPE in the spring and the coming job search. I will keep you posted if I come up with any good thoughts, but please share yours!


Me & my fellow AUCHOI Interns for RISD PreCollege 2014

Me & my fellow AUCHOI Interns for RISD PreCollege 2014


One of my RAs made me this =] Obvs all about the beard.

Lets Talk Language.


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Today I was going to write about the Gender Identity Development Model in my College Student Development text book but after realizing more than half my draft was about the language the chapter used and now this Chronicle article opening quote, I realized lets just talk language. So two very different contexts, one a blog, and the other a published text book used in classrooms around the country. The blog post was flat out wrong (macro) while the text book was more subtle (micro). Now let me get to why.

This was the opening text of the Chronicle post (this first paragraph was removed as of 10pm Sunday Mar 30):

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When it comes to the blog there are two things happening, one is the use of the word transvestite and the word hermaphrodite. Both words are outdated, medicalized, highly offensive, and they aren’t in reference to the same community. Transvestite means a cross dresser. But where transvestite differs from crossdressing, historically it was used to reference those in the community tied to sex work, who often couldn’t access medical transition and predominately towards people of color, transwomen of color specifically. Hermaphrodite is old medical language referencing intersex conditions, the Intersex Society of North America is a great resource for more information. The second thing is that these identities and bodies are equated with meaning absolutely nothing.

So this is the book I am referencing here and you can find it here on amazon.
Evans, N., Forney, D., Guido, F., Patton, L. & Renn, K. (2010) Student development in college: Theory, research and practice (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. pp. 327-345.

As I read through the chapter, taking notes as I went along, I realized all my notes designated ‘red flags’ about how words were defined or what was missing. The chapter starts with fundamental concepts which is great but in the first sentence its says: “Sex is biological.” Period end of definition. Oh boy. The next sentence says “Gender refers to the ‘culturally shaped expression of sexual difference’”. Ok, a little better, but conflating identity and expression. Further along we get to “For whom gender identity does not align with biological sex… may identify as transgender.” (cis-gender isn’t mentioned until the following section) Ok, I thought, this is not definitional framework that I 1.) totally agree with or 2.)use in my work.

So here are how I would have gone about defining terms.

Sex – Typically thought of as a Biological binary of M or F. However, in recognizing the medicalized social construction of biology it is more accurate to name Assigned Sex. Things like chromosomes, genitalia, endocrine systems are often markers used to determine “biological” sex, but fail to recognize “unmeasurable” stuff like the phycological factors of self identity, thus Assigned – not biological.

Gender Identity – how one (self) names their gender this can include but is not limited to: cisgender, male, female, transgender, cismale, cisfemale, genderqueer, transman, transwomen, ftm, mtf, trans*(see below), Transsexual(see below), gender variant, gender fluid, gender different, gender neutral ,agender, bigender, Two Spirit, andro, boy or boi, girl or gurl, man, women or womyn. note some people use more than one to name their gender identity
*Trans with a * is used as an umbrella term and definition is specific to an individual, just like all the other words listed.
*transsexual is not a suggested term to use for someone unless they explicitly name thats what they want -means that someone has gone through/is going through medical processes to transition i.e. hormones/surgery/surgeries.- however, it is based in a clinical mentality of the need to medically transition for legitimacy of trans-ness. Also the medical model is equated with the DSM diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder (a mental health diagnosis often needed to access transition resources). In the newly revised DSM-V, it has been reframed as Gender Dysphoria Disorder.

Gender Expression – how one choices to express or ‘perform’ their gender identity: may include but is not limited to: masculine, feminine, androgynous, stud, ag, gender fluid, gender neutral, trans*.

CisGender – when one’s assigned sex matches their gender identity i.e. assigned male at birth and identifies as a man. Cisgender has its origin in the Latin-derived prefix cis-, meaning “on this side of,” which is an antonym for the Latin-derived prefix trans-, meaning “across from” or “on the other side of”. This word has largely been generated by the trans* community(ies). It is to combat the use of “normal gender” or the phrase the book uses “traditional” gender which then frames trans* as other and deviant.

A personal side note and personal pet peeve -do NOT use transgendered. Ever. Transgender is not a verb. It is something you are not something you do (though I am in favor of gender as performance). You wouldn’t say that someone is blacked or gayed or heterosexualed. By using transgendered you are inferring that it is an action, and actions are choices, being trans, like being gay for example is not simply a matter of choice.

The last term I want to elaborate on is when the book sites Bilodeau’s “genderism” which is basically the enforcement of stereotypical gender roles on campus. This is a useful ‘ism’ to describe a social system however, I would go further and name it as Cis-Sexism i.e. the social systematic demand to perform the gender roles associated with one’s assigned sex, the enforcement of a gender binary (M/F), and the invisibility of the trans* lived experience. In light of that definition, the following section based on Bem’s Sex Role Inventory and Gender Schema has to be looked at as a model of this question: do assigned men perform masculinity and do females perform femininity. And yes that question is meant to be binary with little room for “in-between” or outside the binary roles, because if you test as that you can be labeled as undifferentiated (uh what).

So what does this all mean? What would scholarly work that uses inclusive and representative language look like? Thinking about the class where we were discussing this chapter, if I had not been in the room (being the only trans identified student), how would some of these language critiques entered the conversation and how would my classmates preparation for the field have been hindered? How do we institute a sustainable practice for our Professors?

And what about the blog? I am always on the lookout for demonstration of value. What people name or don’t name, especially in regards to communities, is something lately my ears are super sensitive too. What does it say about value that this blog post was on a major publication site for our profession? I am unsure of the rules of editing and approval for the Chronicle, but still who thought that this quote was 1. appropriate or 2. relevant to the article?

These are the questions I am still pondering and reflecting on and I would love to hear your thoughts – Comment below, tweet @Bryan_Mc or email OutinHighered@gmail.com



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When I read something, the very first thing I look for is who’s the author, what are the identities they hold and what are their motivations for writing. With that being said I am going to try and answer those same three questions here in my Intro post.

So who am I, why am I in Student Affairs and why this blog?

My name is Bryan and I’m 24. I am in my second semester of Graduate School in Syracuse University’s Higher Ed Program and a Graduate Assistant at SU’s LGBT Resource Center. I am an out gay transmasculine/genderqueer guy who uses They/Them/Their pronouns.

Thats the short version, Heres the long one:
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