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Crossing the Line: Transgender Pedagogy

Jordan Engelke
Mentor: Dr. Graham-Bertolini

Fall 2014

Capstone Project Final Paper

Introduction: What is the Line?


The line between which literature is included in the canon and taught in
literature classrooms and which is excluded is often explored, challenged, and
then boldly crossed. Such was the case when female authors demanded
representation in the literary canon and when African-American writers fought
for inclusion as well. Now, the struggle to cross that line for recognition and
inclusion is beginning again, this time with transgender literature.
The T in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) studies
is often ignored in literature classes and, indeed, in the wider world. Being
overlooked is only part of the problem, however. Blatant hatred and
discrimination against transgendered individuals is rampant in our society. As
recently as October of this year, a U.S. Marine was charged with murdering a
Philippine transgender woman (NBC News), and radical feminist Sheila Jeffreys
recently published book Gender Hurts (2014), brings to light the hatred some
radical feminists have for the transgender community.
Transgender theory is important and relevant to address such bias. It can
highlight the strengths of the movement and bring transgenderism out of the
darkness and into a light of understanding, rather than perpetuating the fear and
loathing that exists today. Trans individuals are forced into the fringes of society

for numerous reasons, including lack of understanding, transphobia, and social


taboo. As classrooms across the nation move toward more inclusive
environments, it is imperative to promote gender and sexuality studies, which
may be lagging behind the advances of other fields such as feminist studies and
multicultural studies. Generally speaking, academia aims to be inclusive, but so
far, it has not been very successful in including topics related specifically to the
transgender movement. Its time that the society of trans people in the world are
given their rightful spot in academia, and this movement can be augmented with
the study of transgender literature.
I will explore pedagogical approaches to this new field of literary study and
how English professors can integrate transgender literature, authors, and theory
into their classrooms. I will also discuss the controversy surrounding the
inclusion of transgender individuals into academic conversations, and the
massive potential that this field of literary study holds. Crossing the line into
teaching transgender can be difficult, but changes must be made if the LGBTQ
community is to find acceptance and security in our society, and these changes
can begin in the classroom.

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Figure 1: Transgender Umbrella

Throughout this paper I will use some terms that may not be familiar to
everyone, so I will define them here for convenience.
As pictured in Figure 1, transgender is an umbrella term for anyone who
defies their birth-assigned sex (Stryker 19). Underneath the transgender umbrella
are people who identify as transsexuals, crossdressers, intersex, grad queens or
kings, androgynous, and anyone who considers themselves a gender bender. I
will sometimes use the abbreviation trans in reference to this term, or the term
transpeople to refer to the group of people who may define themselves as
transgender. A transsexual is someone who wants to physically change their
birth-assigned sex with surgery (Stryker 18). Transman, transwoman, and
transpeople refer to those who have transitioned from their birth-assigned sex to
a different sex. For example: a transman was assigned female at birth, but he now
lives as a man, and a transwoman was assigned male at birth, but she now lives as

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a female. Its polite to refer to transpeople by their appropriate gender pronouns


(Stryker 20). Anthony, a college student who I interviewed for this research,
refers to himself as genderqueer, which he says describes people who identify
outside the male/female binary (Serano 25). They may also describe themselves
as nongendered or gender-fluid (moving freely between genders [Serano 27]).
Outside of the transgender umbrella are cisgender and cissexual people
those who identify as nontransgender or nontranssexual (Stryker 22). For the
purposes of this project, I will use the word sex to refer to someones biological
status, while gender will be used to describe their outward appearance, but, as
Serano notes, legal sex is more often determined by our genitals than by our
actual chromosomal makeup (Serano 24).
Gender Identity Disorder, also referred to as Gender Dysphoria, is a
serious disorder that is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders-5 and is used to describe transgender people. A symptom of
GID includes the feelings of incongruence between ones gender identity, social
gender, and physical sexual characteristics that are very indicative of the
transgender experience. This diagnosis is controversial because some transpeople
do not want to be seen as having a sickness, while others find comfort in having a
medical problem assigned to their feelings. Its worth noting that in order to
legally change ones sex, they must be diagnosed with GID by a professional
(Stryker 13). Paradoxically, gender reassignment surgeries are not covered by
health insurance because theyre seen as cosmetic or experimental surgery.
Stryker argues that if GID is going to continue to be considered a psychological
disorder, then it must be covered by health insurance, but if it is not covered by
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health insurance, then it needs to be taken out of the DSM in order to prevent
transpeople from being seen as mentally ill (Stryker 15).
The term intersex refers to a baby who was born with undetermined
physical sex characteristics and/or undeterminable genitalia (Serano 25). In
cases like these, a doctor will typically choose a sex that the external genitalia
most resemble and select that sex on the childs birth certificate. This is a
controversial practice and the subject of much debate among activists, parents,
the medical industry, and intersex people. There are many cases of doctors who
have chosen a sex for an intersex child, performed some kind of surgery to fix
a genital anomaly, and the child then grew up with Gender Dysphoria or other
gender anxieties because their legal sex didnt match their real sex. According to
some experts, about 1 in every 2000 births result in intersex babies (Stryker 9).
According the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA), these numbers are
sometimes problematic because doctors judgments about what is considered
intersex differ widely. Some doctors only take the external genitalia of a babys
anatomy into consideration, while some doctors will look into their chromosomal
makeup. This only compounds that fact that better visibility and acceptance of
transgender needs is necessary in order to address these kinds of issues. Overall,
however, the ISNA has estimated that a whopping one in 100 births results in
babies whose bodies differ from standard definitions of male or female bodies.

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Statistics and Controversies


Transgender individuals face discrimination in an astonishing number of ways.
They are often refused medical attention and legal rights, as was the case with
Naya Taylor, a transgender woman who was refused hormone replacement
therapy with her primary care physician based solely on her status as a
transwoman. The clinic she went to, which provides HRT to other patients on a
regular basis, told Taylor that it, does not have to treat people like you (Lambda
Legal). Transpeople are also typically excluded from media depictions, except
when portrayed as a scandalous taboo, or as part of a special one-time episode.
This is slowly beginning to change with such television shows as Orange is the
New Black and Transparent which both feature prominent trans characters.
Transgender individuals are also widely left out of literature, which is evidenced
by the general lack of popularized transgender authors, characters, and themes.
Some literature is being written about them, especially in the young adult genre,
but much of it remains unpopular, even actively excluded from the literary canon.
Discrimination is even rampant in other social movements, which I will discuss
later in this paper.
The discrimination extends even further into the community with which
transpeople supposedly belong: LGBTQ. The irony is that the T in that acronym
stands for transgender, but the trans community is often marginalized by the
queer community itself. Birklid agrees, saying, We are so concentrated on
gay/lesbian rights within the LGBT community, not much has been said about
the T (Interview with Anthony Birklid). Where they should be able to find

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acceptance and understanding, transpeople face discrimination, confusion, and


even disgust. Some gay men would never consider dating a transman, and dont
understand why, if he were born a woman but is sexually attracted to men, he
wouldnt remain a cisgender heterosexual female and hook up with all the hot,
straight guys. Quinn, a transman from Tennessee says, I'm not rejected because
of my identity; I'm rejected because of [others] false assumptions about my body,
my genitals, or the way I have sex (Barucco).
In fact, Gianna Israel and Donald Tarver assert that, no single group has
gone more unnoticed by society, or abused and maltreated by institutional
powers, than youth with transgender needs and feelings (123). This could be
attributed to the general fear of the unknown, or perhaps a bias toward anyone
who does not fit precisely into the gender binary. Whatever the reason for this
abuse and maltreatment, transpeople experience overwhelming isolation
because our society is reluctant to meet their needs, which is evidenced by their
increased rates of substance abuse, depression, and suicide, which is as high as
50% (Sausa 47).
Approximately 7% of college students identify as transgender, which is
likely a low estimate because many transpeople do not wish to publicly identify as
trans, and there usually isnt a way for transpeople to identify their gender status
on official documentation (Newhouse 23). Furthermore, its legal in most states
to fire someone for being transgender, and transpeople are unable to serve in the
militaryanother reason why transpeople are hesitant to identify themselves
publicly (Goldberg 2). The exclusion of transpeople in the armed forces may be a
contributing factor to the numerous cases of violence perpetrated by members of
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the US Military against transpeople. If members of the military were more


familiar with transpeople, perhaps they would be less inclined to commit acts of
violence against them. In addition to this, transpeople are often raped before
being murdered, beaten by police officers, and refused treatment at medical
centers (Rand 11). Sexual assault and violence is overwhelmingly committed
specifically against transwomen, and is often perpetrated by men (Serano 15).
Another form of bias against transwomen occurs when womens
organizations welcome transmen but aggressively exclude transwomen.
Organizations such as redfems, Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists, and Deep
Green Resistance publicly condemn the inclusion of tranwomen in the larger
feminist movement. Many radical feminists even refuse to recognize transwomen
as real women, and they will offensively refer to them with male pronouns. The
radical feminists who subscribe to this idea believe that because society forces
people to think or act in a certain gendered way, transmens claim of having a
female brain are utterly invalid. These feminists also maintain that people who
are born men still retain their male privilege even if they choose to live as women.
In their view, the MTF transsexual has a choice in her gender expression and
because of this, she will never be able to understand what its really like to be a
woman (Goldberg 2). Sheila Jeffreys, a prominent feminist scholar and professor
of political science at University of Melbourne in Australia, adheres to this line of
thought by asserting that, by transitioning or living as men, female-to-male
transsexuals are submitting to the misogynistic ideals of our society, but are also
only doing so in order to advance their rank in our society (Goldberg 7). She also
declares that male-to-female transsexuals transition solely for reasons of sexual
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fetishism and, in doing so, void their right to participate in the feminist
movement (Goldberg 9). This, of course, is not only hateful, but incorrect. The
reason people transition is generally not embedded in sexual desire, but in
intense psychological distress with the body they were born in or assigned at
birth.
Julia Serano, author of Whipping Girl and a preeminent theorist and
transgender-rights activist, does not identify as a male-to-female transsexual, but
as a woman (30). She was assigned male at birth, but is now living as a female.
Serano argues that her position as a woman who was born in a mans body forces
her into the margins of society in numerous different ways. She says that most of
the discrimination she has faced has not been anti-trans discrimination or
transphobia, but actual misogyny because our society still sees women as the
weaker sex (3). She goes on to explain that many people are horrified that a man
would ever want to relinquish his privileged status in the world to live as a
woman, and that is where she has experienced most of the hatred and
discrimination in her life. Serano says, discriminating against someones
femininity is still considered fair game in our culture, and she laments that,
while progress is being made on many fronts for diversity and change, women
still remain the least privileged and most discriminated against group in todays
society. Seranos difficulty is two-fold: she is a woman and she is transgender,
which puts her at the mercy of two different, but sometimes overlapping, types of
hate and discrimination.
Opinions like those of Jeffreys can stem from a place of hate and general
misunderstanding, but are also likely a result of her privileged position in our
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society as a cisgender person. Like male privilege and white privilege, cisgender
privilege typically goes unnoticed until someone points it out. It manifests in the
same way that heteronormativity does: we automatically assume that everyone is
either male or female, and when we encounter those who do not fit exactly into
those categories, we see them as strange, confusing, or even threatening. If
Jeffreys were made aware of her privilege as a cisgender individual, perhaps she
would be able to see the extra layer of discrimination she is placing on the
transgender community.
This is why exposure is so important to the acceptance and integration of
transpeople into our society. It is scientifically proven that groups with higher
diversity accomplish more than homogenous groups do. This is because diverse
people can bring their experiences to our attention, provide different points of
view and different solutions to problems because of their unique positions in life.
The same goes for transgender people. With their help, we can create a more
diverse atmosphere in our society, and in our classrooms.

Inclusion on Campus
Despite the advancements that have been made in the last several years,
problems still exist for trans students, faculty, and staff on college campuses. For
example, a college professor at Quinnipiac College in Connecticut who was born
male, but asked to be recognized as female in her workplace, was suspended in
2013 because she refused to submit to a medical examination to prove her sex
(Sausa 49).

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As a microcosm of larger society, colleges have the power and resources to


contribute to the advancement of transpeople in powerful ways. Across the
nation, colleges have begun taking slow steps toward a more trans-inclusive
environment. This has been seen in the addition of gender/gender expression
to many university anti-discrimination statements, including NDSUs. However,
simply adding a piece to the anti-discrimination statement doesnt automatically
erase discrimination.
In attempting to include transpeople more widely, we should also be aware
of the potential for pathologizing them. By studying the transgender community
and their experiences, we risk furthering their marginalization by making them
objects of study. Seranos solution, then, is to insist that universities make a
concerted effort to hire transgender faculty, include transgender resources on
their campus brochures and websites, and insist that their publishers issue books
by gender-variant writers (Serano 212).
One of the ways that colleges can ensure that transpeople feel comfortable
on campus is to build gender-neutral restrooms. NDSU has built or converted 11
gender-neutral restrooms in residence halls across campus. Colleges can also
offer programs like NDSUs Safe Zone Training which prepares faculty, students,
and staff to be allies for the LGBTQ community. Further, colleges should provide
resources for trans students such as contact information for local LGBTQ
communities, trans-inclusive events, and support groups. NDSU has taken a
similar step by providing links on the prospective student webpage that provide
resources for trans students who may be interested in attending NDSU.

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Additional opportunities exist to make transpeople feel included and safe


on their campuses. All classes should include a safe space policy in their syllabi
which would delineate punishment for any forms of discrimination or hate that
may manifest in the classroom. For example, a safe space policy would state that
a classroom is inclusive of all people regardless of their class, race, sex, gender
identity, etc and would also state that anyone who makes comments that are
deemed offensive by classmates or the professor will be asked to leave and may
lose any points for that class day. This will tell students right up front that respect
is a non-negotiable issue in the classroom, and anyone who makes a student or
the teacher feel uncomfortable will face punishment. College policymakers should
also encourage staff and faculty to include transgender materials in their
curricula (Sausa). It is additionally important for faculty and staff to have some
kind of formal training on these topics.
Training seminars that are geared toward teaching faculty and staff about
transgender students would be a valuable tool. For example, faculty would need
to know that it is generally considered impolite to refer to someones preferred
sex or their sexual preference, as this automatically assumes that their sexual
identity or gender identity are incorrect in some way. Instead, we should use the
terms identified sex and sexual orientation. Training would also need to
discuss the use of names and proper pronouns, as the name or identity of the
student on the roster may not match the students actual status. This is because
most college applications ask for the sex/gender of the applicant, but only include
two options: male and female (Newhouse 25). Some have added an unknown
option as well, but that is also problematic because, for example, transwomen
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know they are a female, but are legally obligated to check the box for male. In
the last few years, many public institutions and social activist groups have called
for public health surveys and applications to add transgender to their
sex/gender options (Conron).

Teaching The T
The blatant lack of trans literature in high school and college classrooms
contributes to and even encourages our heteronormative and cisnormative
culture (Curwood). This lack of discourse regarding transpeople causes confusion
and unnecessary challenges for transpeople and their would-be allies (Drabinski
10). Exposing the problems that transpeople face and adding a transgender
discourse to the literature classroom is one important way to reverse some of the
negative statistics they face. It is generally rare for texts by transgender authors
or with transgender themes to make their way into the literature studies
classroom. In an arena where gender studies and multicultural studies are a
common area of emphasis along with the literature major, there is no focus on
transgender studies (Blackburn 627). When English departments concern
themselves with the study of diversity and cultural exposure, its unfortunate to
see the overall lack of concern and general unawareness of transgender studies.
Therefore, I am calling for even greater diversity in college curricula starting with
the humanities. [Page] Transgender acceptance is a social issue and therefore
needs to be discussed in a social environment like the literature classroom.

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Teaching transgender studies can come with many obstacles. Studying


transgender people and theories in a classroom setting may elicit some
uncomfortable, or even resistant, reactions among students (Lovaas 182). It may
be best, if the teacher is underprepared to discuss such topics, for her/him to
bring in a speaker from another department who may be better suited to
introduce and illuminate ideas in that fieldor better yet, a transperson from the
community (Lovaas 183). Having a safe space policy clearly expressed in the
syllabus is a good way to demonstrate from the get-go that this class will probably
discuss things with which students may be uncomfortable or unfamiliar in order
to expose them to those topics and thereby increase their understanding of them
(Lovaas 185). According to professors who have taught transgender texts in the
womens studies classroom, the arguments and overall value of trans texts are
often lost in a sea of questions about gender reassignment surgery or proper
pronoun usage (Drabinski 14). Some theorists recommend that we resist the urge
to ask these questions and that professors should respond in ways that challenge
the students to focus on not on the trans identity, but on what their gender
difference means and how we can understand it in a larger context by questioning
our own privilege. We need to be able to free ourselves from the assumption that
difference equals difference from sex-normativity (Drabinski 14).
In the humanities, the last thing we want to do when entering a new or
unfamiliar field of study is to pathologize the very subject we are trying to
explore. There are things that can be done to avoid this, but the most important
for literature study is to let the text do the talking. Focus on exactly what the text

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gives the reader. Educators are in a unique position to promote acceptance and
social justice.
Drabinskis solution to avoid making transpeople seem like objects of
study is that instead of trans people we should think of trans phenomena,
because it will help us see the bigger pictures of the transgender movement. I
disagree. The very practice of teaching a phenomenon rather than the people who
perform it is degrading because in that way, we are substituting our voices for the
voices of transpeople. Instead, we ought to make a concerted effort to include
more trans voices in our conversations, considerations, and literature. We should
consider trans people and their writing because they are the ones who know the
most about the struggles and triumphs of the trans movement. Without studying
their experiences, we have no basis with which to study the phenomena they
produce.
The gender dichotomy is a difficult construction for students who are new
to the study of gender to overcome. If this is an issue in the classroom, professors
can ask questions that provoke students to question their own cisgender
privilege. They can ask things like: how do you know someone is male or female?
Is it their unseen body parts, their names, their body language? We can even give
examples of people who do not subscribe to traditional gender roles, because
everybody is doing gender, but nobody is doing it right (Drabinski 15-16).
Another common mistake to avoid when teaching transgender studies or
trans students is the use of common, but hurtful, phrases, such as transpeople are
trapped in the wrong body or that they are beyond the [gender] binary
(Bettcher 401). Both of these models are detrimental to the trans movement.
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According to Talia Bettcher, the trapped in the wrong body model feeds the
oppression it opposes; it requires the individual to undergo sex-reassignment
surgery to correct the wrongness, and thereby accepts the dominant ideas of
what counts as being a man or being a woman (Bettcher 384). The beyond the
binary model keeps the gender binary itself in a privileged position by assuming
anyone who doesnt fit concretely into the categories of female/male is inherently
different, an anomaly. This is also problematic because it prevents transwomen
from voicing their struggles as women in our culture, who are subject not only to
transphobia and trans-misogyny, but also sexism (Bettcher 387).
Another consideration is the special guest model commonly found in
womens studies and gender studies classes. This occurs when a transgender text
or writer is brought in to the conversation briefly and only to highlight the tenets
of another theory. Womens studies courses are a great place for transgender
theories to be integrated because of their existing frameworks for critiquing
gender and social constructs. In order to prevent, however, the special guest
syndrome, the course should embrace trans studies from the very start, and
continue to include trans voices throughout the semester. Most study of
transgender texts does indeed begin with a focus on womens literature or women
writers, but we should bring transgender studies out of the shadow of womens
studies because it should no longer be used to further the claims and arguments
in feminist theory (Drabinski 19). Trans study is a framework in its own right and
should be taught as such.

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The Literature Classroom


I propose that transgender theory should be studied in the literature classroom.
Ideally, this class would be entirely dedicated to the study of trans literature, but
it would be possible to adopt one of the following texts or activities for a class that
focuses more widely on a literary period or a set of writers. Regardless of the type
of literature class in which transgender is taught, the overarching goal is to focus
on the intersection of sexuality, gender, race, and class, so that literature
classrooms will be able to include more diversity. Educators should include
LGBTQ-themed books and teach that the themes therein arent about the Other
theyre about every one of us (Curwood).
It isnt always easy to know which texts to search for, especially in a field of
study that is so new and disjointed. The novel that most people think about,
indeed, the first novel I read when I became interested in transgender literature,
is Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides award-winning novel about Cal, a female to male
transsexual. The problem with texts like Middlesex is that they capitalize on the
taboo nature of transgenderism without recognizing how that stigma excludes
people from our society. In this novel, as Serano argues, the author substitutes
his voice for the voice of actual transgender people, which is one of the obstacles I
mentioned earlier when discussing the possibility of accidentally pathologizing
transpeople. Eugenides, by writing about Cal as a scandalous taboo, made it so
that real transsexual or intersex voices were not heard (Serano 201). In lieu of
books like Middlesex that further marginalize the trans community, I recommend
books that do not feature transgender characters, but rather, characters who

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happen to be transgender, such as Orlando by Virginia Woolf and Some of the


Parts by T Cooper.

Teaching Recommendations
First, I suggest a primer or introduction to transgender theory for students, as
many students will have little or no previous knowledge of the transgender
movement. Its important to place this discussion in terms of its social and
historical context. That is why it would be helpful to start with something nonfiction. An excellent option would be the renowned Transgender Studies Reader
2 by Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle. It offers 50 essays on recent trends in
transgender studies (the first volume has more of a historical focus, so that, also
could be a good option). Of course, professors could select a few essays rather
than having students read it in its 700+-page entirety. I would teach this text
initially because, as my previous research in pedagogical practice has taught me,
students need to have context and stories in order for the text to feel relevant to
them, thereby increasing their engagement with the text.
The next section of the class could then focus on works of fiction. My
search for college-reading-level novels that featured transgender characters or
themes was met with much difficulty, but that isnt to say that novels with
transgender characters or written by transgender authors cannot be found. There
is a massive outpouring of transgender novels in young adult literature and
online literature with novels like Beautiful Music for Ugly People by Kirstin
Cronn-Mills, Luna by Julia Ann Peters, and Every Day by David Levithan. Its a

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sign of progress that the majority of the transgender fiction movement is starting
with young people. These young fans will likely grow up to be more accepting and
comfortable with themselves and each other, and these novels are not entirely
inappropriate for a literature class because they offer the opportunity to discuss
YA lit, societys youth movements, and the experiences we all have in high school
in exploring our identities. However, more challenging novels are desirable for a
college literature classroom.
Orlando by Virginia Woolf is a good place to start. This novels main
character, Orlando, unexpectedly wakes up in a womans body. She lives 400
years and experiences struggles with love and friendship. The themes in this
novel range from identity and gender to time, love, and class. This novel would
work well in a transgender studies class because it asks the readers to see the
struggles a person who changes bodies might face, while also allowing for infinite
other kinds of interpretations and analyses. This way, the focus is not entirely on
the transgender-ness of Orlando, but on his (and then her) life experiences and
struggles and what those experiences mean in the bigger picture for not only
transpeople, but also people of all genders.
Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg is a pivotal contemporary text in the
trans rights movement. It follows Jess who struggles to find her identity as a
butch lesbian who identifies as transgender and starts to take hormones in order
to begin her transition. This text would be useful because, first, it is written by an
influential trans theorist and activist, which gives it a note of authenticity. In this
way, we are allowing transpeople to speak with their own voices (Serano).

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Finally, I also recommend Some of the Parts by T Cooper. On the surface,


it is a novel about a dysfunctional family, but one of the main characters, Isak,
identifies as transgender. The book explores familial relationships, drug use,
HIV, identity, and sexuality. This novel will be easy for students to relate to
because it explores so many different struggles that people face, and it reminds
the readers that this novel isnt about a taboo trans person, but about all of us and
our struggles as human beings. According to many experts, students need to feel
like the texts they are reading are relevant to them in order to feel fully engaged
with the material (. Choosing texts like Some of the Parts is an excellent way to
ensure engagement.

Conclusion: Crossing the Line


Though it may seem that the situation in the transgender movement is dire,
advancements have been made in the last several years. Some university health
plans now cover gender reassignment surgeries, including Harvard, Duke, Yale,
and Stanford. In May, the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF), an
organization that funds abortions for economically disadvantaged people, voted
unanimously to stop using the gendered pronouns she/her to refer to those who
get pregnant. Some people who identify as men can still bear children, and the
NYAAF realized that referring to them with female pronouns was exclusionary
and cisnormative (Goldberg 12). Additionally, the most widely watched Netflix
original series, Orange is the New Black, features a prominent trans character
who is played by Laverne Cox, a transwoman who is very influential in the

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transgender rights movement. Furthermore, President Obama has made some


significant changes in the laws for transgender community members. He is the
first president to mention the transgender community in a speech, he has
appointed transpeople to political positions, and he signed a hate crime
legislation that specifically protects transpeoplethe first president in history to
take actions of this kind (Leff).
Our society is headed in the right direction toward giving transpeople
equal protection under the law and accurate representation in the media. Much
work remains to be done, however. The transgender community still faces more
discrimination and violence than any other group of marginalized people, and we
can start to change that by teaching transgender in the literature classroom. Not
only can it help an ostracized group of people gain acceptance, transgender
theory can also help us understand ourselves and our world better. The best way
to prevent transphobia and discrimination is to increase awareness of these
issues, and integrating transgender study into college curriculums is the most
effective way to ensure that awareness is spread.
Just as African-American, woman, and other minority writers have not
reached full representation in the study of literature, it will take several years of
hard work to fully integrate trans lit into college (and high school) curriculums.
Crossing the line into teaching transgender can be difficult, but changes must be
made if the Ts in LGBTQ are to find acceptance and security in our society. We
must educate ourselves about the trans community and then spread that
knowledge to others. Educators have an obligation to spread mutual respect and
diversity. We must allow trans voices to be heard by encouraging them, accepting
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them, and supporting them. Changes must be made, and they can start in the
literature classroom.

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Works Cited

Barucco, Renato. "Transgender People: Strangers in Gay Land." The Huffington


Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 24 June 2014. Web. 22 Nov. 2014.
Beauchamp, Toby, and Benjamin D'Harlingue. "Beyond Additions and
Exceptions: The Category of Transgender and New Pedagogical
Approaches for Womens Studies." Feminist Formations 24.2 (2012): 25
51. Web.
Bettcher, Talia Mae. Trapped in the Wrong Theory: Rethinking Trans
Oppression and Resistance. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture &
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