Abstract Sex, gender and sexuality are at the core of our identity as human persons. Genetics, environmental factors, and social conditioning all play a role in forming our identity, including our gender and sexuality. Some people, for reasons that are unexplained, experience an acute confusion about these aspects of their personal identity. Society, too, is in a state of confusion and controversy about non-conventional people among us. Teachers have an important role to play as their students and families experience these kinds of crises.
First, a few stereotypes • It’s not the case that transgenderism is necessarily linked to sexual orientation. The two are distinct issues. • It’s not the case that the affected individuals are only uneducated wackos that were previously the victims of abuse. (List here)
Two Main Controversies • How many people are transgender? • Any estimates, or guesses? • DSM-IV says • MtF 1:30,000 • FtM 1:100,000 • Lynn Conway, PhD says: • TREATED = 1:2500 • Untreated may be as high as 1:500 Numbers are important because they determine research interest and, of course, $$$.
Controversies, con’t • 2. Is it a “disorder”? • DSM-IV says “Gender Identity Disorder” characterized by strong and persistent cross-gender identification accompanied by persistent discomfort with one's assigned sex • “gender dysphoria” denotes strong and persistent feelings of discomfort with one's assigned sex, the desire to possess the body of the other sex, and the desire to be regarded by others as a member of the other sex
Controversies, con’t • Criteria for a diagnosis: • Evidence of a strong and persistent cross-gender identification • Persistent discomfort about one’s own assigned sex, or a sense of inappropriateness in the gender role of that sex • Cannot include concurrent intersex condition • Clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
Controversies, con’t B. It’s an identity issue, not a disorder • There is no demonstrable evidence that any psychotherapy of any kind allows people with GID to be happy not expressing it • It is a variance, not pathology • In many cultures, there is a range of gender roles, activities, expected behaviors (less true in US) • The stress and anxiety felt by transgender people often comes from external forces—societal discrimination
Why does this matter? • Creighton Prep’s Grad at Grad • Goal of Being Loving • Anecdotally, most transgender people feel and experience: • Loneliness and Depression • Thoughts of suicide • Lack of confidence • Few significant relationships • Discrimination, Hate Crimes, Civil Rights Violations
Why does this matter, con’t 3. Are you serious about educating the whole person (cura personalis)? • If you are, then you don’t get to pick and choose your students, or the aspects of your students’ lives that you want to deal with. • It is precisely in this messy and confusing area of life where students need both compassion and leadership.
What can we do about it? • First, distinguish two different teacher roles: • A mentor to individual students—be careful • Leader of the classroom—a step forward • L I S T E N (you’re probably not an expert) • In presenting the issue in class, use a case study approach
What can we do, con’t • Provide opportunities for reflection, both individually and communally • Make an effort to portray both the successes and struggles of people with this condition. • Realize that _?_ of your students are affected by this situation personally.
Conclusion • Gender identity is a controversial topic. • Gender identity issues are likely to be a significant issue for some. • How many exactly? Not sure. • Gender Identity issues often cause fragility and extreme upheaval in many aspects of life. • Teachers have the potential to make an impact, both positively and negatively.
References • American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., Text Revision). Washington D.C. • Conway, L. How frequently does transsexualism occur? Retrieved July 25, 2006, from http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/TSprevalence.html. • Jost, K. (2006, May 5). Transgender issues. CQ Researcher, 16, 385-408. Retrieved July 25, 2006, from CQ Researcher Online, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2006050500. • Kelly, M. (2005, July 17) Meet Meredith. Omaha World Herald, 1-2E. • Kelly, M. (2006, July 18) Gender change could test same-sex marriage ban. Omaha World Herald, 1B. • McHugh, P. (2004, November). Surgical sex. First Things, 147, 34-38. • Reicherzer, S. (2005). Coming out and living out across the life span. In D. Comstock (Ed.), Diversity and development: Critical contexts that shape our lives and relationships (pp. 161-184). Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole. • Reid, C. (2005, July 26). The new Dr. W.M. Bacon. The Gateway. Retrieved July 25, 2006 from http://www.unogateway.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2005/07/26/42e5e33c8ddcb