Supporting Trans Students – Blog
It is clear from studying UAL’s Gender Diversity website that the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community are not talked about or understood well enough. The various articles emphasise the importance of using conversation and dialogue as a tool to educate. Such dialogue can benefit the staff as well as the students, making the university environment more inclusive to everyone. I believe I could use the website as an invaluable tool in my own teaching practice. Firstly by informing LGBTQ+ students of the help, support and communities available at UAL and secondly as a means to educate all students on the correct terminology and pronouns used when interacting with their peers. If indeed all students read the resources it would encourage positive conversation and a healthy understanding of an often overlooked topic.
Pay It No Mind – The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson – Video
This video of interviews gives a brief insight into the life of Marsha P Johnson, an activist trans woman who struggled to be accepted for who she was, and throughout her life showed huge courage and kindness to those she encountered. Today programmes such as Ru Paul’s Drag Race highlight how far modern society’s perception of drag queens has changed, from persecuted to celebrated. Unfortunately, prejudice still exists in some communities, but certainly far less than in previous decades, thanks in part to people such as Marsha P. Johnson who was not afraid to challenge our perceptions through the way she lived her life.
I likened Marsha P. Johnson’s struggles to the artist and activist Keith Haring. Best known for his graffiti art in New York, his later work often addressed political and social themes especially homosexuality and AIDS. Nowadays Haring’s work is mainstream, popular and often imitated, although the core themes often ignored. Recently the clothing brand Uniqlo collaborating with the Museum of Modern Art in New York to produce a collection of Keith Haring apparel. The description on the Uniqlo website makes no mention of Haring’s foundation supporting young people with AIDS/HIV or the gay rights activism he was so heavily involved with.
Understanding Patriarchy, bell hook – Read.
The first and most striking message I took from this text is the notion that women are as prominent in creating patriarchal roles in the family home as men. Hooks talk about her experience of patriarchy in her home via violence from her father, she explains how her mother enforced these roles by complying and accepting his role of power. Hooks also highlights how boys that come from single-mum homes are just as likely to be taught patriarchal roles from their mothers as ‘women in such households are far more likely to idealize the patriarchal male role and patriarchal men than women who live with patriarchal men every day’. She explains that is it unwise to put the sole blame on men, this will not help rid us of patriarchy, ‘Separatist ideology encourages women to ignore the negative impact of sexism on male personhood. It stresses polarization between the sexes.’
Following on from this theme, the second message I identified within the text is the idea that men are also victims of patriarchy. Men’s inability to express emotion is increasingly mentioned in current affairs. Samaritans statistics show the highest suicide rate in the UK in 2017 was men aged 40–44. In Understanding Patriarchy hook argues that patriarchal roles have made the show of venerable emotion a sign of weakness and lack of power. She recalls her brother being ‘taught that a boy should not express feelings’ from a young age. Then, in adult life hook talks of her friends’ need to conform to patriarchal roles in order to be ‘noticed and valued’.
Including these themes in my own teaching practice – a brief
A great way to get students engaged and aware of a certain subject matter is to create a brief surrounding that topic. Providing students with a challenge can encourage a reaction where a lecture or presentation might not. The three resources in this reflective blog cover a variety of gender issues and could be used as starting points for a research-led project. Students could be tasked with creating a visual response to one of the three resources. The current student that I support is on Illustration and visual media at LCC, with him in mind this could be anything from designing a new book cover to making an animated interpretation of one of the themes.
Being tasked with creating a visual response means students are challenged to truly analyse and draw their own conclusions. This process of research and interpretation is an important part of higher education in art and design, it is crucial that students learn the skill of critical thinking and analysis. Tutorials and critiques on the work would then provide a comfortable environment within which a conversation that some individuals may find difficult to discuss can take place. Facilitating a conversation also provides an opportunity for students to inform their peers of any gender preferences they may have.
I was conscious of using the correct terminology whilst writing this piece. Even after researching and educating myself of the correct pronouns and phrases I still found it difficult. I apologise in advance if my text contains any errors and would greatly appreciate any feedback.