Coming out to professors as transgender

Even though I haven’t had a great deal of luck with my peers, I decided to ask my professors this semester to use my preferred pronouns. I think the reason I am telling my profs is because I respect them more than my peers. I have four profs – one I told last year.

One professor I’ve already had a class from so I decided that I would do it in person, instead of e-mailing. I hung around after class and asked a benign but necessary question about the class. Then I asked about the preferred pronouns. She said “yeah, I will… well, I can try.” I voiced my appreciation and said that know know it’s a bit difficult. Then she said, or I could just use your name. I couldn’t really talk right, I was stuttering over my words and was like, “yeah, that’s what some people do, it sounds good.” Basically, she said she would and walked out. I dunno if I expected her to ask me any questions. I guess I just didn’t expect it to be that nervewracking and I don’t know why I had to make it so awkward. I don’t know why I have to be such an awkward person, but I guess that’s just who I am. I regret not telling her sooner (I almost did last year) but I don’t even know how it would’ve gone. I trust her and look up to her, and I think when I don’t tell people sooner it tells them I don’t trust them offending them. That seems to happen a lot but it feels too vulnerable and obnoxious coming out to everyone that I know.

Anyway, to my other two professors, I sent e-mails. One I’d met briefly a few times before, and the other I hadn’t met at all.

I sent them this:

Hello Dr. ______,

I hope your holidays were wonderful and this year is starting off well for you.

I’m excited to be in your ________ class this semester!

I am writing to ask if you wouldn’t mind using male pronouns while referring to me in class and outside of class. I identify as male, rather than the female designation that shows on my records. It would meant a lot to me if you were willing to do this, and if you have any questions or want to talk further I’d be happy to. 

Take care,

Transiteration

My given name is gender neutral, so that’s why I didn’t make any mention of it.

I was nervous, but I sent them. The next day I got two replies!

Absolutely, and I think the whole class should be on board with this as well.  What you are asking is right and good.
See you in class.

and

Absolutely! I am pleased to honor your request.

I’ll see you tomorrow – have a great day!

I’m relieved. Sometimes it’s hard to deal with people messing up or not knowing the right pronouns, but if I have my professors on my side, things will be just that much better.

Did you ever come out to teachers or professors? How did you do it? I still feel bad about not coming out to other professors in the science department, as if I’ll offend them also for not trusting them, but telling some professors. How do you know when the right time is to come out?

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4 Comments

Filed under trans/lgbt stuff

4 responses to “Coming out to professors as transgender

  1. I don’t think you’d need to worry about offending professors too much… I’ll bet they realize it’s a personal choice that has to do with your own comfort levels and isn’t really about whether or not you trust them. Keep on going at your own pace!

  2. Awesome! Glad it went so well.

    I had about a couple of semesters between starting transition and legally changing my name. I took the same approach you did, and it went very well. Since professors are the authorities in class, their behavior serves as a guide for everyone else. If the professor addresses you a certain way, students are more likely to do so as well. I hope having the professors in your court will help bring your classmates around.

    I second janitorqueer that you don’t need to worry about offending people. You’re not obliged to disclose to anyone, and you have every right to come out in your own time.

    • Thanks, me too. I’m glad that approach worked for you. I think professors are generally progressive, even more so than students, since they’ve been in the college/academic atmosphere for longer.

      I’m also hopeful that it will help people come around. I have about 5 semesters left before I can start T, so I’m hopeful this’ll make things easier.

      And thanks for assuaging my fears. Sometimes I worry too much.

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