13 April 2011

Tranny Baiting

Yesterday I had one of those classes that made me wish I'd gone into business or something rather than education. 

I was showing a film version of Shakespeare's Othello, the Moor of Venice.  The class in which I showed it consists mainly of freshmen, the majority of whom are at or near the "traditional" age for students in their first year of college.  So, as you might expect, there are some who are very, very immature.

One of them showed up after missing more than a month's worth of classes.  Worse, she is one of those students who wants her instructors to "freeze" the class to bring her up to speed.  Worse yet, she hadn't read any of the play and insisted on sitting next to me and asking me to explain the play, characters and story.  

The cynic in me says that her claimed disabilities aren't real, and that she's using her claim to them so that her professors don't demand of her what they demand of other students.  I've had other disabled students, and none had the sense of entitlement she seems to have. 

And then there's a group that sits in one part of the room.  They are the most immature ones of all--though, I must say, one of them is very smart and would be even more so if he weren't always trying to sound smart.

Again, he's not the first student of that type I've had.  What I find troubling is that he and a friend (who was absent) are trying to bait me. Or, that's how I feel anyway.  They're gay, and though they'd turn purple with rage if anyone "outed" them, that's what they're trying to do to me.  They seem to be the sorts of gay men who think that all transwomen need are good boyfriends (like themselves) to disabuse us of the notion that we have of ourselves.  

How do I know?  I've run into that kind of man before.  In fact, one of them used to make jokes that would get a guy fired in another workplace. But this guy was a prof with tenure at a college in which I worked before my current schools.

Yesterday's class was at my "second" job.  I haven't talked publicly about my history and identity because, well, I got tired of doing so at my other job.  Also, I find that the very same people who encourage me to talk about those things, and to lead workshops on gender identity or some such thing, are the very same people who will use the fact that I'm talking about those things against me.  

I have to admit, though, that the class--and I--couldn't help but notice that one of those guys was eager to play Desdemona when we read two scenes aloud.  Some in the class giggled; I wanted to either use it as a "teaching moment" to reiterate something I'd said earlier about English theatre in Shakespeare's time--namely, that there were no actresses and the female parts were played by boys--or to take that young man aside and ask him something like "What's Up With That?"

I just might ask him that tomorrow.