September 21, 2014

What is the Teacher’s Name?

I am getting nervous about tomorrow. It is my first day in front on a classroom since leaving my old school and my first day in front of a classroom as myself. I need this job and I need this moment. I have a lot riding on the hour and forty minutes I spend in front of that class tomorrow!

Things were not helped by finding out on Thursday that the IT department at the school could not (or would not) accommodate my request to base my school email address on my real name instead of my legal name. While they “masked” things such that my name will appear in the TO: line instead of my address, the email address itself is built on my old name. Added to that, anything the students access in the online network, like class schedules, will have my old name on them.

This has been causing me no small amount of anxiety and dysphoria this weekend. My hope had been to go into this job with no connection to Him. I don’t want the students to know my old name. I don’t even want them to know my old initial! There’s a horrible belief in the world that a trans person’s birth name is their “real” name. I am already going into that classroom with the expectation that some students may take issue with my gender identity; if they have access to my legal name it gives them more reason to see my real identity as illegitimate.

I can’t give an inch on this. The students will have to respect who I am or I will not have them in my classroom. That is my right. I don’t need their permission to be me!

But if I cause a stir, I’m afraid they’ll use it as an excuse to dismiss me from the classroom. I can’t have that. I need this job.

The college says that there’s nothing it can do so long as my legal name in the system is still there, but I’m suspicious of that answer. I worked at my old school for a decade and saw multiple instances where the name on the class list was not the name on file — for example, when some women were married and changed their legal names but still chose to teach professionally under their maiden names. I’m disappointed that this college lacks a clear policy for integrating transgender employees

This isn’t going to derail my first day. I won’t let it. But I think I’m going to have to break out the anxiety pills to sleep tonight, and I haven’t had to do that in a couple of months.

I’ll write about the first day after class.

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