Your Name Is Set(h) In Stone

, , , , , | Learning | May 25, 2018

(My son has a name which is uncommon but by no means unheard of. After his first day at a school the teacher calls me into the classroom for a chat.)

Teacher: “Hi, Ms. [My Name]. I just wondered if we could discuss your child for a moment.”

Me: “Ah, sure.” *a bit concerned*

Teacher: “We just want you to know that we want to support them in any way we can and if you need anything let us know.”

(I’m happy to hear this, but also slightly confused since I have a perfectly happy, healthy thirteen-year-old.)

Teacher: “If, for example, they feel they need to talk to a counsellor, or if they feel they are unable to express themselves, we just want them to know this is a safe space where they can do that.”

(Now I’m seriously baffled.)

Me: “Sorry, I think I’m missing something here; what exactly do you think my son needs counselling for?”

(The teacher gives me a disapproving glare.)

Teacher: “Ms. [My Name], you are showing enormous disrespect to your child by not using their preferred pronouns.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but my son has never mentioned anything about using different pronouns.”

Teacher: “How can you be paying so little attention to your child? They clearly have gender dysphoria!”

Me: “Okay, whoa. My son and I have discussed gender and sexual identity plenty, and he has told me time and again he is an ally of the LGBTQ community, but he is a straight male and he is very happy.”

Teacher: *with a smug face* “Then how do you explain this?”

(With a painfully-practiced flourish, she flips a worksheet onto the desk in front of me. It’s an “About Me” first-day type deal. My son has written his name, birthday, hobbies, what he wants to be when he grows up, etc. There is nothing here that would make anyone think he has gender dysphoria or needs to see a counsellor.)

Me: “Sorry, this is meant to be proof of what?”

Teacher: “Look at the name! They have signed with their preferred name, Beth! Clearly your child is transgender.”

Me: “Oh, Christ alive, his name is Seth! He just has cursive handwriting.”

Teacher: “That’s not a name! You are denying your daughter’s existence. You’re misgendering her! This is erasure!”

Me: “Look. You are misgendering him. My son is named Seth, after the Ancient Egyptian god of chaos. He should fit right in in your class.”

(I’ve had enough and leave the room with the teacher still screaming about trans erasure and how Seth isn’t a real name. I leave the school and get into the car, where my worried son is waiting to hear what he got into trouble for.)

Me: “Well, darling, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that your teacher is incredibly supportive and accepting of LGBTQ students. The bad news is that she refuses to acknowledge your name.”

Son: “Okay… But we’re good? I’m good?”

Me: “Honey, you will always be good with me, whether you’re Seth, Beth, or Slartibartfast.”

(His first term assignment was to present a project on a god who is no longer worshipped… Guess who he picked!)

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