Trans issues

Recently, I’ve been thinking about dissertation topics in a more concrete way. Right now I’m thinking about examining the effect of drama-based instruction techniques in undergraduate foreign language courses on students’ transcultural competence, that is, their abilities to function across cultures. Specifically, I’d like to focus on students’ abilities to recognize their perspective from within their own cultural membership and to open themselves to the perspectives of people from cultures different than their own. While this may never result in complete understanding, empathy is an important trait of social interaction.

But I’ve also been thinking of another trans lately: transgender.

Ferran Esteve/ Flickr Creative Commons

Ferran Esteve/ Flickr Creative Commons


First, let’s talk terminology. To be transgender means that a person’s gender identity is different than the identity assigned at birth. Sexuality and anatomy are different issues. Gender/transgender refers to culture: social behaviors, identity and perceptions.

There was a Time Magazine cover recently titled “The Transgender Tipping Point: America’s next civil rights frontier”.  While the story by Katy Steinmetz was a balanced mix of background information, statistics, and stories about the experiences of a few diverse individuals, I found the most interesting quote to be a detail in parentheses: “(This article will use the names, nouns and pronouns preferred by individuals, in accordance with TIME’s style)”. That’s an important linguistic decision that shows respect and normalcy.

I too want to tell stories of three transgender women from my perspective as an outsider, a cis female. I offered to change their names to protect their privacy, but all three of these women gave me their explicit permission to use their real names. I like this, as I can write in greater detail without having to change their stories to protect their identities. Also, their willingness and relative nonchalance about being open indicates something good about the current state of US society.

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Life is fleeting. So are borrowed kitties.

This time of year, I usually reflect about life and death. The November 2nd accident that killed three people in my high school marching band was a formative experience in my teen years.

In undergrad, I used to send mass emails to my high school friends. It was a way to stay connected from Boston. As the years passed, the messenger changed to myspace and facebook. Last year, I blogged: Reflect, remember, recover.

This year, I remembered, but I didn’t write about it. For the first time in years. Not sure why. Maybe I’m entrenched in life and learning and playing.

But then, Max moved away.

Max, looking toward greener pastures?

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Writing Struggles

Last summer, I finally finished and submitted an essay (described in this post) to an anthology of stories by international educators. The editors didn’t accept my submission, but they were willing to reevaluate their decision if I made some changes that we had discussed during a summer writing workshop.

The deadline to resubmit was yesterday. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t change one word. Continue reading


For the past few years, I’ve been composing stories, essays, and articles in my head. Especially when I go to readings or poetry slams, or when Ashley finishes a new writing project, I always start thinking “yeah, I should write too”. But all that came out on paper has been of academic nature (see links). My narrative voice has been limited to facebook updates. It feels like those dreams where you are screaming, but no sound comes out. Continue reading