One benefit writing courses have in participating and allowing for the visibility–and representation– of gender non-conforming and transgender identities is that analyzing and discussing language and how it transforms given social, political, economic, and cultural contexts is (most often) already a part of the curriculum. In this post, I want to share examples of short and accessible readings that represent gender non-conforming identities that may be brought into the FYC classroom.
Example 1: The use of singular “they” may be a starting point for discussing how words and their meaning shift and transform as they circulate within our social worlds. One activities that could help to foster this discussion is bringing in several style guides from across decades and analyzing how the rules and description of pronoun agreement have shifted. This also opens up conversations about how language conventions (even our grammar rules) are always changing and never static.
Example 2: In my own classroom this semester we analyzed the short webtext “I Heart the Singular I” in order to introduce the concept of multimodal rhetorical analysis. Students noted how the welcoming, friendly, almost child-like nature of this text may help to persuade those who are resistant to accepting singular “they” pronoun identities. Eventually this led to questions like: who may be resistant to the singular they and why? Who is in charge of what we decide is a language rule? What problems or confusion may the singular “they” cause? How does the webtext work to resolve those problems?
Example 3: And if you are working with visual texts, Autostraddle’s “Drawn to Comics” series may be a useful resource for discovering comics that include gender non-conforming identities.
And that’s it for this series! (at least for now)