Tillett Wright is an activist, speaker, writer, photographer. In her TedxWomen talk "Fifty Shades of Gay" (which I found both captivating and fascinating), Wright brings up her childhood, and the notion that we, immediately upon meeting people, put them into "boxes" because acceptance means there is some sort of bonding going on. She then talks about how these boxes are both limiting and dangerous - and I wonder if our students feel that way when asked to try and define themselves. Perhaps we put too much emphasis on "finding oneself" or "discovering who you are" when instead we should be focused on "try it on" and "see how you feel." Most importantly, Wright talks about the support she had from her parents no matter who or what she decided to wake up and be - she "wasn't asked to define [herself] at any point, just allowed to be." She then felt this weird shift when asked to pick a side - boy or girl, gay or straight. She said she knew deep down that she was none of those things definitively, and because of that, she "fell between the cracks."
How many of our students are "between the cracks" right now, especially at a time when labeling or defining oneself as "gay" or "transgender" can be seen as a heroic act of courage. What about those students that truly don't know what or who they are, and don't feel like they should have to decide one or the other, but are being asked to do so? I know we have talked about the genderbread person, and the masculinity/femininity spectrum....but why should our students have to pinpoint exactly where they fall? I think our fight needs to be redefined and fully understood in this way: "Gender identity work in our schools is the work of freedom fighting. It is a fight for the freeing of authentic expression, for the full presentation of all our students. It is the fight to help our students be fully present as learners, as classmates, as the people they see themselves to be" (115).