Friday, March 30, 2018

Gender in the Autism Classroom

I teach middle school, so it’s probably unsurprising that I have had many students over the years who “like young pretty girls” and show it through their behavior. While I’m no longer a young teacher, and I’ve never dressed particularly effeminate, I’ve always looked younger than I am. And none of those students have ever had those issues with me. In general, I’ve always been able to work with the students who have sexual issues around females. Partly, this is because the behavior just doesn’t bother me, but partly its because they don’t generally exhibit those behaviors toward me. For whatever reason, I don’t trigger “pretty girl” to them.

You see, I present as female. A short, rather busty, female at that. I use she/her pronouns because they match my physical presentation and are really the only ones that make sense to me. But I’m agender. The whole concept of gender and gender distinctions really makes no sense to me. And, it seems, my students can tell.

One of my students this year is constantly labeling people (especially girls.) And for the first part of the year he kept asking me “girl?” (He wasn’t doing this to any of his other teachers.) And I kept saying “yes” because well, it seemed the simplest answer. But he kept asking. Finally, I changed my answer to “sometimes, on alternate Tuesdays when there is a blue moon.” And he hasn’t asked me since. He knew. I think all my kids have known. It’s why I’ve always been their exception to the gender rules around their sexual behavior. Because, somehow, they can tell my gender doesn’t follow those rules.

It’s just another of those things parents/teachers/professionals tend to assume our students “aren’t aware of.” My experience says they’re usually more aware than anyone else around.

No comments:

Post a Comment