Inclusive Teaching and Learning at Higher Education: GENDER #3

Pay it No Mind- The life and times of Marsha P. Johnson:

The life and times of Marsha P Johnson seem to summarize the subject of patriarchy and its damaging effect. Watching the film I discovered how positive, tenacious and determined Marsha P Johnson was despite physical and psychological abuse. During a heightened time civil rights movement Johnson intersected boundaries of race, sex, class and religion. Such historical characters as Marsha P Johnson through their lives of discrimination, abuse and struggle paved the way for those that are marginalised by the acts of prejudice derived from the acts of patriarchy. How tough it would have been for a black transgender to be so vocal (visually and verbally) during that turbulent time of the late 60’s and 70’s? The film reveals the hostility, torture and the effects it had on Johnson’s well-being and mental health. But then the interview showed the mental strength, awareness and insight Johnson had to be such a pioneering activist by nature. Her performance and poetry was inspiring. Watching the film, I made ‘coincidental’ connections to Marsha P Johnson in my review of the supporting trans students UAL website and selection of artist Andrea Bowers.  Beforehand, I was unaware Johnson, a black advocate for gay rights and social justice for street dwellers and teenage runaways that she mentored.  Neither the fact that Johnson was a co-founder of Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR), was depicted by Andy Warhol artwork and had such powerful prominence to be sadly taken away by her tragic death. Questions that surrounds her death has been highlighted by gay rights activists as the violence against transgender women.

Inclusive Teaching and Learning at Higher Education: GENDER #1

Gender Diversity at UAL website

How could you apply the resources to your own teaching practice?
Initially, I thought there was not much immediate information on how to support transgender students on this web resource page. The information is directed elsewhere to either a designated member of staff to press further enquiries or a website to outside agency that offer training in this area. Other than a list of Gender Neutral toilets the rest seems to be left up to one’s own initiative to seek guidance and training in this area and to conduct one’s own research to support their students. However, spending time going through the website and particularly ‘Understanding gender diversity’ on the site there are useful articles and links to be passed on to students.

With the insight and awareness to consider people’s feelings. Mindful of how students are addressed and address each other in order to promote an environment where students are at ease. Also, the security for students to voice their thoughts and feelings.

Therefore from the beginning (the induction), I would make students aware that there is no place for prejudice and discrimination of any kind. The video ‘Things Not To Say To A Trans Person’ is a very helpful introduction to address this issue.

Practical ways are to use the links and the information on the site to support and direct students. As a teacher, member of staff, ensure that students are aware of the facilities and support that is available to them and not to single anyone out. To be open approachable and empathic, that students feel reassured to discuss personal matters in confidence. Essentially to address and treat all equally.

The resources can be used as research tools to help plan activities that generate open discussion.  Some of the articles, videos and links provided online would be a good introduction to a project that addresses these issues. So going back to my initial thoughts it’s a case of developing an initiative to seek to understand through one’s own research.

How could you integrate the research/work your students do on this subject into your teaching/professional practice? 

By having discussion, communication and reference.
Visual art is a platform for communication that imparts information and message that can read universally. Where possible I  utilise acquired skills in my art and graphic design practice. Use elements of visual communication to provide a space for storytelling, conversation, poetry. The research work students do would be through observations and analysis of the world around them. Respond to current affairs and the work of relevant artists. Invite someone to provide a workshop or talk that relates to their personal experience of being Transgender.

: 14 artists create a platform for visibility and an archive of resistance within queer, trans* and gender non-conforming Muslim communities.

The above links can be good reference points for observational study and analysis.

Can you cite examples? 
You will share your thoughts within your groups and comment and share further resources you use in your own context.

Andrea Bowers

Could be a starting point for a topical project. A portrait springs to mind but not necessarily figurative.

Other thoughts brainstorming ideas
Perhaps as an Introduction/ icebreakers starter project, to have students could make something collaboratively.

A study of everyday household objects that have suggested gender roles and attributes but change its features.
Build a flat pack chest of draws, dressing table with mirror. what would go in it? How would it be decorated – a form of a portrait?
Design a universal toilet Lid or no lid. Low or high (refer to Duchamp in term of change and public perception).
Designs on toilet paper

Learning through creative play. Association of familiar, objects, colours (pink Blue, Black and white) and words. Use of language and words and the effect of its repetition.