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thank you for this

Many props to the authors of this guide and to the Cocoon for posting this. It's quite inspiring. I hope it leads to more discussion of how to make our discipline more inclusive to trans, intersex, and nonbinary individuals, both in our research and in practice.

trans student

pray that people arent bigoted -- got it


One more anecdote in case anyone finds it helpful: I'm transfem and, despite hormones and my best efforts, don't pass at all. I felt forced to play things down. I used vague language in statements and visually presented as male. On a fly out, an interviewer asked what I had meant by what I said in a statement (in a fully supportive and welcoming way). In a panic, I became inarticulate to the point of dishonesty. Feeling guilty, I then sent an email after the interview, clumsily coming out to the interviewer. The exchange of emails that followed was awkward and put the interviewer in the position of worrying that they had acted inappropriately. (They had not.) "Playing things down" can lead to uncomfortable situations, unfortunately.

Other interviewers entirely ignored those vague comments in my statements. Some brought them up in roundabout ways or made comments I suspect were an implicit acknowledgement of them. I did eventually end up with a job in a progressive and welcoming place. So if like me, you felt you had to "play it down," things can still work out.

Cressida Heyes

Really appreciate you taking the time to put this together, as well as the "it depends" brief. I find a lot of "advice to job seekers" is so doctrinaire that it creates the illusion of control--as if you can manage the situation by doing the magically right thing--which tends to devolve ethical responsibility onto candidates and away from departments.

It's also a useful perspective for department chairs who are overseeing searches. Gonna try harder.

old trans academic

While I appreciate that some people are comfortable using the language of "coming out" and being "outed" when talking about disclosing a trans person's assigned-at-birth gender, for many of us, we are not "not out" or in any kind of closet by simply presenting as, and being received as, our gender. ("Disclosure" is language others, like myself, prefer.)

It seems being private (sometimes pejoratively described as "stealth") is a less popular choice among younger trans people, and it is certainly a privilege that not everyone can partake of, even if they wanted to.

I think this point is important because the laudable visibility of many trans people in society and in philosophy as a discipline may suggest that all trans people have the goal of being visibly and vocally "out" in that sense. For myself, I am out--as the gender I want the world to know me as. My birth gender is my business, no one else's.

I note this for search committee members and faculty members reading, to underscore again: do *not* assume knowledge you have of someone's gender history is information that they want you to share. Do *not* assume that a trans person who isn't sharing widely is "in the closet" and just needs encouragement to be open, or wants to be introduced to other trans people you know.

Also, don't assume people are cisgender or heterosexual. Because you never know.

trans grad student

Weird vibes above for sure

old trans academic

Weird comment above for sure.

The point is that discourse about being trans in philosophy naturally incorporates only the voice of people who are comfortable being open about their trans status.

Those of us who have chosen to be private have also opted out of that conversation. Fine. But as someone who has been on the job market while trans, and has a lot of experience which I can't share in publications or mentoring contexts, I'll just note that cisgender people take their cues from the most vocal in the profession. My comment was just to note that linguistic choices have implications, and "coming out" and "outing" are ambiguous, and people reading may not be aware.

If you don't believe an anonymous commenter, and want to hear from someone who is visibly trans, Lal Zimman, a linguist, has written about this: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lal-Zimman/publication/250015219_'The_other_kind_of_coming_out'_Transgender_people_and_the_coming_out_narrative_genre/links/589b45f4aca2721ae1b783a8/The-other-kind-of-coming-out-Transgender-people-and-the-coming-out-narrative-genre.pdf

old trans academic

Not sure how the trans grad student's "weird vibes" comment is supportive or helpful, or why it got approved and my response didn't (I assume/hope it's in spam?).

My point about "coming out language" is not new if you've been around trans discourse for a while, which I have been. And my point is that it's important for people reading who aren't familiar with the variety of ways to be trans (search committee members, well-meaning faculty members), to not to draw too-general inferences from a select group of voices (vocally out and visibly trans people). This is an important group, but not the only group of trans people in the academy.

Why does this matter for trans job seekers? In the advice above, the idea that someone might not want to be open at all doesn't seem to have struck any of the participants. What are the strategies for people who don't want to contact trans philosophers and conferences or join Facebook pages because to do so would be to require disclosure (or "outing" as you prefer)? While it's great that the advice notes that "transness does not have to be part of your philosophical work," it also does not have to be part of your public-facing identity, and this should not be interpreted as shame, deceptivness, or a lack of authenticity by cisgender or transgender people.

Marcus, if you're moderating and reading this, it'd be great to post my earlier comment instead of this one--or just delete the weird vibes comment? Feel free to email me at the email I've provided (the first one had at typo). I'll offer again to you that I would gladly mentor job seekers if my privacy can be preserved.

Marcus Arvan

Apologies for how long it has taken to get a few of these comments posted. They ended up in Typepad's "spam" folder, which I try to check several times a day--but I came across them just now.

Also, given that 'old trans academic' mentioned it, I agree that the "weird vibes" comment didn't seem particularly supportive or helpful, and think it might have been more helpful had commenter expressed what they took the weirdness to consist in and how to do better. So, I was a bit conflicted about approving the comment in the first place, qua the blog's mission. That being said, I generally try to avoid moderating with a heavy hand, as (all things being equal) I tend to think it is better to allow rather than preempt conversation, provided that the conversation does not plainly go "way over the line" (which was not obvious to me in the weird vibes comment).

Hopefully, in this case as in other similar ones, further discussion can be supportive and fruitful...

Perry Zurn

I take old trans academic's point that specific advice to folks who do not disclose their trans status would be really helpful in a document like this. I imagine we could do that in a revision that includes "anonymous coauthors." Please do reach out if you'd like to be a part of later versions! That said, I don't agree that "in the advice above, the idea that someone might not want to be open at all doesn't seem to have struck any of the participants." We did write, "Or you might not be out in any of these places or by any of these means."

Amy Marvin

Not sure if this helps the discussion, but I've lived much of my life not disclosing trans status and it mainly comes up for me because now I'm known for work on trans philosophy (so it's a big part of my research profile and unavoidable for the job market). In grad school I was on the fence about whether or not I even wanted to work on trans stuff, and I didn't say anything about being trans to my cohort until I was post-coursework. So I agree that experiences might look different for someone who doesn't disclose or who is 'visibly trans' but might not want that emphasized in a job search. Still, I suspect there are some useful affinities to consider.

I do think climate often continues to matter in these contexts (for example, what would happen if someone suspects something or you get outed unexpectedly? Will people mind their own business and be professional? What would navigating this place be like if you change your priorities?). This was at least important for me looking at grad schools.

I also think that the benefits side like health insurance access remains key to consider here. Health insurance access also extends beyond health insurance policies. Will the pharmacy in this city give you trouble about stocking HRT? Can you find a doctor who listens to you and gets you what you need and actually knows what they are doing? Does the health insurance cover what you need it to cover, especially care that you'll continue to need as you get older? Do you have any backup when someone institutionally blocks you? This of course varies based on medical needs, but it is one reason why location continues to matter quite a bit for me. I am contingent (VAP) though so I also make serious shifting compromises.

But obviously "trans" isn't a totalizing thing and people have different experiences and goals, etc. One thing that those of us who are framed as coming from the 'laudably visible' side could work on, for example, is how to include people who want to be private but also want to talk with someone. Sometimes this can be tricky with specific Internet architectures - Facebook, for example, is a place that is designed for anti-anonymity.

I also agree that search committees should make sure that if they do somehow have access to someone's trans status information, they should respect privacy - that is an interesting dimension to consider (but also unfortunately goes beyond the power of job seekers).

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