24. Being a Trans Professor

My First Round of Course Evaluations

OK, so I was worried — legitimately, I think — about how students would respond to my teaching last term, particularly since I 1) came out them as trans and 2) went through the visual transition in front of their eyes over the course of the months of the term. I've written about my coming out experiences to my classes in an earlier post and about my teaching experience explicitly covering trans issues in my business ethics course in another post.

metamorphosis_professor.pngI had taught both courses before, and the one course twice. The former was a small intro course (40 students), the latter was a large 3hr business ethics course (120 students). I didn't touch on trans issues at all in my intro course, but I did spend one lecture (a week's worth) on trans issues and the "bathroom" issue. I expected that there would be some blowback both about being trans and telling my class, and from teaching about it.

Well, I just got the course evaluations back, and received my highest marks yet. Moreover, the "What is your overall impression of the professor" was 4.65 and 4.74 (out of 5). They gave me an aggregate 4.42 for the intro course, and 4.54 for the business ethics class. This was up from 4.17 last time with what is essentially the same course.

I conjectured at the beginning of the term that I'm a better teacher now because I'm much more comfortable and "free" to just be myself. I think that I have some evidence now: the students responded really well.

There was only ONE negative evaluation (all 1's) with comments using the wrong pronouns: "The prof scared me as he was preoccupied with his sexuality." It's probably a safe bet that this was the student who's review on Rate My Prof I had to have removed for being transphobic. Overall, four used the wrong pronouns, and only two were negative. However, there were MANY very positive (best prof ever, this prof should be tenured *hint hint*, created a very inclusive class, etc.) comments that more than outweigh the rare negative ones.

I'm super happy. 🙂

Yours truly,