48. Apparently It Just Doesn’t Stop

Continuing Mispronouning Even After I Leave

I've written in a bunch of posts how bad things got during the year following my transition at my previous department (from which I obtained my PhD). It took the bulk of the faculty (the grad students seemed to do much better) months, well over three months, to start consistently using the right name and pronouns for me. I was very patient–overly so, I think–and polite whenever someone made an error. But after six months, I started losing patience. Fortunately, only one person was continuing to mispronoun me with any regularity, and even then it was no more frequent than once ever week or two.

Metamorpho-sis_ready_to_fight.pngBut I just heard something pretty upsetting. I took a course from someone during my PhD who during my final year of my PhD went on sabbatical. He was outside the country and even took an additional year off away. So he wasn't around for any of my transition, and I had left before he returned, asI spent a year as a sessional instructor after my PhD before leaving for my current position. However, he would have been sent the relevant email about my transition. Also, my transition wouldn't have been any secret.

Well, today I find out from someone that at a departmental social gathering a few weeks ago, in conversation about the topic of a blog post I had recently written (under my real name, not the pseudonym I use here), the following happened.

Jerk associate professor: "Huh? What's that (the topic of my post)?"

My friend pulled up the blog post and said that it was written by [Philosochick].

J: "Huh? Who's [Philosochick]?"

Friend: "She was teaching here not that long ago, and did her Ph.D. here, too."

J: Blank stare, and then he said, "Oh, yeah! [Philoschick's pre-transition name]."

F: "No, her name is [Philosochick].

J: "Well, he was still [Philosochick's pre-transition name] when I knew him." And he laughed it off.

F: "That's not her name."

Jerk gave F a look and said something to the effect, "Well good for you anyway for being an activist," in his a condescending tone.

Honestly, I'm at the point of naming and shaming people. I'm so sick of how I was treated (mis-naming, mispronouning, gaslighting, and now this), and I've moved on both physically, emotionally, and in terms of my career. However, I worry about potential retaliation against my friend, so I won't name the Jerk in this case. There's already enough potentially identifying information in my post.

What's impressive, I think, is that F responded exactly as they should have. Not only did they correct Jerk twice, but they were very clear. At most, all that they could have done more was to explicitly point out that what Jerk was doing was not only offensive to them, but to me too. But there's a power differential between the two of them, and F is in the less powerful position.

But Jerk's behaviour is completely inexcusable. It's harassment. He's lucky I'm not still around to file an official complaint. I was in a hostile work environment when I left, and part of me regrets not initiating proceedings. But I was talked out of it (one conversation bordered on implicitly threatening me, although it was most likely just an honest warning about what might happen if I moved it forward).

Oh, and this is from a department that considers itself *good* on diversity issues, including queer issues. I bet it would shock them to know that I've had conversations with past grad students who were afraid to come out while there. Yep, because they had the good sense to notice that it wasn't really a welcoming atmosphere, even if they say it is, and even if they like to think it is.

Just dropping some truth bombs.

Yours truly,
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