Understanding cis-normativity in higher education classrooms
Summary, in English
Swedish universities are bound by the antidiscrimination act to promote equal learning opportunities for all, irrespective of gender identity and expression. It is thus worrying that The Swedish Federation of LGBTQIA+ Student Organization reports that everyday communication and administrative frameworks based on gender binary assumptions are central problems for students (Lundin, Strömberg, & Araya, 2015). Similar tendencies have been identified in in the governmental report "Transpersoner i Sverige: Förslag för stärkt ställning och bättre levnadsvillkor" (SOU 2017:92: Westerlund, Akleye, & Larsson, 2017).This presentation offers theoretical insights, as well as hands on advice and examples from classroom situations and educational dilemmas that we hope could function as an introductory guide and thinking tool in relation to how we as university teachers can be part of making education more accessible to transgender-, nonbinary- and intersex students.Cisnormativity as a theoretical concept comes from the latin word cis, which means "on the same side", and is a way of explicating the widely spread power structure that sorts all bodies (both human and more than human) into terms of (for example) either normal / desirable / healthy / real / cis and abnormal / inappropriate / pathological / imagined / trans/intersex (Enke, 2013; Nord, Bremer, & Alm, 2016). It also refers to the generally presumed idea that a person’s body, birth assigned sex, legal sex, gender identity, gender pronouns, personal names, gender expressions, reproduction, and kinship always point in the same direction - unequivocally coded as masculine or feminine - in a straight line under a whole life cycle.How do these cis-norms inform and interact with our work in the classroom in different ways depending disciplinary context? How can we engage with situations when cis-norms become tangible during teaching? Drawing on international research in the fields of trans and intersex education studies, as well our own teaching experience and different research backgrounds within trans studies, we want to open up a conversation about the pedagogical and intellectual possibilities awareness of cis-norms in our classrooms can bring (Nicolazzo, 2017).