Last week I was very privileged to sit in on Laura Budd’s Presentation on Assigned Sex. I really enjoyed her talk because she was very knowledgeable, open, and passionate about the topic. Hearing Laura’s story about transitioning from a male to a female was very intriguing and heart wrenching because of all she had gone through, but it was also very emotional because she had overcome a of of challenges with the government, strangers, friends, herself, and her family. Laura made a good point that when you are born with an assigned sex, most people assume that you will express and identify yourself as that sex, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes people feel like they should have been born as the other gender; this was Laura’s case. There were a lot of expectations on her when she was the only male in the family and she was expected to take care of the farm when she was growing up.

I found it interesting that gender is defined the ages of 3 and 5 and that your sexual attraction is defined around the ages of 13-18. For most people, it is easier to assimilate and try to fit into the gender norms, rather than being different. But I liked Laura’s approach with the presentation because she had many truthful quotes throughout her presentation. One of them said: “The biggest challenge of life is to be yourself in a world that is trying to make you like everyone else.” I also like the quote, “Never be defined by your past. It was just a lesson, not a life sentence.”

I appreciated the classroom application that Laura also brought into her presentation. She gave us all practical things we could do after hearing her speak. Here is her list:

  • Learn more about the lives of gender and sexually diverse people
  • Use affirming names and pronouns
  • Be kind and Friendly
  • Interrupt Prejudice
  • Know the language
  • Bring literature into the classroom that respects all students
  • Provide access to information to gender and sexually diverse people and topics
  • Strive for gender inclusivity
  • Love and respect all
  • Bring the lives of the gender and sexually diverse people to life in the classroom

At the end of Laura’s presentation she made a few other good points. “Don’t settle for anything other than respect. Everyone is worthy of love and respect, no matter how they express themselves. Most importantly, love and respect yourself for who you are, even if you look different to others.”

This is a great quote to wrap up the post. It pretty much sums up what we need to do now that we know more about the gender and sexual diversity that may be in our future classrooms.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

~ Maya Angelou