The medical student who became the first person to use the trans-inclusive pronouns of “they” and “him” in a class assignment at the University of Texas at Austin says she’s “not a slave” to her gender identity and is glad that “everyone can be who they are.”
Dr. JoAnn Naylor says she was the first student to use gender-neutral pronouns in a medical school assignment at UT Austin in March.
She says she did not feel comfortable in the assignment and did not like to think about it.
She was working on her M.D. thesis and needed to write a section on transgender issues, and when she heard about the assignment she was so excited she thought it was a great opportunity for someone who is not comfortable with her gender to be able to talk about it with someone who wasn’t comfortable with it.
“I really thought, ‘Well, I can do this, I am a student and I want to do this,'” she told CNN.
“So, I went through my notes, I wrote down my thoughts about it and I came up with my answer.
And so, I had a lot of confidence in myself.”
Naylor says in a statement, “I do not believe it is right to dictate a student’s identity, and that is not my goal at UT-Austin.
In fact, I believe it can be harmful for students to think they are a victim of oppression or have a privileged view of others based on who they identify as.”
Neely has been working at UTAs medical school since 2006, and she says the assignment was her first exposure to gender-inclusivity.
She believes it opened her eyes to the fact that people of different genders and gender identities could be treated differently.
“It’s a really important issue, and I hope it can help me to open myself up to other perspectives that are not necessarily a binary or a binary system,” she said.
Neely said she felt “really excited and excited to be in that assignment because it was my first time to use a word that was gender-specific.”
She was surprised to learn that in the same assignment, the medical student could be assigned male or female pronouns.
She said that she felt she “had to be careful about what I said and not to get too caught up in the details of the assignment, but I felt like I needed to tell the whole story.”
The assignment was about a group of doctors, nurses and medical students who were in a group discussion about transgender issues.
In it, the students were discussing how they had come to identify as transgender.
“It was a really open and honest discussion and I really felt like the students could tell their own stories,” she told the news outlet.
Naylor said she has been practicing in the field of gender-diverse medicine since 2004.
She said she is proud of the work she’s done in the past and the positive effects of her work on her patients.
“The more I have learned about the experiences of transgender people and how we are able to be treated for those conditions, I think the more I feel like it is something that we can all do and not have to feel like we’re a second class citizen,” she added.
Neeley says she thinks her students “have a lot to gain” from this assignment.
“This was the most difficult assignment of my career and I felt I needed that to help me feel better,” she says.
“The fact that we’re able to put a person in a position where they can say, ‘I’m not a member of that group and I don’t think that’s appropriate,’ is so important.”
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