Does being transgender mean the same as being homosexual or gay? As more people are
identifying as transgender the topic becomes more complicated. The new book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, by author Laura Erickson-Schroth was written by and for transgender and gender-nonconforming people to explain the social, political, and medical issues they face.
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.
Excerpt: Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Modern Manual By And For Trans People–Erickson-Schroth-NPR
“… The new book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is a collection of essays describing the varied experiences of transgender people…The idea was inspired by the groundbreaking 1970s feminist health manual Our Bodies, Ourselves.
Erickson-Schroth is a fellow in public psychiatry and LGBT health at Columbia University Medical Center. She’s also a founding member of the Gender and Family Network of New York City. When she was in medical school at Dartmouth, she says, she met a lot of patients who were transgender. I started to see that there were some patterns — there were people talking about this disconnect between trans communities and providers.It’s worth noting that it didn’t seem that this was a word that people knew we needed for a while, Finney Boylan says.
She’s a professor of English at Colby College and the author of several books, including Stuck in the Middle with You: Parenthood in Three Genders. She is now a writer-in-residence at Barnard College…Gender nonconforming doesn’t mean that a person is transgender, so there’s a distinction there, but it’s very encompassing in terms of any child with any gender difference, whether that’s in their identity or in their expression…The question of surgery is an interesting one for a couple of other reasons. For one thing, it’s the thing that traditionally in the media always gets fixated on, the question of, Tell us about the surgery. What happens in the surgery? Have you had the surgery?
And transgender people have, for decades, offered up their most private selves as fodder for these kinds of interviews. … But we’re trying to get to a place now where when we talk about transgender people, it’s not a conversation about a trip to the doctor’s office. And, to some degree, what is private for everyone else ought to be private for us as well.”
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video clip.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Stimulating background knowledge
Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about transgender, and gay people. Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that might be connected to the article.Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board.
II. While Reading Tasks
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- The growing number of people who identify as transgender is raising.
- The new book is a collection of essays describing the varied experiences of transgender people.
- The idea was inspired by the groundbreaking 1970s feminist health manual Our Bodies, Ourselves.
- A book that was written by and for trans people about all aspects of life.
- I’m not sure whether that’s my innate sense of myself or my social experience.
- The language that I typically use is connected to the word transgender.
- That child’s gender is different than what society stereotypically expects.
- It’s a very encompassing term.
- At 9 years old I felt awkward wearing a dress.
- Estrogen had a profound effect on my body.
Directions: Review the following statements from the reading. If a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.
- The new book Trans Bodies,Trans Selves is about transgender people.
- The idea was inspired by the book Our Bodies, Ourselves.
- The book Our Bodies, Ourselves was put together by a group of doctors.
- Erickson-Schroth is a founding member of the Gender and Family Network of New York City.
- Many transgender people have surgery.
- The book only covers adults.
- Finney Boylan used to be a man.
- NA-Transgender people usually marry other transgender people.
- Hormones never affect transgender identities.
- There will be a movie based on this book.
Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- The new book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is a collection of essays describes the varied experiences of transgender people.
- Erickson-Schroth is a fellow in public psychiatry and LGBT health at Columbia University Medical Center.
- She’s also a founding member of the Gender and Family Network of New York City.
- There is relatively new language within the transgender community.
- She’s a professor of English at Colby College.
- She is now an writer-in-residence at Barnard College.
- The book cover all ages, including a chapter about gender-nonconforming children.
- Gender nonconforming doesn’t mean that a person is transgender.
- I did not want to be the mother or the wife.
III. Post Reading Tasks
Reading Comprehension Check
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.
1. Rephrase the following statements from the article in your own words and discuss their meaning with your group members.
“At 9 years old … this was a day I was attending church. … I felt so awkward and, frankly, exposed wearing a dress … At that moment, I understood clearly that I wanted to get married. I wanted to have a family. I did not want to be [the] mother. I did not want to be the wife. I wanted to be the father and the husband. I also knew at that very same instance that this was not something that I would articulate out loud to anyone else, including my closest friend, my twin sister. I already knew at 9 years old that there was no cultural context for this — that no one would understand.”
“When I was a guy, I’d wake up in the morning and I’d think, “Oh, my gosh, I’ve got to go through this again? I’ve got to put on this whole show.” And it was demeaning and exhausting most of the time.”
2. What are the most important elements from this article?
Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about transgender people from the reading, two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.