Tag Archives: gender

Staff Editorial

Staff Editorial: Genders Just Wanna Have Fun!

Facebook sets the stage for gender inclusion

This month, Facebook added over 50 new gender options and by doing so, changed the way people have been forced to identify themselves on social media for the past ten years. Users will no longer be forced to conform to the gender binary of male and female. All one needs to do now is customize their gender, and Facebook will offer the multitude of options — including cis(gender), gender fluid, transsexual, and neither — in a drop-down menu. Not just that, Facebook users will now be given the choice to publicize their preferred pronoun for those who are not already aware. At the Foghorn office, we find this move to be progressive and a much-needed acknowledgement of the diverse range of genders on a widely used online platform by all generations.


This month, Facebook added over 50 new gender options and by doing so, changed the way people have been forced to identify themselves on social media for the past ten years.

This shift in Facebook settings triggered a media circus. Bloggers and news sources took it upon themselves to identify all 56 new, gender options for those who were confused or unaware that there were so many ways one could identify; and the likes of Stephen Colbert interviewed acclaimed transsexual author and activist, Janet Mock.

Daniela Ricci, former Editor-in-chief of the Foghorn, identifies themself as genderqueer, and says “I’ve seen a lot of backlash from people who have never heard of non-binary gender identities before and consider it freakish, unnecessary, annoying, etc., which just goes to show that just because something is on Facebook, doesn’t make it automatically socially acceptable. I’ve also heard people in the queer community scoff at it and consider it a relatively meaningless action… I don’t think it’s revolutionary or anything, but I do think it’s a small step in the right direction of normalizing queer identities and making people like me feel as though there is a place for us in society.”

Users will no longer be forced to conform to the gender binary of male and female.

The fact is that while this change is a move forward, it comes with its own murky territory. Those who are unwilling to learn about gender and sex might alienate those who have decided to make known their gender identification. And there is no denying that others might abuse this new feature, thinking it as funny as getting creative with the ‘religious views’ and ‘political views’ section. This only means that we must take advantage of the timeliness of this Facebook move and push for more awareness and education of the struggles of those who affiliate with a multitude genders and sexes.

For more resources and educational material on related topics, please contact the USF Gender and Sexuality Center in UC 412, or email at gsc@usfca.edu.


Staff Editorial: Let’s Talk About Gender Pronouns

Sasha Fleishman’s skirt was set on fire last Monday on an AC Transit Bus in Oakland. According to police, the 16-year-old assailant, Richard Thomas, was motivated by homophobia (and transphobia). Thomas will be tried as an adult for aggravated mayhem and felony assault with hate crime enhancements. Fleishman identifies as agender, meaning neither as male or female.  The victim was hospitalized with second- and third-degree burns.

This piece began as a story for the news section, but while researching this tragic incident, something became very clear to the Foghorn staff: The media often does not know how to deal with proper pronouns when reporting on transgender, transsexual, and genderqueer individuals.

CBS News called the victim “Luke Fleishman, who also goes by the name Sasha.” The Huffington Post confidently used the gender pronouns “he” and “his” while noting that its journalists were taking the victim’s mother’s lead on using male pronouns. Sasha Fleishman is 18 years of age – an adult. Is it right to take the victim’s mother’s lead on this? Luke Fleishman is the victim’s given name, but classmates indicate that Fleishman prefers Sasha.

“We are stuck in a binary of man and woman, and there is not a lot of knowledge in between,” said Alejandro Covarrubias, Assistant Director of the Cultural Centers at USF. “Reporters are generally writing for an audience who isn’t familiar with anything in between.”

At the Foghorn, our writers usually find a source, get their name, hear their voice over the telephone, see a photograph of them online, and make an assumption about their gender. We are not saying whether this is right or wrong, but we are asking: Is it time to deconstruct gender binaries in the media?

The Gender and Sexuality Center’s (GSC) protocol at most events and programs is to ask participants about their major/minor as well as their preferred name and gender pronoun. Convarrubias said that they think it is best to let the person in question take the lead. But what if the person in question is unavailable, lying in a hospital bed with third-degree burns like Sasha Fleishman?

We spoke to Professor Barker-Plummer, the chair of the Media Studies department, who teaches “Gender and Media” at USF. She said her way of writing and talking about non-binary or non-conforming gender has involved using “s/he” and “hir,” along with neutral nouns such as “young person” and the subject’s last name. For example: “The young person [or Fleishman], who identifies as gender neutral, was set on fire while s/he was sleeping.”

National Public Radio (NPR) reported on April 24, 2013 that a teacher studied a group of middle and high school students in Baltimore that were using “yo” to replace “he” and “she.” The former Baltimore-area teacher found that these teens used “yo” instead of “he” or “she” when they did not know the gender of the person, and sometimes even when they did know the gender.

Covarrubias explained that some gender-neutral pronouns come from different linguistics departments and other academically grounded sources that aren’t accessible to certain youth that identifies as transgender or agender.

“If we all used gender-neutral pronouns all the time, it would help undermine a lot of stereotypes, not just help us to ethically represent (trans)gender differences,” Barker-Plummer said. We cannot help but ask, is this the future of reporting on all genders?

Panel Discusses What Vagina Monologues Mean for Men

Danielle Hughes rehearses for “The Vagina Monologues,” which ran from Feb. 12-14 and was prefaced by a panel discussion; topics covered during this discussions included how the play affected men, and why the monologues often make some audience members uncomfortable. Photo by Cass Krughoff/Foghorn.

“The Vagina Monologues” is a play that raises many sensitive topics in the forefronts of audiences’ minds, such as violence against women and other feminist issues. On Feb. 11, prior to the opening performancce of the play’s three-night run, a panel of professors and students working with the show were able to answer questions regarding these issues. This included the director of the play Julianne Fawsitt, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students at USF Mary J. Wardell, Ed.D, Professor in Theology and Religious Studies Lilian Dube, and others.

“The Vagina Monologues” has been at USF for 10 years.  The play and its vision with USF focuses on human rights and brings a global response instead of a local perspective. This play also allows students to participate in the movement.

The director of the show was asked to explain the message of the show in relation to USF’s mission. Fawsitt answered, “The USF mission is to educate hearts and minds to change the world…”The Vagina Monologues” has funny and moving pieces, gaining education through a wide range of experiences. If one opens itself to these issues, it’ll open their eyes…to experience communally and share experiences with other people.”

“The Vagina Monologues” first began in 1996 written by Eve Ensler. V-day first began in 1998 with a sold-out benefit performance of the “The Vagina Monologue.” The “V” in V-day stands for “Victory, Valentine, and Vagina.” Their website states V-day is a “global movement to stop violence against women.” The V-day campaign is to end physical and sexual violence, and even assault on being a woman, which is less obvious.

One of the major issues discussed among the panel is the involvement with men and the play. Men may feel uncomfortable going to see the show but those in the audience and the panel believe that men should be more aware of sexual violence and are encouraged to see the performance.  A question was raised about how they can get more involved, since many may feel like their perspective is that they don’t belong there. The panel responded that men might help out by getting involved in dialogue and hopefully in the school curriculum. Students are more likely to listen to other students as opposed to professors. With the grant money received last year, the panel hopes to incorporate a program in the core curriculum about sexual violence.

Aside from getting people to see the performance and being more aware of sexual violence, there was discussion about what the U.S. government and what the Jesuit community is doing to help due to limited resources. The panel responded that the state and not the federal government controls sexual education. Sexual issues are taught in sex education classes but these classes have been minimized and many policies have ended talk about sex. Here at USF, a Jesuit community, there is space created and opportunity for dialogue. For example, The Vagina Monologue displays art and empathy. There is a broader palate by including specific human beings and behavior. The Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Student Resource Center at USF is also a resource and space dealing with issues of sexual violence.

It is almost the anniversary of the sexual assaults that occurred last year on campus. One question was proposed to Fawsitt, “Do you feel responsible that the plays can trigger the trauma?” The president of College Players responded that she does feel responsible but there are resources available, maybe not enough but there are.  In addition she said, “The campaign is to show itself as a collaboration and that we are not alone and there is also joy.”

Although the show consists of selections from way back when “The Vagina Monologues” first started, the discussion about whether pieces were outdated came to question. The response was that “The Vagina Monologues” has both individual and collective focuses, which females can relate to even though we have moved on in time.

Most importantly, the panel also discussed how the performances make many uncomfortable. By dissecting this topic, the panel came up with the conclusion that people are most discomforted because they are not compassionate towards their own selves. The panel said one should be appreciating his or her body, and that many of us need to treat ourselves with compassion.

After watching the performance, senior Andrew Harada, 21, said, “I really liked the humor that they used throughout the show. I thought “The Vagina Monologues” would just be long and boring but turned out to be the opposite. I would actually let people know that it’s a good show that supports a worthy cause.”

During the discussion panel, Lilian Dube responds to a question pertaining to USF students wanting to help globally in relation to the Democratic Republic of Congo (there was a selection performance in regards to the issues in the country). Flattered that students want to help the world globally she points out it’s great to change things in different parts of the world but there are the same problems right here in San Francisco. Dube says, “I want students to be challenged to look into their backyard.”

Gender Center Provides Safe Space for Sex Discussion

Foghorn Archives  The GSWRC was opened after several incidents of sexual violence were reported on USF campus last spring, launching a student movement against sexual violence, including this Take Back the Night march, lead by Jenna Recupero, Jenny Reed, and Erika Carlsen.

Foghorn Archives The GSWRC was opened after several incidents of sexual violence were reported on USF campus last spring, launching a student movement against sexual violence, including this Take Back the Night march, lead by Jenna Recupero, Jenny Reed, and Erika Carlsen.

In one of the most heavily-trafficked parts of USF campus, next to the Market Cafe in the University Center, the new Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Resource Center (GSWRC) has opened its doors. The resource center is the brainchild of a group of students and administrators in response to several incidents of sexual violence reported last semester (for more information see “Caskey” on page 3).

Senior Samantha Sheppard-Gonzales saw the center take shape from the beginning as the co-director of the club Students Taking Action Against Sexual Violence (STAASV)

When these concerned students started meeting to address the issue of sexual violence on campus, they broke into specific action-oriented committees. Sheppard-Gonzales’ committee was focused on the need for a resource center on campus, a safe and inclusive space.

“The hardest part was convincing the administration that it was really necessary,” Sheppard-Gonzales said. With the support of Dean of Students Mary Wardell, the center was approved and open by summer. “It was nice to see student action lead to such tangible results so quickly,” Sheppard-Gonzales said.

The GSWRC is a multipurpose facility according to Megan Gallagher, assistant director of Health Promotion Services, who helps oversee the center. “We want to bring together the themes of gender and sexuality issues, working on prevention [of sexual violence] and guidance and referrals [for victims].”

To reach these goals, the center provides a library of thought-provoking literature and DVDs, fiction and non-fiction, about gender and sexuality issues, all of which can be checked out at no charge. There is also a wealth of information compiled by graduate students in the School of Nursing advising young people what to do if they are in an abusive relationship or have been sexually assaulted.

Graduate nursing students are the staff that keeps the GSWRC going. Joellyn Morris, one such staff member who has been working in the center since June, said the center can help people establish healthy relationships, can educate people how to prevent sexual assault, and can provide support for survivors of sexual assault.

Most importantly, she said, “It is nice to see a safe space on campus for women, and for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) community.”

The center is not limited to just those groups though. “It’s for everyone, men and women,” Morris said. After all, “Issues having to do with women have to do with men too.”

In the upcoming semester the GSWRC plans to host events such as film screenings, guest lecturers and self-defense classes. The center will also be the meeting space of the STAASV club, and Sheppard-Gonzales hopes it can be a place for everyone to gather information and even just hang out.

Freshman Stephanie Bruguera had already visited the center by the first week of classes. Relaxing on a comfortable couch, a rainbow-colored mural brightening the wall behind her, she perused the library of reading material and movies.

Not necessarily expecting to see a gender resource center on campus when she chose to attend this University, she said, “I was really happy to see this.” Gender issues interest Bruguera; she is considering adding a minor in gender and sexuality studies to her biology major. Of the center, she said, “I will for sure be coming back.”

The GSWRC in UC 200 is open from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday through Friday with evening hours from 5 – 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday.