When we read and discussed Donna Haraway’s The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropraite/d Others and discussed it I was very much interested in the idea of inappropriated others.  It is very clear how this term relates to gender because a not being heterosexual or dis-identifying with the gender they are “supposed” to identify with makes some people uncomfortable.  Therefore, people who are not seen as “normal” are considered others who cannot fit into society.  This lack of acceptance is incredibly common and is something that it seems we all must deal with because that is how people are.  But as I thought about it more I realized that if people are taught at a young age to be more accepting than this idea of an “inapropriated other” would be less prominent.


            When I was in middle school my parents had me attend a tiny private Quaker school in the middle of nowhere in North Carolina.  I didn’t enjoy this school when I went there, but looking back on my time there I realize that there were a few amazing things about this school that other schools just didn’t have. 


Let me explain.


            During my 6th grade year a boy named Spencer visited the school for a day to see if he would like to attend the next year.  This at first seemed to have no meaning because several kids visited our school each year, and most were eventually forgotten about.  Spencer was one of these kids.  For my 7th grade year a few new students came to the school, including a 6th grade girl named Spencer.  Because my middle school was so small, everyone knew everyone, and everyone noticed when someone was not there.  One day Spencer did not show up to school, and on that same day the entire school was called for a meeting.  The teacher sat the students in a large room and told us that Spencer was not at school that day because she wanted the teachers to tell us something.  She wanted us to know that she was transgendered.  The teachers reminded us of the boy Spencer that visited the school the previous year and how she told her parents that she was a girl trapped in a boy’s body.  One student asked why Spencer wanted the teachers to tell us this, and one responded by saying that Spencer didn’t want to lie and did not want someone to find out and be surprised.  Another teacher responded to that by saying “and I think that’s very cool.”  We were then told that we should try to make Spencer as comfortable as possible, and that some changes would be made in order to do so.  One of the boy’s bathrooms at school was changed to a unisex bathroom and the teachers asked everyone to try to use that restroom sometimes to make Spencer more comfortable.


            Based on how cruel I’ve seen people be about others being transgendered, I would have thought that the kids in my school would have shown Spencer the same cruelty, but we all immediately accepted her just like our teachers had hoped me would.  Almost all of the students used the unisex bathroom, people started calling Spencer “Spencie” because she thought it sounded more like a girl’s name, and the girls in her grade always invited her to all girls sleepovers.  Spencie was one of the girls despite her genitalia.


            This story makes me realized that intolerance is something we are taught by people that have already been taught to be intolerant themselves.  As people we really can be quite accepting.  We just need to start early.


Megan Taub