Friday, April 29, 2011

Kell from Kansas Brings us the Case of Rachel Tudor.

The SOSU administration's clear drive to keep Dr. Tudor from their campus reminds me of exactly why I pursued my graduate degree outside of the Deep South (after finishing a B.A. there.)


Professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University Fired for Being Trans

by Michelle Garcia | Article Date: 04/28/2011 8:23 PM
Professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University Fired for Being Trans

A transgender professor was denied tenure and fired from Southeastern Oklahoma State University for her gender identity. Rachel Tudor, who is transgender, was told by the school's human resources department that she could only use the single-use handicapped restroom after she underwent gender reassignment surgery.

Tudor, who taught for the English, humanities and language department, surmised that the request came from academic affairs vice president Douglas McMillan, who had once said that Tudor's transgender status "offends his Baptist beliefs," according to The Daily Collegian at Oklahoma State University. She was then denied tenure at the school and told that she would be terminated at the end of the semester, on May 31.

According to a petition in support of Tudor, the professor has been approved for tenure twice in the last two years by the Faculty Appeals Committee, but the administration re-wrote the Academic Policies and Procedures manual to prevent Tudor from obtaining tenure.

Bilerico reports that Tudor has brought her case to the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission, U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.


  1. Isn't it interesting how conservatives like to claim that they're discriminated against in the academe, and then they engage in this sort of blatantly bigoted behavior?

    Not to imply that transphobia isn't a problem in liberal circles, either. One of my colleagues insists on calling Raewyn Connell "Bob" and won't use any of her post-transition work in their classes. Said colleague is a recognized gender scholar. Transphobia is rampant in all areas of society.

  2. Ugh. I'd like to have a talk with Douglas McMillan about what constitutes a Christian response to this situation (hint: Jesus hung out with the outcasts, including the sexual outcasts, of his day, and had a tendency to offend the beliefs of the religiously comfortable. What's a WWJD bracelet/bumper sticker/tie tack good for if you don't actually apply the principle?). Then I'd remind him of the principle of separation of church and state.

    And what is it with the bathroom thing? They have stalls in Oklahoma, no?

    I suspect the real problem is not where Tudor goes to the bathroom, but that when she stands in front of the classroom she is a visible example of a person who is a competent scholar and teacher independent of her (trans)gender. Can't have that; it might lead the students to see gender and identity as complex phenomena.

  3. And what is it with the bathroom thing? They have stalls in Oklahoma, no?

    It's a fairly common tactic in corporatized spaces for transgender folks who transition on the job. As a way to mitigate other employees' "discomfort" (real or presumed), the transgender employee is forced to use a single-stall restroom, often on a different floor from their office. Some don't mind it, but these policies most often single out the transgender person and draw attention to them as an Other--putting them at risk of further ostracization.

  4. I, too, have heard of this phenomenon before; I just don't get it. Then again, I wouldn't really have a problem with unisex bathrooms as long as there were stalls.

    But clearly, yes, the "discomfort" isn't really about bathrooms,and may not even belong to the people to whom it's attributed. I suspect "students" and "parents" also serve as screens for the projection of administrators' own preferences and prejudices in academic settings, somewhat as enlisted soldiers did in the DADT battle, until someone surveyed them and found out that a significant proportion don't care if their fellow-soldiers are gay as long as they're good soldiers.

  5. The more I think about this situation the more horrifying it becomes. There's clearly a lot of support for Dr. Tudor from her academic community - and then one particular person has the authority to bar her from advancement because of his bigoted agenda. All it takes is one person, backed up by hundreds of years of prejudice, to ruin a person's life.


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