From the editors and contributors:
"Amidst the ongoing precarity, violence, and death experienced globally by trans people, we’ve witnessed a debate emerge from within the academy regarding the intellectual and pedagogical importance of ignoring trans people’s pronouns. To clarify, this debate is not concerned with accidental misgendering, but the right of an instructor to continuously misgender someone even after being corrected, on the grounds that such misgendering is up for “reasoned debate” and “critical discussion.”
The most recent controversy within this debate began last month after Christopher Reed, Distinguished Professor of English, Visual Culture, and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, wrote and shared a manifesto outlining his right to ignore people’s pronouns in the classroom (and ostensibly in academia at large). Grace Lavery, an Assistant Professor of English at UC Berkeley, critiqued Reed’s position in an essay for the LA Review of Books, “Grad School as Conversion Therapy.” In response to her critique, Christopher Reed, along with his partner/colleague Christopher Castiglia, have now fired back on the same platform in “Conversion Therapy v. Re-Education Camp: An Open Letter to Grace Lavery.”
As a group of scholars and organizers who come from various disciplines and occupy various positionalities within the university, we’ve constructed this toolkit to intervene in this farcical exercise of academic elitism, recognizing the deeply material, social and political consequences of naming and misnaming. We do not believe that people’s identities constitute reasonable grounds for discussion. In fact, it is our contention that the hallowed virtues of “reasoned debate” and “critical thinking” to which Reed and Castiglia refer are only made possible by respecting the identities of any discussants.
This toolkit is meant to intervene in this debate in two major ways. The first is to deconstruct the problems Reed and Castiglia represent for the academy, and how scholars within higher education are prone to reproducing systems of power. The second is to introduce tools for change. Echoing Alicia Garza on the work needed to see a just world after Charlottesville, we need to organize, to keep each other safe, to take care of each other, and we need to imagine a future that is otherwise."