Context: Teachers can help ensure trans and gender creative students’ opportunity and equal access to education, yet the field of educational research has just begun to explore how teachers understand trans and gender creative students’ experiences and negotiate their responsibilities to protect these students’ rights.
Purpose/Research Question: This paper aims to address this essential gap by exploring preservice teachers (PSTs’) understandings of, and preparation for, creating supportive educational contexts for trans and gender creative students by exploring the following research question: How do PSTs construct their responsibilities as future teachers to support trans and gender creative students? Ultimately, this study aims to inform the development of effective teacher education curricula and related policy on trans and gender creative identities.
Participants: Participants included 183 undergraduate preservice teachers enrolled in ten sections of an educational equity course.
Research Design: We conducted a qualitative, inductive, thematic online discourse analysis. Utilizing a queer, social justice teacher education framework, we qualitatively analyzed 549 online PST-authored posts.
Findings: Three themes emerged: 1) PSTs voiced discomfort negotiating conflicting values and roles in supporting trans and gender creative students, and PSTs suggested 2) individualized, differentiated interventions, and 3) community education approaches to promote comfort for trans and gender creative students, strategies which may reinscribe normative, institutionalized views of gender identity.
Recommendations: Findings suggest the pressing need for innovative teacher education on gender identity and fluidity: PSTs need more opportunities to learn about supporting trans and gender creative students, to critically consider constructs of gender and sexuality, and to explore how systemic gender oppression intersects with other forms of oppression through schooling practices.