Homo What’s In a Name?
posted by July 27 at 6:45 AMon
Process queens are running amuck in Michigan. The Office of LGBT Affairs at the University of Michigan has concluded that its name oppresses some people. Or everybody. Or something.
The letters LGBT, as representative of the identities lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, are no longer inclusive of the diversity of the community. Changing trends in identification tell us that the community of LGBT people go by any number of terms, including Queer.
Sorry, UM, but “queer” is so 1991. Today’s ‘mos prefer the term “invert,” or “third sex.” But it’s not just L, G, and B that are problematic, but also T, as….
…many consider transgender to mean transsexual when the term is intended to be an “umbrella term” for anyone who transgresses the boundaries of the gender binary.
And guess what? The name “Office of LGBT Affairs” oppresses straight people too, a.ka. “allies.” So they’re going to change the name. Great! So call a meeting, toss some ideas around, and pick a new name. Easy! Ah, no. That’s not the way it works in the LGBTQIALMNOP community. Everyone has to be included, every voice has to be heard, input welcomed, feelings honored, etc., etc., etc. And a respectful, inclusive process takes time. How much time?
TIMELINE FOR NAME CHANGE PROCESS
Fall 2005, Winter 2006
Consistent feedback received about the exclusiveness of the letters in office name
Preliminary informal discussions with students, staff and faculty.
Developed Environmental Scan Survey about possible Name Change
Initiated discussion at Creating Change, National LGBT Conference, with National Consortium of directors of LGBT Directors in Higher Education
December 2006-January 2007
Online Survey is administered and sent through all of our email listservs
Analyzed Data from Survey—results indicate interest in name change
Conversations with Sue Eklund, AVP, Dean of Students and Royster Harper, Vice President of Student Affairs
Student Intern conducts research on names of offices across the United States
Develop one page document and talking points for name change
Approval received from Sue Eklund, AVP, Dean of Students and Royster Harper, VP of Students to move forward with this process
Will identify overall programmatic goals for 2007-2008 with our ThemeYear title of “What’s in a Name?”
We will meet with stakeholders on campus including, Women’s Studies, Institute for Research on Women and Gender, School of Social Work, Office of Institutional Equity
Develop information for Web Page about Name Change Process
Forums will be held for ideas and feedback about and for name change with U of M community members
Evaluate feedback and reevaluate timeframe and process
We meet specifically with the LGBT Caucus of the Students of Color of Rackham
Will identify budget and infrastructure implications
Name Change Decision Made
Transition Process begins for name change
We will have a contest for the logo.
July 1, 2008
Transition fully completed
Sometimes our movement moves so slowly that it looks like it’s not moving at all—or moving backwards.
UPDATE: Some folks think I’m being an asshole about this. UM’s LGBT group is just trying to be inclusive! And there I go making fun of them when all they want is to make everyone feel all warm and included and heard and shit! But I’m not mocking them for wanting to change the name, Alex, I’m mocking them for dragging this process out for three fucking years. I’m all for inclusiveness—got no problem with it, all for it, big fan. “So call a meeting, toss some ideas around, and pick a new name,” I wrote. But don’t take three years to do it—my God, think of all the Ls, Gs, Bs, Ts, Qs, Is, TSs, etc., that are going to have to get their degrees and leave Michigan before the name is finally changed! If folks are feeling oppressed by LGBT how can UM justify taking three years to process its way toward an inclusive name for the group?