LGBTQ+ History Month

For LGBTQ+ History Month, we return to our conversation about cisheteropatriachy, the experiences of LGBTQ+ women in higher education, and the ways our allyship can help deconstruct harmful binaries.

Reflect: Understanding Cisheteropatriarchy

Cisheteropatriarchy 1 (pronounced sis-het-er-oh-pey-tree-ahr-kee) is a system of power that centers cisgender, heterosexual men and masculinity at the top of a gender/sexual hierarchy, 2 using tools like gender roles to reinforce binary notions of gender and sexuality. This system creates a way of being in the world that accepts only certain kinds of behavior and relationships, punishing women and LGBTQ+ people who do not follow these roles/norms. 3, 4 Toxic Masculinity5 perpetuates and is rewarded by cisheteropatriarchy, as it excludes men who do not adhere to acceptable behavior and beliefs of “real” men. 6, 7 How might this system affect our language in the office, classroom, and beyond? How does it affect our expectations of professionalism and academic success (and our rewards for conforming to them)? How does it bias our sense of credibility or authority toward “masculine” behavior?

Learn: Cisheteropatriarchy in Higher Education

Cisheteropatriarchy limits how LGBTQ+ people, especially women, are allowed to live and express themselves, including in higher education. LGBTQ+ women suffer microaggressions directed at their intelligence and identity,8, 9, 10 disruptions to critical professional opportunities,11, 12 tokenization used to teach others and represent shallow diversity,13, 14, 15 and poor access to affirmative healthcare and facilities.16 LGBTQ+ students, staff, and faculty are less likely to report incidents of bias when they aren’t valued and safe.17 LGBTQ+ women who do report often receive pushback, such as Dr. Rachel Tudor, a trans woman professor who recently won a discrimination lawsuit after being denied tenure because of her gender.18 STEM fields have a deep history of repeating rigid, binary expectations of “normal” 19 and perpetuating a “bro culture.”20 This climate in STEM causes LGBTQ+ women to feel isolation, attempt to hide their identity, and depart from their field. 21, 22

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