Went to a talk, had some thoughts. The talk was fantastic. While I wasn't necessarily blown away by anything she spoke of (which probably speaks more to only having an hour than to her expertise or my advanced understanding of the content), it was yet another in a long line of discussions that I think refer back to a larger paradigmatic issue. More on that later.
The atmosphere was receptive, although there was some hesitance on the part of the audience (myself included) to engage with Dr. Bryan. I feel as though she wanted a little more from us, and I'm not sure what made it that folks weren't more forward with thoughts. I certainly was more interested in thinking than blabbing. "Are gender and sexuality topics that should be discussed in school?" Some comments. Bryan's answer - yes, because schools are sites of development (identity, sexual, cognitive, etc...), because reality will find its way into schools, and because we all have genders, sexualities, and other facets of identity.
She presented us a series of questions from children at different ages, starting at Kindergarten. "Can I be a boy if I don't have a penis?" Moving through second, third, eighth, high school, we explored what seem like reasonable developmental questions, thinking about the role of the teacher (rights and responsibilities) in addressing them.
The most poignant part of the talk was the discussion of destroying the binary present in many pieces of identity. Male/Female, Gay/Straight, and so on. Again, nothing is surprising here (modernism is very present in my mind). What I really appreciated, however, was the visual of the continuum of all of these aspects of gender and sexuality. Not only were they anchored by various benchmarks, such as the aforementioned polar positions, but typically there was a midpoint (bisexual, androgynous, etc...). She had a series of letters show up on the various continuums, sometimes once, sometimes multiple times, to show that people's identities can be so incredibly complicated. This speaks to my thinking about CRT, personal epistemologies, Freire, T440, and so on. I think underlying this idea is post-modernism, which shatters the binary.
She introduced the metaphor of the finch, which varies greatly from species to species and whose gender can only be determined by hearing them sing. The metaphor, obviously, speaks to the variation present in human beings.
Her book is all about starting and continuing these conversations in the school context, with any age student, based on the postmodern vision of identity explored above.