On Servants' Wings
A gynandromorph butterfly with the transgender pride flag for the front wing and the rainbow pride flag on the rear wing On Servants Wings
Resources and Reflections by Ari Leigh

Master's of Library Science

Professional Outcome 7: Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning

Artifact Name: LI 802 "He Said, She Said, Ze Said", Gender & Interpersonal Communication

Values: Leadership, Mentorship

A life-long education is a conversation. From our first words we join a cacophony of voices which echo throughout the ages. Throughout my time at SLIM I made a commitment to be open about my personal gender journey so that my classmates would be prepared to meet the information needs of those patrons whose gender identity went beyond the male/female binary we are indoctrinated with from our youth. This presentation examines various theories of gender identity before examining research about how gender is portrayed and influences those of us working in library settings. Time is also devoted to acknowledging the wide-spread discrimination targeting transgender and non-binary gendered individuals. Informed and welcoming librarians can be a catalyst for introducing the information which could save the lives of those whose internal struggle is hindered by the fact that no one has yet told them that they can exist, and that others have gone before.

This artifact showcases one small part of that discussion, in which my voice cries out beyond my own fear to start building a world where everyone who needs information about their identity can feel safe approaching knowledgeable information professionals. The series of separate sex/gender spectrums is a concept that I have been developing throughout my time in SLIM. Each time I prepare to share my research and experiences I find myself questioning my ideas, and looking for other ways which might be easier to understand.

This willingness to adapt my explanations to different audiences and to try new methods of sharing this information speaks to my adaptability as a leader. In terms of mentorship, I am not the first transgender individual to attend ESU. Yet throughout my time here I was frequently told that I was the first to be completely open about gender identity. I firmly believe that this openness, a willingness to answer any question, will play a key role in reducing the discrimination faced by trans* individuals. It is only when role models who have traveled similar roads are visible that the next generation will be empowered to claim their own journey. This artifact demonstrates my commitment to mentorship of that next generation of trans individuals and their allies through my complete openness about what can be a personal topic.

Artifact Name: LI 804 "Sex, Please", Examing Societies Division of Individuals

Values: Service, Leadership, Mentorship

The other side of continuing education is to seek out those courses, resources and ideas which will challenge you. In LI 804 I sought to reexamine a topic I am passionate about, sex, in a different light by researching different definitions of that term. In this case, and throughout my work sex refers to the biological characteristics which identify someone as male, female, both, neither or someone different. What I found appalled me. Despite the documentation of intersex individuals (those born with both male and female physical traits) from antiquity every definition I found used a binary ideology. This complete erasure, of myself and of other like me from existence, troubled me. Thus this artifact also represents a commitment to the propagation of complete accurate information. In this project I challenged the simple definitions of sex and found myself creating a definition which would both be accessible and complete. The three principles for defining someone's sex prove that I can seek out opinions I disagree with, synthesize that information with my experience and other research and develop a cohesive idea which can be shared with others.

Service was at the core of this project. My work in challenge existing definitions to make them more accurate and teaching others about non-binary individuals is to improve service for them across the board. It is in the human nature to fear what we do not know. I have found it nigh impossible to fully serve those we fear, and thus the only solution to improving service is to improve the education of the service providers. Additionally the ability to create a new definition and to develop pictorial tools to teach this definition marks me as a leader through their innovation. As with the above artifact, my openness to questions demonstrates my commitment to mentorship and equipping those around me with the tools they need to help the people they serve.

Copyright © Ari Leigh 2019