Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wherein a Student Misunderstands My Gender

My school's course management software assigns each class an unhelpful string of letters and numbers. While the program allows me to change the name of the class, it doesn't display this changed name anywhere useful. To help me manage my classes, I assign them pictures of famous economists. It's easier for me to think, "Milton Friedman is macro and Esther Duflo is micro," than it is to remember a string of letters and numbers.

A student came to see me yesterday. She's in my micro class. That led to this conversation.

STUDENT: At the beginning of the semester I thought you were transgender.

A RANDOM STRANGER: I'm sorry, what?

STUDENT: Transgender. A trans person.


STUDENT: Because your picture on [course management software] is a woman.

A RANDOM STRANGER: No, it's me as a child.

STUDENT: No, it's a woman. And I thought, 'I guess he used to be a woman.' And I thought, 'Good for him because he must have been a quite tall woman.' But then you talked some about your wife, and I wasn't sure. Then you talked some about your kids and I thought, 'Maybe not.'

A RANDOM STRANGER: Well, it was good of you to be so accepting, but I was never a woman. [shows student the picture of me as a child] This is my picture on [course management software].

STUDENT: No, it's a picture of a woman.

A RANDOM STRANGER: [shows student the picture of Esther Duflo] This one?


A RANDOM STRANGER: No, that's just for my convenience telling the classes apart.

Until this student said something, I never would have thought that I look like Esther Duflo, but now I think I see similarities. Do we look like we could be related? No one has ever mentioned it to me before. The usual celebrity-doppelganger I hear is Drew Carey (since Drew Carey lost some weight and I got thick-framed glasses around the same time).

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