This article explores the experiences of six nonbinary preservice teachers of diverse gender expression and racial and class backgrounds.
Each was enrolled or had recently completed teacher training in North America when the study was conducted in 2018.
This qualitative study employed in-depth, phenomenological interviews to prompt participants to reconstruct rich narratives about their experiences as educators.
This article uses Sara Ahmed’s concept of the “willful subject” to consider how participants negotiated the relationship between their gender identities as non-binary people and their nascent professional identities as teachers.
These beginning teachers expressed concern about succeeding in their teacher education programs and worried about how others perceived them because of the expectation of normative gender implicit in teaching’s professional norms.
This expectation was enforced by the profession’s gatekeepers more than by K–12 students and their families, who participants generally described as hospitable or indifferent to having a non-binary teacher.
If the profession is to genuinely welcome gender diversity, it must do more than protect trans and gender nonconforming teachers from discrimination and harassment:
It must also recognize and work to deconstruct its own gender normativity.