Since there are essentially no existing resources on the relationship between trans and gender diverse inclusion and OER, we’re going to use this section to explain the importance of connecting these ideas.
The typical reasons for creating and adopting OER are that commercial textbooks are expensive, become outdated quickly, are not representative of all identities, and are not legally dynamic and customizable. All of these can be viewed through a lens of trans inclusion.
- Expense: 29% of respondents to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey were living in poverty, over twice the rate of the broader U.S. Population (James et al., 2016, p. 5). Regardless of the content of textbooks, their high cost impacts trans and gender diverse students. Among other things, these impacts include what courses and majors students can afford to pursue (Krueger & Ward, 2020). Using OER in general helps counter the disparate impacts of high textbook costs on students’ lives and futures.
- Currency: Language, laws, health care options, and understanding of identity all change rapidly for trans and gender diverse topics. The slow pace of publishing means that a lot of educational materials are outdated by the time they are used, and this is especially harmful when the information is about real people’s identities. OER can be modified with updates without having to wait for a full new edition to be published.
- Representation: Trans erasure is a pervasive issue across disciplines. While there is not much in the way of research on this topic that is specific to educational materials, there is some on other areas. Absent or limited representation in media is harmful to trans and gender diverse people (Mocarski et al., 2019); positive, nuanced representation can improve awareness and understanding among cisgender audiences (Gillig et al., 2018). It is not unreasonable to extend these conclusions to educational resources, and it is also clear that more research is needed in this realm. OER with valuable content but limited trans and gender diverse representation can be easily modified to address that lack.
- Customizability: Many trans and gender diverse identities are unique to a region and/or culture. As with the currency issue, OER allow for easy revisions and additions to content so that teachers can include examples that are relevant to their courses and students. General information can be supplemented with localized or topical examples.
Gillig, T. K., Rosenthal, E. L., Murphy, S. T., & Folb, K. L. (2018). More than a Media Moment: The Influence of Televised Storylines on Viewers’ Attitudes toward Transgender People and Policies. Sex Roles, 78(7–8), 515–527. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0816-1
James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. National Center for Transgender Equality.
Krueger, S. G., & Ward, L. (2020). Assessing Textbook Costs at a Small College. Virginia Libraries, 64(1). https://doi.org/10.21061/valib.v64i1.598
Mocarski, R., King, R., Butler, S., Holt, N. R., Huit, T. Z., Hope, D. A., Meyer, H. M., & Woodruff, N. (2019). The Rise of Transgender and Gender Diverse Representation in the Media: Impacts on the Population. Communication, Culture & Critique, 12(3), 416–433. https://doi.org/10.1093/ccc/tcz031