signing hands in front of desk

Health Care Interpreting Competencies for Trans* and Gender Non-Conforming Consumers

Alex signing with hands held out; Tamar facing him watching

Alex Jackson Nelson signs as Tamar Jackson Nelson looks on
Photo Credit: Rebecca Zenefski, By Rebecca Studios

This final workshop I attended continued the stream of excellent presentations today. Alex Jackson Nelson and Tamar Jackson Nelson offered a clear, informative overview of terms used in the trans* community. (Note: trans* with an asterisk, “makes special note in an effort to include all non-cisgender gender identities, including transgender, transsexual, transvestite, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, genderless, agender, nongendered, third gender, two-spirit, bigender, and trans man and trans woman” (Killerman, 2014) (from their program book workshop description). They established a clear safe space to explore the meaning of terms in English and consider ways these could be represented respectfully in ASL.  One of their very clear points was that gender identity is not about sexual orientation–a distinction I had not realized previously. A useful suggestion they made was that while interpreting, when identifying who in the audience was speaking, the interpreter not use terms such as “man with glasses”, “woman in back row” , thereby assuming gender identity from appearance, but instead consider descriptions such as (point) orange shirt, (point) hat and glasses, etc.

This workshop is usually taught in 6 hours, so Alex and Tamar had to do a lot of condensing to fit it into 2 hours. They effectively managed to pick material to help the participants learn new terms, new concepts, and to examine our own interpreting practices vis a vis trans* people.   Two hours well spent!