What IFF?

Ep. 4: Redefining Family with Dr. Cristina Dominguez

October 13, 2022 CofC Women's and Gender Studies Program Season 1 Episode 4
What IFF?
Ep. 4: Redefining Family with Dr. Cristina Dominguez
Show Notes Transcript

What IFF?  is kicking off the Fall 2022 semester with the Women’s and Gender Studies Program’s newest assistant professor, Cristina Dominguez, Ph.D. As a new member of our community, Dr. Dominguez gives a new perspective on queer kinship and the politics of family, and we couldn’t be more excited to introduce them here.

Music by Ketsa


MH: Hi, y’all. Welcome back to What IFF? As you know, this is a podcast where we learn from one another to begin answering what it will mean to imagine and fight for a more just, intersectional, and feminist future. From the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at The College of Charleston, I’m your host Marissa, and ringing in the new school year with WGS, our first guest at What IFF? this fall is the Women’s and Gender Studies program’s newest assistant professor, Dr. Cristina Dominquez. 


MH: Dr. Dominguez received a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Psychology at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. Afterwards, they earned their Masters in Women’s Studies at San Diego State University and later returned to the South to complete their PhD in Educational Studies with a concentration in Cultural Studies at UNC Greensboro. Now we welcome them with open arms as the newest member of the WGS community at CofC. Today, Dr. Dominguez shares with me their expertise in and the importance of queer kinship and how implementing a new style of grading in schools could help us in the fight for a more just future. 


MH: First off, Dr. Dominguez, congratulations on your position, and welcome to The College. 

CD: Thank you, yeah. 

 MH: So, how has this transition been for you and your family and what does it mean for you to be the newest member of the WGS family. 

CD: It feels… it is a lot. I think it’s so exciting. I dreamed of this job for a lot of my life. And when I saw the posting, I remember showing it to my partner, Grey, and Grey being like “uh, did they write this job for you? You have to apply. This is amazing.” It just feels like such a long journey, even though it’s a very quick process, or this process anyway was a quick one. Yeah, and so to actually be here and actually transition into the role and come just feels like a lot at once, very very exciting, but also just a lot. And, moving with a kid is an experience I’ve never had, so getting them used to a new place, but also we had been very isolated with COVID, so we’ve spent the last 2 years very very isolated trying to protect Luciene, that’s my child’s name, Lucien, I call them Luz, so it’s just hard to come back into the world. 


CD: I think it shows different markers of privilege of how isolated people could be, but I was pretty isolated. But, I am an extrovert. I love to be around people, but I am out of practice being an extrovert, so it’s exciting to be on campus and exciting to be with students. I haven’t taught in the classroom in person in two years. So, that’s exciting but to still wear a mask and try to figure out how to do embodied teaching and learning with people not being able to see so much of my face being a very expressive person is a very odd experience. But, I’m just so grateful to be physically in person. The community here, the WGS community is just so incredible. I mean when I came to visit after I signed my letter to even just my welcome event the other week, I don’t like attention, at all, and it’s funny to think “how are you a teacher and an extrovert and someone who cares so much about community?” but I love things that are about community when I am also a part of that but the focus isn’t completely on me. 


CD: To go to your question, when you’re taking on this role, I think what feels so exciting but also simultaneously like a very big responsibility is how this role was dreamt of and desired and fought for by this community and specifically to think about it coming from student protest the focus and the emphasis, so that feels like a really important order to step into, and I feel very very humbled and honored by that but also I really want to do it justice and I want to come into the community. I love that you started with that question because last class in my special topics class we talked about friendship as activism, and so as a reflection assignment I said write love letters to your friends in your life. It could be more than one person, it could be one person, they don’t have to be physically with us anymore, what have you. And I was just really moved by how they’ve been with me in transitioning, and they’ve just been so gentle and shown me such grace and care. So, I told them, I got really emotional, and I was like, “I’m gonna write a love letter to y’all.” And when I think about the interview process for this job, I had to kind of surrender to the universe, and just say, “please just put me in the community that I’m supposed to be with, make a contribution and share in growing with folks and learning with folks, and I really just feel like that’s what’s happened. So, it feels really great to be here. It’s a lot to think about how I come into that very desired space, but yeah I’m really grateful. 


MH: I totally get that. I can imagine the pressure that you must feel, but at the same time, this is a trailblazing moment. You’re not coming in and trying to fill someone else’s shoes. You get to come in as you are with what you have to bring knowing that you were chosen on a count of those things. What I love about the Women’s and Gender Studies program here is that they allow students to be involved in that process of choosing the new professor because we are given the opportunity to reflect on our own education and what we want out of it and make decisions based on that which is a really cool thing I think. Now, you are not new to the south, you have been here for many years, but I happen to know that we are both originally from New Jersey, so being from the northeast and having studied on the west coast, what is it about the South that draws you here and keeps you here and tells you that this is where you’re meant to do the work you do. 


CD:  Yeah, I think it’s just that there’s no other place that I have felt so held by community. It's the first place where I really formed deep, honest, across difference relationships: across race, across class, across ability, across religion. But, you know the South gets painted in this particular way, and as somebody from the northeast, from New Jersey, I had thought that. I think I thought that, but I also had this naivety around where I was moving, but over time I got to see the nuances and contradictions and complexities. When I went to college, that’s when I first really came into social justice and came into learning across difference in a really tangible way and not always in the classroom. That was kind of the beginning of when I really experienced the South on my own terms, and I came of age and came into myself in the South. I experienced myself as a queer person in the South, I built queer community for the first time in the South. And I felt the most free I’d ever felt in Scorpios in Charlotte, pulling up in my car, taking my sorority magnet off my car so people couldn’t know who I was and being with the people who ended up being home to me. So, that’s why I want to be here. I know the power of the South, I know how transformative it can be, I know how deep community can be built because we know each other, we find each other, and we make a way.


MH: Yeah, I really relate to you on that. This is the place where I came into celebration of my identities and of who I am, and it’s the place where I met people who have changed the direction of my life, and it’s where I’ve learned to love in new ways. And, like you said, it’s where community has been built. For me, social justice has been a big part of forming those bonds here. What was your experience in that?


CD: We built on people’s front porches and backyards around fire pits and couches and floors. For better or worse, we were everything to each other, and that is why I want to be here because I think there is something really transformative about building so deeply in such complex relationship. Instead of just seeing social justice as something you do, especially as a faculty member like “oh, that’s part of your service and your research or it’s the topic that you teach.” If I was gonna be in academia, I wanted to be in a place where I knew I was gonna be deeply rooted, and it wouldn’t just be like a facet of my life. So, I knew that that’s what the South was gonna show me. 


MH: Right, and I think that we’ve talked about this before. Moving to a new city where everyone’s political beliefs, social beliefs align with your own sounds nice, but it doesn’t change the fact that there is work to be done still in that city that you just left, and to just up and leave when there is so much more progress to be made can feel really wrong to some people. Nonetheless, I for one am glad that you’ve chosen to keep the South as your home. So, can you tell me about the classes you’re teaching this semester? 


CD: So, I’m teaching the special topics on queer kinship, friendship, comradeship, and community, and that is based on all of the literature that I reviewed for my dissertation and is shaped and informed by that but also collaborative in the pedagogy of… I created this giant, very lengthy word document and shared it with all the folks taking that class and was like: “What would y’all want to talk about? Are there things here that you’d like to add in? Are there interests that you have? Because I could read and share podcasts and videos all day, but are there specific ones that y’all really want to discuss?” And so, it was definitely shaped and informed by their interests. Yeah, so the other course that I'm teaching is the 200 level course, the Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies course, and I think I guess the unique contribution that I make to that course is I’m a relationally focused person. I emphasize a lot of collaboration in class, and so students work in groups. I also, like Kris, practice ungrading so hopefully that takes some of the pressure off, and I also don't have students evaluate each other. But they do work in groups, and it's carved into the class, so it's not with the expectation that they'll do work outside of class, because I don't think that's very equity focused: people have a lot of demands on their time and not everyone can equally participate in group work. 


CD: And so, they work in groups throughout the semester on several assignments, but the coolest one in my opinion, is the three weeks of the course that I devote within particular focus to student interest, so there's that collaborative piece to my pedagogy as well. Where, I ask students what topics, current or historical events are they interested in, and I try to find artists, visual artists, musicians, and writers that have created feminist interventions or artivism. We do a sampling on one day, and then on the following class meeting, they get in groups, and they create something which is my favorite thing, and I've done that for a very long time. But yeah, so that’s the other course that I'm teaching right now, and, you know, I have students that for sure I think it's new and have a lot of challenging ideas and ways of being in the classroom with each other. But for other students. I think t's really exciting to have that opportunity, and that was definitely my experience when I was an undergrad taking intro to WGS of just feeling, like, ugh, this is what I have been waiting for and I don't think that's, you know, everybody's experience, but it was definitely mine. So, it's amazing to be, again, on the other side of that and this time, not as an adjunct, but as someone who's  hopefully, gonna be here for, you know, ever if I can have it my way. 


MH: Yeah. Of course. Well, I’m glad that you also brought up that you also practice ungrading; Last semester, when I took the Women’s and Gender Studies Capstone class with Dr. De Welde, that was my first experience with that process. And, you know it was a little bit of an adjustment at first, but I do think that my classmates and I really benefited from it. So, for those listening who are unfamiliar with ungrading, can you break it down a little? 


CD: Sure. Yeah. I think this goes really in alignment with bell hooks’ writing on what feminist pedagogy can look like and the work of Paulo Freire who is considered the father of critical pedagogy. Essentially what is is trying to do is disrupt that teacher as authoritarian figure in the classroom and moving away from what Freire called the banking system of education or education for domination, which is the belief that like I as the teacher and the authority am imparting knowledge into you the student who's an empty vessel, and instead moving towards  what critical race scholars and various scholars in education have called like an asset based approach of thinking that learners in the classroom are coming in with knowledge and experience and can contribute to knowledge production and trying to to foster that. So there are ways that you can do that in terms of assignment design, but in terms of grading that can sometimes still just feel like I'm evaluating your work and what I say, and what I think about how your work has grown or not grown is what goes. And so, people are like, “well, then, what are you doing? Like, if the students are grading themselves, what is your job?” Right? 


CD: And I think, like, no, no you're still giving rich feedback and guidance and suggestions and making observations, but it's definitely with more of a dialogue. You know, like, “this is what I'm seeing. What are your thoughts? Or, I really appreciate what you contributed here. Here I’m curious as to what you mean by this. Or what sources from class do you really see coming into play with this argument that you're making?” What have you, so again, it's kind of more of a dialogue, but it's encouraging students to look at their own work and to also have their own relationship to their own growth and learning. And I think that, God, that's needed, right? We live in a society that has so imposed horrible, horrible testing to the point where people aren't retaining anything that they're learning. There's kind of only this one measure of: Do you know these things in this way? And performing it back. Instead of people having a meaningful relationship to what they're learning, and what they're experiencing. So, I was having a conversation with Kris at the beginning of the semester, and I was like, you know, I know this is really challenging for students. In no other role have I ever had permission to do this, so I've always had to assign numerical and or letter grades. 


CD: It feels so good to finally have permission and support from someone to be like, no, no, you can do this, and I was like, “should I still put percentages on the assignments to guide the students? I just kinda wanna move away from that.” And Kris was like, “I've gotten to a place where I don't do that anymore, and I even challenge my own thinking around what assignment should be weighted what.” Because, even though she's moved away from that and has more experience with ungrading, it's interesting how it's still really deeply in us of like, “Oh, well you know I think that this assignment is one that's the most important in the course or is how I'm gonna really measure, over these other assignments, how much you've grown or challenged your thinking.” But, to a different student that might not have been the most transformative assignment. It might be this other assignment that I'm thinking isn't as challenging, right? And so, I think it's really allowing students to do that, so what that looks like right is like every assignment that I give, I give plenty of feedback and I’m in conversation but at the midpoint and at the final when you have to turn in grades, students complete some questions. Where have you grown the most? What are you most proud of? What do you think has been missing, or where could you challenge yourself more, especially at the midpoint, right? But even, like, where could you challenge yourself more is a great question to ask at the final because their learning is not going to end with my class. And so, yeah, having them answer those questions for themselves, and then say, “this is the grade I would give myself, and why,” and encourage them to speak with specificity. To be like, “oh, you know, on this assignment I feel like I really pushed myself or went out of my comfort zone around discussing texts and their relationship to each other, but this assignment I feel like I kind of didn't give as much time to, and as a result, whatever it is, right?” 


CD: And so it invites that reflection for them and I think also shows them that they know their learning really deeply and in really nuanced and complex ways, and they can communicate that which I think is a life skill, right? If we think about the way that power operates, people from more marginalized positionalities are already questioned around knowledge, and are they a rightful knowledge producer, and is their knowledge real knowledge or supported knowledge? And so, I think it's developing that muscle  of saying, “no, this is what I've known to be true, and this is how I've come to that place and this is what contributes to that and I think that matters. So, that's what my hope is that ungrading can kind of establish that skill, and also really break our negative relationship to learning, like learning from a place of pleasing the professor, performing for the grade. I used to get so frustrated because I would put so much feedback on a student's paper, and I knew that all they were gonna do is scroll to the bottom to see what grade it was, and if they were satisfied with it, they wouldn't even look at my comments. So, now that there's no grade to look for they have to look at my comments and they have to think about, “well, what does this mean for me?” And not from a selfish place, but, genuinely if I’m thinking about myself as a person and in relationship with other people, what do I think about what Dr. Dominguez is saying versus my classmates versus my community? And how am I part of that conversation, and what do I want to contribute or move forward with? And so yeah, I think that ungrading can can kind of move away from that place of seeing our value in other people's assessments of us alone. Instead of seeing other people’s assessments and evaluations of us as part of a larger conversation that we also get to be a part of. 


MH: Thank you for all of that because when you think that hard into it, it’s not that controversial, but for some people it could be considered a controversial way of teaching. But really what it’s doing is considering the student as more than just their identity as a student, it's considering the full range of their identities. In the capstone, Dr. De Welde told us on the first day: “Other classrooms might tell you to leave all your baggage at the door, come in and focus on school and focus on what’s going on in the classroom, but,” she's like, “that’s not realistic, and that’s not what I want, and I think that's gonna have the opposite of the effect that we’re trying to reach.” I would say that for most of my educational career, I was put into this habit of comparing my work to my classmates’ work, but during the capstone class, as well, Dr. De Welde really encouraged us to get out of that habit. Instead we were encouraged to reflect on our own work not only in that classroom but during the years leading up to it. And reflecting is hard sometimes, but this practice really forces you to hold a larger role in your own education. I think that it brings us to ask questions like, why are we learning this? And more than that, why are we not learning this? That’s not something you're taught to do throughout your entire educational career. K-12, you’re taught: “put this down your throat and take it” a lot of times, you know? 


CD: Right, and I think part of the way that the neoliberal capitalist institution that is higher education works is that people are seeing this as an exchange. Right? Like, I am paying for these classes and I get to pick hopefully the professors that I like, or the classes that I like, which, yeah of course.  There should be joy in the discomfort that is learning, and I really appreciate bell hooks’ saying learning is discomfort. If you're comfortable in your learning, then you're actually not learning; what you're doing is receiving information that you already know and agree with. 

MH: Absolutely, I’m a big believer that you grow the most in moments of discomfort. You learn the most in those moments, and I think that’s where life happens. So, in one of your publications, you argue that we should “engage critical pedagogy as living-loving praxis in all the places of our lives” And I think this is exactly what the process of upgrading aims to do. It’s trying to give students the tools to take what they're learning from the classroom and apply it directly to their real lives. And based on what I know of you, I think that you’ve also applied this idea of this living-loving praxis in your personal life. Of course, queer kinship is one of your areas of concentration, and I wish we had more time to talk about some of your publications, but your story, “We’re Having a Baby” which is about your and your partner’s experiences in deciding to parent and the process of all of that I think is so important because I feel like there’s not enough representation surrounding the process and the politics of forming a queer family. So, can you say a bit more about how what you teach is what you live and also about the experiences that you’ve had in creating this beautiful queer family that you get to call your own. 


CD: Yeah, I mean to say: do I try to practice the things that I write and teach about? For sure. And am I perfect at it? No. [laughs] It’s like: is there ethical consumption in late stage capitalism? No. And, I still try to do and make different choices and to be as accountable as I can to the communities and values that I hold, yeah. I have always known I've wanted to be a parent. I've always known that. I've known that more than I ever thought I would be in partnership, and I actually never thought i'd be legally married, and I am legally married, and part of my motivation to get legally married was because I knew, as a queer person who was going to be partnered in a queer and trans partnership, that that in the South would be our only avenue for my partner to have parental rights. Right? Through step parent adoption. So, we had to be legally married in order for Grey to be able to adopt the child that I gestated and birthed. I didn't always know if I wanted to have a genetic child that was my own. It was more important that I just wanted to experience what it would be like to carry a child and birth a child in my body. But, you know, my partner never wanted to use his eggs and go through all of that and have to go off testosterone to do that. So that's why we ended up using my eggs. 


CD: But yeah, so Lucien's other genetic parent Luz's other genetic parent is a chosen family member of mine that I met while I was getting my Masters in Women's Studies at San Diego State. So Nick was a year ahead of me and part of my first real experience of scholarly feminist community. And, so Nick was my pick for my other genetic parent of my child long before I had the romantic relationship that I had with my partner. And, so, Nick and I had had conversations around what that would look like a long time ago, 2010 and 11. And so, when I reconnected with my partner now- which we have the greatest love story ever: we have a shared ex-girlfriend, we were part of the same underground lesbian closeted high school group in Morrisville, North Carolina. 

MH: That is very gay. 


CD: It’s amazing. Oh, yeah. My first girlfriend then later dated Grey, and so that's how we know each other. And when we started getting together and we started getting serious, I expressed that, you know, like, I've always wanted to be a parent, and I want to have my child know their other genetic parent, and I want their other genetic parent to be this person, to be Nick, to be another queer and trans person, and to know they came from queer and trans people. And that was very important to me. And so, my partner was like, yeah, sure, that sounds great. I would love to, you know? And so it was important to me that they build relationships. And so we have kind of built as a family of people long before we ended up even starting to try for Lucien. And it took us a long time to have Lucien. And then eventually we had tests run to recognize that we never had a shot at all those DYIs, which I wish we had done initially. But, you know, you just assume, well, I'm healthy and I should be able to do these things and whatnot. And then we got the results from another test that showed that, no, IVF was going to be our only option. And I was like, well, I don't have that amount of money. 


MH: I was gonna say. That’s so expensive. 

CD: Also, when you do adoption, that can be just as expensive if you don't go through the state, and if you do go through the state in a southern state, you're at the whim of whatever social worker you get assigned. And as queer and trans people of a particular class who had been involved in political organizing, we didn't feel like we were going to have much of a shot. So, there were a lot of factors that informed it, but ultimately, you know, my parents wealth and class background were the reason that I was able to have a child, and I try to be very transparent about that. But yeah, so I timed my egg retrieval for winter break and I kept it all a secret from most of my colleagues in academia because I knew I potentially could be judged for doing this when I hadn't even defended my proposal, and it had been taking me so long. And all these ideas we have about linear trajectories and success in the academy. And then, my hormone levels were too jacked to do a transfer in December of 2019, so I scheduled my first frozen embryo transfer for spring break of 2020. So, that's when we got pregnant after years of trying and not being successful. And then it was a really intense and scary time. 


MH: But now you said Luz is about to be a healthy two years old, right? 

CD: Yes. About to be 2 in November, which is wild. Yeah, but it's so interesting to think about when you talk about the intentionality piece. I think, you know, as queer and trans people who based on our assigned sexes, you know, my partner and I knew we were never going to be able to have a child between the two of us from our own means. And then even with DYI-ing with our chosen other genetic parent, that still wasn't successful. And so, we knew we would have to have a plan in ways that cisgender heterosexual couples or certain queer and trans couples just don't have to have the same kind of plan. So, we used that time to be really intentional about what would we do as parents in terms of certain things. And we had really long conversations and intentional conversations between Grey and I, but also me, Grey, and Nick, then later Nick's now husband, too. We kind of have a going group chat. And we consider ourselves part of this kind of extended family. So, yeah, I mean, I think that in some ways it allows us to be more intentional because it's not a given. And then also thinking about what society thinks about us and our families. You know, it's hard not to internalize those messages that we shouldn't be parents, that we are deviant or wrong, that who we are is exposing our kids to something that they shouldn't be exposed to. We shouldn't be trusted with children. And those narratives about queer and trans people go back very, very far. And, you know, we don't need to look that far into the past to know that there have been queer and trans people and continue to be courageous people who have their children taken from them.


MH: I think what I am mostly getting from your amazing story and also what we were talking about before with this living- loving praxis, I think when deciding to have a child, it's just a matter of whether or not you're having a kid because you know you want to further your bloodline or your last name, whatever it is. But it's another thing to bring a person into this world and know that you're bringing them in as a member of your community and as a member of the greater society. And in your essay, We're Having a Baby, You explore a quote: "we, like a fish that is immersed in water from the moment of consciousness and thus cannot know what it is separate from the water, are immersed in the deep water of our culture." And along with that quote, you go on to speak about and grapple with the complexity of bringing a child into a world full of climate change and phobias of every kind. So it's post-pregnancy and it's post-birth. And now you have this little person to raise up in this world. What has that experience been like for you? 


CD:  You know, it's funny because I am just so grateful to people I've learned from. It's been a journey to have them, and it was really hard and really discouraging in a lot of times. But the time that it took, I think, allowed me to be really thoughtful, like I was saying. And when I think about two people whose work I learn the most from, in addition from like models in my real life and real community, I think of bell hooks and I think of Kim Tallbear in particular and the ways that they talk about our relationship to children and our relationship to family and how we create family. And so, yes, I feel so lucky to have gotten to make Luz from queer family. I feel like as a white person, I was raised with the language of like "second family" and "this person's 'like' a sister," but learning from black feminists and Chicana feminists and queer people that we can take out the word "like." We can blur the lines between friend and family, that we can blur the lines between lover, friend and family, right? And that we can have all these kinds of relations. And I just really wanted Lucien to experience that. And so, yes, we are engaging in gender expansive parenting. Yes, we are trying to disrupt our child's relationship to valuing given or genetic family over other kinds of family and relationships. 


CD: And also, I'm just really trying to be curious about who my kid is, what they might be interested in. While also, yeah, of course, sharing my commitment to social justice, my belief in liberation, my critique of these systems and our place within them, with them. And it's all a big task, but an exciting one. And I just feel so lucky to know them and to be getting to know them and to be witnessing the world through their eyes and to be encouraged to have hope in a way that I think is not hope that I had before and also not hope in them. I mean, I was talking to a student about this in the queer kinship class, but there's this way that I think people just put on kids and younger generations to save us from our mistakes. And for me, I don't see it that way. Like, of course, I think Lucien will make a contribution to this world, to the movements, etc. But, it, if anything, emboldens my responsibility to them, to their generation, to do more and not from a selfish place of like to safeguard things for my kid or to power forward. But because my connection to them is my connection to life and to people on this planet and in this place and how we show up. Right? And it matters to live into my values in front of them and with them and for them. 

MH: Yeah, I'm so glad that we've gotten to have this conversation on this show together because this whole podcast is about trying to imagine and plan for, you know, intersectional feminist futures and with that is planning for the younger generations. So with that in mind, imagine that it's 15, 16 years in the future and Luz is about to graduate high school. If you had it your way, what is different for them in this future? 


CD: Oh God. So many things would be different. I would want Lucien to not be individually focused is my greatest wish for them, that they see themselves as part of a community, as trying to be in good relation with this planet, which I hope we have done something to take better care of by then. I hope that Lucien is not in some spaceship on some other planet. But you know. 

MH: [laughs] Yeah, I do know. 

CD: But yeah, I mean, I just, I hope for them that they, when they're thinking about their future, that they are not thinking just for themselves. And I also hope that they recognize that work and what they do for paid labor, which I hope that capitalism has fallen by the time they are graduating high school. But I just hope that they know that their life is full and dimensional and relational. And I think that, like, you know, in one of my classes, we talk about how messed up it is that we say, like, you're earning a living as if people don't deserve to live without earning money, which means producing for the dominant group and owning class folks.  


CD: And so, yeah, I hope that they know that who they are, how they are with others and themselves is the most important thing. And I want that to take shape in the place where, like bell hooks says, there is joy in their struggle that yes, they should be challenging themselves and be thinking about what it looks like to be in deep, meaningful solidarity with folks who do not have the positionalities of dominance that they have. And, it should be authentic, vulnerable, as close to a reciprocal as possible relationships that are loving and joyful because otherwise we are not moving any closer to liberation uf it's about self sacrificing, savioristic, individualistic, ego based. And that's why, yeah, I just hope that Lucien can find a place for themselves in movement and community with other people seeing and doing things that I haven't even imagined and challenging me and my ideas in ways that I welcome because I am far from the authority on all things.

MH: Yeah, thank you for that. I mean, I don't think that that future sounds too far off or too impossible for us to achieve, especially considering all the work that you're already actively doing here now at the College of Charleston. Unfortunately, we are out of time today. But before I let you go, I'd love to do a quick speed round in the spirit of Brené Brown to get to know you a little bit more. And for the sake of time, we'll just do a couple. So let's do it. Okay. First, there's a bug in your house. Do you kill it or do you catch it and let it outside? 


CD: Oh god. It's like you're reading my mind. We're trying to work on my kid not killing bugs in our house because they've seen me kill a fly on more than one occasion. And now they think it's funny. Oh, it's so bad, Marissa. And so they'll like, swat at things that they perceive to be a fly, and they'll also stomp their foot and they will laugh saying, "fly killer." And I'm like, Oh God, please don't kill living things. So I have to be like, "no, baby, we're not going to kill that, like, let's be gentle, let's let the flies outside. It's really talking about living your values. I'm like, gosh, I really got to work on this because my kids are over here saying "fly killer" and laughing. They're a mirror, they will call you out. They will call you out on your stuff and show you your contradiction. And you have to be like, Ooh, okay, yeah. 


MH: That is so funny. Yeah, you've really got to watch yourself. Okay, my last question of the day is: what is something or someone that never fails to make you laugh? 

CD: Oh, God. I mean, the easy answer is my kid. Really, though, besides my kid, queer and trans people just being us and, like, not giving a -, like, literally just not caring who were around and being ourselves the most access and making fun of ourselves, but celebrating ourselves. That always makes me just laugh from that, like, belly deep place of like, we are alive, we are here, we are joyful, we are magic. And no one can take that from us.

MH: I couldn't have said it better myself. You're so right. What a perfect end to the show. Well, thank you so much for being my first guest this semester. And I know I speak on behalf of so much of the WGS community that we are just so thrilled to have you here.

CD: Thank you so much, Marissa. I really appreciate it. 

MH: Oh, my gosh. Absolutely. Thank you again. And I'll talk to you real soon. 

[Musical Interlude]


MH: All right. Thank you so much for tuning in and for supporting the Women's and Gender Studies program. This has been What IFF? at the College of Charleston. Join us next time and we'll hear from the experiences of some of our very own Women's and Gender Studies students. For all future episodes, visit The College's official news site, The College Today at today.cofc.edu or keep up with us on WGS connect at blogs.cofc.edu/WGSConnect and our Instagram @cofcwgs. Don't forget to save the date for the party of the year. The annual fundraising event, Yes! I'm a Feminist will be hosted on Friday, November 4th, from 6 to 730. I promise you won't want to miss it. Until next time. And as always, stay safe and stay feminist, y'all.