Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2016-02-10
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Trans professor makes history at Chicago State
2010-06-23

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


by MASON HARRISON

When classes begin at Chicago State University later this summer under the tutelage of Das Janssen, it will usher in the almost-one-year mark since the Fordham University Ph.D. began his teaching career at the South Side institution. Janssen was welcomed to the school, along with other newly hired individuals, earlier in the year at a reception in the office of the university's president. But what stands out about Janssen's addition to the university, among everything else that seems so routine, is that Janssen, a philosophy professor, is openly transgender—the first such addition, by all accounts, to the school in its history.

Janssen's hiring may help to beat back any perception that predominantly Black institutions like Chicago State are not welcoming environments for LGBT students and faculty. Janssen told Windy City Times that he never set out to be a trailblazer but that the trail at Chicago State "isn't that hard to blaze" anyway because "I haven't had the same troubles here that I've had at other institutions like with bathroom use. People want to make sure that I'm safe here."

Janssen's remarks come as little surprise to others in the transgender movement. "It doesn't surprise me at all," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "There is a myth that Black people don't like gay marriage or LGBT people. I know that there is some difference in the numbers [ between Blacks and whites on the issue of marriage equality ] but I think that that's all just hogwash. There are white and Black people who are tolerant of LGBT people, and higher education has become a great place to transition."

Kylar Broadus, a transgender business professor at a historically Black university in Missouri, echoed Keisling's sentiments and called the perception that Janssen would be anything but welcomed at a school like Chicago State a "misnomer." Broadus recounted his experience with being the first known individual to make the transition on a historically Black campus as a positive one, and believes that acceptance among Blacks of LGBTs is solid.

Janssen, 41, first came across the word "transgender"—a word that would help define his life—at the age of 33, and began to transition from female to male about "three or four years ago." But it isn't Janssen's gender identity that gets the most attention in class; it's his race. Janssen, who is white, simply "politely corrects" students who may refer to him as "she," but aggressively challenges his students "who don't want to be told what to do by white guys in ties at the front of the room." Being one of those white guys in ties at the front of the room, Janssen tells his students that they'd be better off listening to him because he's trying to tell them how to resist just that.

Part of his overall experience at Chicago State has been a lesson in "what it means to be white." Janssen, who enjoys hearing "white jokes," never knew before coming to the university that "there are stereotypes about white people" because of growing up, he noted, in a predominantly white environment on military bases across the country and later in southeastern Virginia. But above all, Janssen's concern is not with race or gender identity, but with knowing that his students are able to learn philosophy from him.

Janssen [ pronounced "yahn-sohn" ] came to Chicago State after learning about an opening in the school's philosophy department from an online job board operated by the American Philosophical Association. Since arriving at Chicago State, Janssen has littered his office with books on transgender identity, philosophy and other matters. "I'm enjoying Chicago and I'm looking forward to Pride. This will be my first Pride in Chicago," he said. Janssen's office window sports a small Pride flag sticker, which undoubtedly is as much an expression of pride as it is a signal to those passing by that his office is a safe space for LGBT students on campus.

Janssen's first name, Das [ pronounced "dahs" ] , is a shortened version of an online moniker he gave himself years ago. The moniker is derived from the expression "dasein"—which means "existence" or "being there"—that the German philosopher Martin Heidegger made famous. But Heidegger is more than the source of a name for Janssen. His first encounter with Heidegger and philosophy in general was during an undergraduate course on Heidegger at Virginia's Old Dominion University. "I took the class and felt stupid," Janssen laughed, "but I got an A."

But Janssen didn't stop there. "I did my dissertation on Heidegger," he added, and Janssen is known in online circles for his disagreements with his subject. But, disagreements aside, Janssen has possibly adopted Heidegger's famous term for existence because, after all, Janssen is truly pleased with his.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Harris files trans-related birth certificate bill in Illinois House 2016-02-11
South Dakota may be first state to make law attacking transgender children 2016-02-10
Argentinian trans activist dies 2016-02-10
NUNN ON ONE: TELEVISION Amy Landecker lands dream job on 'Transparent' 2016-02-10
Upcoming: Patricia Racette in 'Humaine'; sexual-assault exhibit; Trans exhibit 2016-02-10
GLAAD Award nods announced 2016-02-10
Girl Scout turns anti-trans incident into cookie sale success 2016-02-07
Police kill trans man in Arizona 2016-02-07
Panel on homelessness and survival sex Feb. 10 2016-02-03
First trans murder of 2016 in Texas 2016-02-03
Report: Trans youth more likely to have Asperger's 2016-02-03
Trans woman who served years in jail without trial launches fundraiser 2016-02-03
Rush Center first to provide trans health-care benefits 2016-02-03
Defense Department proposes rule change to give medical benefits to transgender troops 2016-02-01
Pritzker chairing Equality Illinois gala 2016-01-27
BOOKS Photography book looks at trans life in Cuba 2016-01-27
Gay athlete has figure-skating win; trans Olympians 2016-01-27
Entertainment: Caitlyn memoir; Idris Elba; Christian Bale; Jillian Michaels 2016-01-26
World: Russian pro-LGBT move; anti-trans incidents; Biden in Switzerland 2016-01-26
Creating Change panel addresses Black Feminism 2016-01-25
Creating Change plenary addresses HIV/AIDS in trans women, Black men 2016-01-25
Olympics changing policy for trans athletes 2016-01-25
Groups issue statement criticizing anti-trans restroom measure 2016-01-22
Suburban legislator files Illinois restroom access bill 2016-01-20
Trans student gets locker-room access; Trans-military ban decision expected 2016-01-20
Theater submissions sought for [Trans]formation 2016-01-20
Web series aims to tell realistic trans experiences 2016-01-20
World news: Chelsea Manning exhibit; Vietnam and marriage; 'Danish Girl' banned 2016-01-19
National roundup: Murderer sentenced; Eric Fanning; Montana's pro-LGBT move 2016-01-19
Chicago Restroom Access Project seeks input on designs 2016-01-18
Chicago Restroom Access Project seeks input on designs 2016-01-18
Suburban district grants locker room access to trans student 2016-01-16
Michigan murderer sentenced to 30-60 years 2016-01-15
Rush first in state to offer coverage for transgender health services 2016-01-15
Report on trans, non-trans veterans; Prison changes; Anti-choice protest 2016-01-13
Recap: Brief on anti-trans law; Gay media; Tutu's daughter; Chamber partnership 2016-01-13
Legendary Baton performer Mimi Marks saying farewell 2016-01-13
Submissions sought for trans work 2016-01-13
TELEVISION It's simply the 'Dress' for Chicagoan Precious Davis 2016-01-12
GMHC: Gervais' Golden Globes comments perpetuate transphobia 2016-01-12
 



Copyright © 2016 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.