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‘Shemale or Female’ Quiz Unacceptable

By WSN Editorial Staff

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Last week, a professor at State University of New York at Geneseo gave a quiz in which students were tasked with deciding whether women in photos were “females or shemales.” The quiz featured a slideshow of photos of both transgender and cisgender women. If this was not absurd enough, the professor, David Sorbello, gave no explanation for the relevance of the quiz to his sociology class. Not only was this quiz offensive, but it did not serve any academic purpose whatsoever. The university must hold the professor accountable and reaffirm its commitment to all students.

Undoubtedly, the entire premise of the quiz is horrible. Transgender women are human beings, not “she males” to be discussed in such a cavalier manner. Furthermore, the quiz served no academic purpose for Sorbello’s sociology class. Sorbello’s claim that it serves a humorous purpose unnerved many students, especially in light of his insensitive comment, “Be careful not to get too drunk or you’ll take the wrong one home.” To make matters worse, Sorbello addressed some of the women individually by pointing at them and saying, “I’m definitely not going to the bar with you.” The students also reported that Sorbello was not happy for being called out. One student, Jillian Sternberg, had to apologize to him in an email later. The only response the school offered so far is that it will “determine if and what action is warranted.” This is unacceptable.

Trans individuals are subjected to enough discrimination and abuse outside of the classroom. Universities should be spaces where marginalized students should not feel explicitly or implicitly attacked. Regardless of the topics discussed in classes, all campuses should prioritize protecting their trans students. As the students pointed out, the quiz served no clear academic purpose, and the professor admitted that he relied on humor to approach the controversial issue. The lecture was supposedly about sexual dimorphism — which is a condition only seen in animals and plants. Furthermore, sexual dimorphism was not discussed during the session, and the students could not find any correlation between the topic and the content presented. The quiz was just completely unnecessary, academically and morally.

Professors are supposed to spread academic knowledge and inspire their students to be productive members of society. By administering such an offensive, unnecessary quiz, Sorbello crossed the line and instead encouraged further bigotry toward trans individuals. After the incident, Sorbello’s students were told they could no longer bring laptops, cellphones or photo-taking devices to his class. This only makes matters worse, as it seems that Sorbello is trying to cover himself. This, however, should only push SUNY Geneseo to hold Sorbello accountable. Everyone has a place in society and on their college campus. This kind of offensive barbarity must never happen again.

Email the Editorial Board at [email protected] A version of this appeared in the Monday, Oct. 30, print edition.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “‘Shemale or Female’ Quiz Unacceptable”

  1. Jane on October 30th, 2017 9:15 am

    The student apologized for calling Sorbello an asshole. There’s some offensive barbarity for you.

  2. maureen on October 31st, 2017 7:51 pm

    The lecture was supposedly about sexual dimorphism — which is a condition only seen in animals and plants. ”

    I don’t know if the author is implying humans don’t have sexual dimorphism? In Biology, humans ARE animals and we absolutely have sexual dimorphism. If not, men and women would be physically identical and there would only be 1 sex.

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