And though she may be but little, she is fierce…

IMG_0474What came next was the promise of closure. My professor asked if she could forward my paper on to the current chairwoman; she had a background in management and would be solution focused. I felt this would be an appropriate next step to help find a positive outcome to this unfortunate situation. At this point there was a portion of our papers that had not been graded; therefore our grades had not been posted.

The idea that anyone could be colder than former chairwoman seemed impossible. I underestimated women in positions of power. She placated me by listening to my story, her years of experience made it natural to look me in the eye with warm kindness while waiting to coerce me into changing my paper.

I understand now why she pulled out the big guns. She spoke to the fact that my paper “may be considered slanderous” and “threatening”. She told me it was unprofessional. She said that there was no reason to include such personal information in a scholarly paper (though it clearly explained to include the impact of the issue on your own nursing career in the paper outline). I now know she was scared of what could happen should my story be shared. Since yesterday, over 1000 people have viewed my blog post. Clearly, my paper had an important message. I was told I would remove the names I included (from emails sent to me) in the paper and that it would be removed from the online paper submission database turnitin.com. I now regret agreeing to the demands. But when a substantial portion of my grade was tied to the paper and it had yet to be documented, I couldn’t risk receiving a zero.

Though the aspect of the meeting regarding the changes to my paper infuriated me it was the attack on my pregnancy and student experience that hurt deeply. I had expected to discuss what happened and to be listened to. Instead, I was told that “other students in my situation may have scheduled a C-section” to be able to meet the time frame of the course. I was shocked. I was still grieving the loss of my envisioned natural birth. My response was tearful, “That’s how it ended”. The chairwoman looked at me, smiled, and said “Well you are pretty small.” If all of my previous interactions with the department had not been painful enough, I now was able to add the violation of my sexuality and capabilities to the list. She suggested that I meet with the original perpetrator to “put this all behind me”.

I never had a single intention of meeting with the other woman. Instead of finding closure and support I found myself discriminated once again, this time for voicing my rights to fair and equal treatment. My paper was never slanderous, nor threatening; it was the truth. Just as my body was underestimated by a doctoral prepared Registered Nurse in the position of Chairperson my strength to fight for what is right was too.

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