I Am Not A Girl – Oct. 13, 2015

***In October of 2015, I wrote this piece that a friend of mine then shared on Psychology Today. Writing this was a big part of my road to coming out, my self discovery, and figuring out my gender. I wanted to share this again, to bring it home to Living Queer, because it belongs here too with my story. It helps tell my story. And I am so thankful to Sarah Fader for sharing it on Psychology Today and letting my voice be heard, helping me come out when I felt scared of the world around me.***

I Am NOT A Girl

2015

You look at me and see “girl.” Yet, when I look in the mirror, I see no gender. I only see me.

We, as a society, have gotten into this nasty habit of labeling people’s gender and from there, we pre-judge them and hold them to certain standards based on what gender we perceive them to be. In reality, that label might not fit them.

Is it so difficult to look at someone and simply see them as human?

When you look at me, you see a girl. Before ever saying one word to me, before ever getting to know me as a human being, you begin to hold me to artificial societally imposed beauty standards that I could never (and would never want) to reach. In your mind you already have judged the way I should act, how I should talk, and with whom I should talk to. Because I am a female, you have an idea of how I should dress and the way that I should walk down the street. You think you know what books I should read, what my interests should be, and the music I should listen to. You think you know me.

Yet, you don’t know me at all.

Society imposes the same gender restrictions on men. We look at a man and already have a preconceived notion of how he should act; he should be masculine and be able to carry something heavy so he can display his strength outwardly. We too, hold men to these impossible beauty standards; they must have a six pack, their cheek line needs to be to die for. Men’s hair should be clean cut, or perhaps resemble one of those models with a man bun. Unless the aforementioned man is a lumberjack, he should be clean-shaven at all times. A man’s voice should be deep and his interests should be automotive in nature. Men should talk about manly things. Oh it’s cold outside? Well they should give their jacket to a girl, because that’s what society expects men to do.

I am not a man. I am also not a girl.

What happens when you actually speak to me?  When you get to know me, when you see that I do not act, dress, or hold myself to these unattainable beauty standards? What will you say when you realize I am not interested in the things you believe I should be? Or that I have a passion for cars?

Let me answer that for you. You say I am less of a woman or that I need to learn how to act like a woman. This is something I hear almost everyday. I see those looks that you give me and I hear you tell your kids to stay away from me.

The things we say to those boys with a soft touch, the ones who are more in touch with their feminine side, we would be better cutting their balls off completely. What society tells these young men is enough to castrate them. “Learn how to be a man,” and “You’ll never be a man, you are just a boy.” We teach them, drill it into their heads, that they are less of a man because they are in touch with their feminine side. They are inadequate, no good, and will never amount to anything because they aren’t a “real man.”

What kind of world do we live in where we believe it to be ok to say these things to young boys?

2017

Gender is a social construct. “If you are born with these parts you must act this way.” Where is the handbook for being a girl? I think I lost my copy when I was born.

The moment anyone steps outside of what society deems acceptable for men and women, they are thought to be less of a man or women.

God forbid you actually identify as something other than a man or women, as I do, because then you hear things like, “You must not have been able to make it as a woman,” or “Oh honey, you don’t need to make up a gender in order to feel better about yourself. Just lose the men’s clothes and try wearing a little more makeup.” Let’s not forget, “You must have been raised by your father,” and finally “Tomboys are only cute when they are little kids.”

So tell me this, why is it that we constantly pre-judge someone’s gender and hold them to impossible standards? Who decided how men and women should act? Has there ever been someone who met every single one of the standards we hold each other to?

These standards are outrageous and we as a society have grown out of them.  We need to start respecting each other, and our individuality, without holding each other to impossible standards that no human being can meet.

I hope there will be a point in time when we realize that everyone can be masculine and feminine all at once.

I hope one day, I will get to live in a world where I am not told to get out of the bathroom because my hair is short, I’m wearing an oversized flannel shirt, and people think the part between my legs belongs in the men’s’ bathroom.

One day, I hope to live in a world where people are praised for being individuals, and not held to gender standards they can never reach.

You look at me, and you see a girl. But I look in the mirror and see no gender. I see my reflection smiling back at me, because I don’t hold myself to society’s ridiculous standards.

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Fighting Pass Culture in 2017

I have written about pass culture so many times, you would think it is my biggest nemesis. Maybe because in so many ways it is. It’s my kryptonite.

So, what is pass culture? To sum it up really, it’s this belief that a trans person must pass as cisgender to be valid. And as toxic as this belief is, it affects so many of us. For a trans woman, it’s wanting to be seen as a woman and not trans woman. It’s wanting to be seen for who you are without having the world around you seeing you as “a man dressing up as a woman,” or “a man dressing in drag.”

For a nonbinary person as myself, it could be wanting to look as androgynous as possible. Or it could be wanting to pass as female one day or male another.

“It’s a dangerous world away from this virtual space in which I and so many others often take refuge. There are days when the threat of transphobic treatment seems so real that I simply refuse to leave the house: Who will attack me this time for using the women’s bathroom while dressed androgynously? Who will call me namesor be so intimidated by me that they physically assault me? Who will sexualize, fetishize, or sexually assault me?” – “Do I Pass?”: Navigating Perfomances Of Genderfluid Identity on Ravishly  

This toxic belief that we have to pass in a binary world that we don’t fit in, can choke us in a way that takes away any will we have to fight back. For me, and for so many others, pass culture is a survival strategy.

I have been choked by this toxin for so long, that fighting wasn’t even something that I ever thought myself to be capable of. For the past two years, I have promised myself I would be as true to myself as I possibly could be.

But to be completely honest, I have been terrified of showing the world who I am. The world is such a dangerous place. While I have tried so hard to express myself in every way I could, I have fallen short on so many levels. Often, I don’t wear what I want; I wear what I feel will be safe. Sometimes, it’s health reasons. I just don’t feel good enough to get dressed and do my hair and makeup. More often than not though, even if I did feel up to it I wouldn’t.

“What will the world see? Just a girl going through a punk phase.”

A faint voice in the back of my mind will tell me not to care, that I am not happy being so bottled up. Yet, I don’t have it in me to try to open up.

I thought coming out as trans would help, that being honest with myself and everyone around me about being a femme guy would mean I would have the strength to be myself. Wear what I want, do the wild makeup looks my heart desires, the crazy hair colors that make me so happy.

However, it took 2016 for me to develop that strength.

It took the Pulse shooting. It took watching hate and bigotry winning the presidential election. It took a bathroom bill being passed in a state that I travel to often. It took nearly daily mini breakdowns for me to finally break that bottle.

Fighting pass culture in 2017 will be one of my many fights to show that hate won’t win, we will be stronger, we will rise above.

It took fear of my life, the lives of my dear friends, and the realization that I can’t fight the hate when I still live by it, for me to start truly fighting pass culture.

So, this is me taking a vow not to live by hate in 2017. I won’t let bigotry control how I act and dress and express myself. I won’t live by what everyone else expects me to. I will be as true to myself as I can be. Sometimes our silent fights against the system can be our strongest, right?

I don’t recommend everyone take this vow, nor am I calling for anything like that. This is simply me talking about my own goals for 2017. And my biggest is to not let the bigotry of others control how I express myself or exist.

In 2016 I wrote, “But I still get dressed, look at myself in the mirror, and ask myself, “Do I pass?”’

This year, I will look in the mirror, and when that question appears, I will give it a big fuck you!

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Deleting People Off Facebook And Why I Don’t

As I am sure you can all imagine, because I feel our Facebook feeds are probably all filled with it in one way or another, every time I click on to Facebook I am greeted by messages of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and Islamophobia.

Often I will post about various posts I see on my Facebook feed and I will rant with friends. Even commenting on people’s post, I am often met with messages of “just delete me then” or “why the fuck we friends then bitch”. Nearly daily I see people posting about deleting long term friends over these things. Since the election, my feed is nearly always filled with posts that anger me and make me anxious at the same time.

But, I never delete the people posting these infuriating things. And I have a lot of reasons why.

Firstly, I would like to note that I am not at all against the delete button. A lot of my marginalized friends have become best friends with the delete button because it is what they need for their mental health, and I find it admirable that they make the decision to love themselves and realize they need to take care of themselves.

Even I have nearly deleted people because they caused my anxiety to grow so deeply it nearly took roots in my day to day life online. 

“There are no safe spaces for us. I can’t unfollow people who don’t like black people in real life.”- Jasmine Banks at BlogHer 16

This one statement had such a huge impact on me and why I started avoiding the delete button and actually addressing the issue. Because deleting people doesn’t mean that the hate doesn’t exist, it only gives you the advantage of pretending it isn’t real. You can pretend that it doesn’t happen or that the people you know would never be that way.

 

And I think especially for cishet white people it can be the easy solution because you get the ease of deleting people and continuing on with your life. But we don’t have the privilege of walking away every time those post become real people harassing us.

Having people who post homophobic, transphobic, racist, and sexist things lets me be aware of what these people think.

I know that it may seem pointless, but over the past two months as the election really heated up, I have become so much more aware of who my true friends. Some people that I deeply valued in my life have posted about LGBTQ rights in such disgusting ways, that I realized they could never have true respect for me. And it was something I would never have known if it wasn’t for social media being an outlet for people to express their opinions. I guess that is both a good and bad thing.

But even more so, not deleting people who are posting these things has helped warn me of who in my area has malicious feelings towards people like me. It is like they are taping a “I am an asshole” sign to their foreheads. That statement is fully about the people who are downright and deeply homophobic, sexist, racist, and so forth. Those people who find every opportunity to tell marginalized people that they are scum.

It’s like a beacon.

The best outcome from avoiding the delete button, has been the conversations on these posts. Because of some of these conversations, I have created a little group of people I feel safe with in my area. It allows me to see the people who will speak up and against the assholes.

I am learning tolerance.

While I have always considered myself a rather tolerant person, and I encourage opinions to be shared; I get extremely heated if those opinions hurt a group of people. And my top will fly right off. I am outspoken, and the world around me has truly made me scared for being this way.

But keeping these people as friends on facebook and engaging in peaceful (at least on my side) conversation has truly helped me find the middle ground between attacking the attacker and working to educate in a productive way that doesn’t include wasting my time. I am finding conversations on topics I am passionate on aren’t as one sided as they were when I was simply having them with my fiance and best friend. Now, these conversations are happening in a place they need to; a place I have a chance to make a difference.

I don’t post often on my personal account. I leave the SWJ stuff for my Facebook Page. But even so, I have had young friends reach out that something I posted changed their view slightly. And in that, I feel successful as an activist and advocate.

Now that being said, I don’t give trolls my time of day. People who are repeatedly ignorant and unwilling to learn, I simply ignore while understanding that I won’t reach everyone. Sometimes I will comment, not to interact with them, but with someone else who is advocating for the side on which my opinion and feelings lay. To help them with their argument, show them I support them, or to even just comment on them pointing something out I hadn’t thought of.

Building community in a time like this, I feel is super important. And I feel that showing support to those expressing their feelings is really important. Especially when they are trying to fight for rights and respect. 

“Shout out to everyone in my local area that I grew up with not giving a shit about LGBT rights. I now know exactly how you feel about my existence and couldn’t careless. 🖕🏼” – Me

To sum it up, if you can delete someone from Facebook and completely forget their racism, homophobia, ect., you have privilege. And it’s one not all of us have. So in a time when you could possibly make just a small impact whether it’s changing someone’s opinion or supporting someone who is trying to fight for rights and respect; do it.

However, I am not saying that you in any way need to keep people on Facebook who are harassing you, harming you in any way (emotionally being the big one I can think of), or in general is raising your anxiety. Especially if you are a person of color, trans, LGB, or any other marginalized identities. Because safety and self care are really important.

Just think about it next time you scroll over the delete person. And keep in mind that it is a privilege to delete someone and not deal with the hate and discrimination in person. Not all of us can avoid it that way.

You do what you feel you need to. But for me, and my activism, staying friends on Facebook with people who are complete asshats is a way to acknowledge my privilege and know who some of the people who are likely to harass me in my face to face life are.

 

 

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Thoughts and Fears of A Queer Teen in 2016

*Note: These are my raw feelings about this year and what I have learned and it is largely based on my perspective as a queer teen still working on stepping out into the world. I have debated with myself for weeks about writing this, but I feel at least today I need to. Because I want people to understand what queer people in their lives are thinking and feeling, or at least may be thinking and feeling. My age is part of the reason I have withheld from writing about this, but at the same time the decisions made today will directly affect me and others my age thus my voice has a right to be heard.* 

Dear who ever is willing to listen,

I would really like to address something that some of you may consider to be a personal issue, as I have been told on Facebook before, but I think is an issue of our country. People of marginalized identities are scared.

Now I know that so many of you really don’t care. You are voting for Trump because you feel like him constantly speaking whatever is on his mind is amazing. “Wow, we will finally have a president who has a spine,” are some of the things currently going through your mind as you stand in line to vote today. And while I may be writing this too late, I still want you to know what your vote has done.

When you vote for Donald Trump and Mike Pence, you are declaring you support them.

Basic enough right? So how about telling that every teenage girl who gets sexually harassed at a young age because people look at women like an object. After all, Trump did say his status as a celebrity gives him the right to do just that; sexually harass women. Let alone the fact that he is being accused of rape.

I want you to know, you terrify me.

Everyone who supports Donald Trump and Mike Pence, utterly terrify me.

Mike Pence, someone who wanted to move funding from HIV/AIDS to conversion therapy, which is something that results in suicide 50% of the time. He has very openly disagreed with LGBTQ+ rights and thinks people should be able to deny service to someone based on their sexuality. He even claims that LGBTQ+ people in the military will hinder the military and it’s performance.

Donald Trump tries hard to win over the queer vote, yet says he would overturn same sex marriage.  But most importantly he supports the First Amendment Defense Act, which gives people the right to discriminate against LGBTQ+ for religious reasons.

And while the thought of his presidency scares me, nothing scares me more than the hatred his running has truly brought to light.

I don’t blame Donald Trump for the hate, not fully at least. That hatred existed already. But he fueled it, he made people think it was ok to outwardly express it, and he made the masses come together to form a big group of racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic people who are more than willing to abuse others.

My screen is constantly filled with white cishet people constantly talking about rights that in no way affect them, and how others shouldn’t be allowed to have them. I am constantly seeing slurs coming across my computer screen, and I fear leaving the house. I fear how fear these people will take their borderline threats.

And all around me I see privileged people who aren’t afraid of a Trump presidency, and an envy grows inside of me. Envy for privileges I don’t have. Because while I am white, I have a home and am trying to build my own business, I have family support (to a degree), and I can somewhat pass for a woman; I am marginalized in other ways.

I am trans, I am queer, I am disabled to degrees, and I live with multiple mental illnesses. I am a survivor of abuse, I am a sexual assault survivor, and I am so scared.

Because I am watching people, so many people, in this world tell me that I don’t matter or deserve to exist in this world. That I am unimportant and below them.

I am so afraid of everyone around me..

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Special Snowflake: The Transphobic Slur

I believe that everyone hears slurs that bother them more than others. Maybe because of the slur being associated with a bad memory or because it hits a sensitive spot. Today, I learned that slur for me was “special snowflake”.

 

Maybe it being used for the millionth time against me today, was finally the straw that broke the camels back. Or maybe it is simply everything those two words imply. Either way, I have come to realize that this specific slur hits a nerve with me that I simply can’t ignore anymore.

Urban Dictionary has two definitions for  special snowflake and the first is, “The Special Snowflake (Also referred to as one with the “Special Snowflake Syndrome” or “SSS”) is a person who believes they are different and unique from everyone else because of something there are or do. This thing they are or do, most commonly is something is something many many other people are doing, E.G. Genderfluid, Therian (Otherkin), etc. Special Snowflakes almost always have a superiority complex.” 

This definition in itself should show why this term is harmful. For example, the person defining it says that they feel “special” because of something they do that so many other people do. While I can’t speak for everyone in the transgender community (note that when I talk about the trans community it includes all identities that full under the trans spectrum), but special is far from what I and so many of my trans friends have felt. Scared, broken, unloved; those are some things I have felt. But special? Never.

But the last sentence of the definition is what gets me the most, because I know it is how so many people feel when they are calling people in the trans community “special snowflakes”. Transgender people having a superiority complex. How do you possibly think that a group of people who are harassed, sometimes beaten, murdered, and disowned by their families, would have a superiority complex? We are superior because of what exactly? Because of our struggles to accept ourselves and battles for the basic right to pee?

That one sentence reeks of privilege, and fear of losing that privilege. That’s what I hear when someone calls me a “special snowflake”; someone who is uncomfortable when asked by minorities for basic rights and respect. Someone who doesn’t like to look in the mirror and see privilege because they are scared that it would mean they might have to give it up.

And when a young teen or even older adult is brave enough to talk about their struggles with self and with finding words to describe themselves, they are called special snowflakes by random people, usually across a computer screen, for venting? Because talking about who we are apparently means we are desperate for attention.

Often times people use the slur when talking about identities that don’t fall under the binary male and female. Even other trans people who identify as male or female sometimes call nonbinary identities “special snowflakes”. As people continue to debate if more than one gender exists, the slur gets thrown around to describe anyone who doesn’t exist inside the binary world.

And it can make people who are questioning, continue to struggle in silence out of fear. When you tell a trans person of any identity that they are a special snowflake, you are really saying they don’t deserve a space to feel safe. You are saying they are liars, don’t exists, and simply acting out.

Despite the fact that various cultures have acknowledged multiple genders, people continue to insist that gender is male or female. Separating gender from sex seems to be the biggest struggle in educating people about the gender spectrum. Even people who believe in crushing gender roles have a hard time grasping why feel the need to use something other than our sex to describe who we are.

Thus, they rely on the special snowflake syndrome because it is easier to call us names and label us with rude slurs, than to acknowledge we exists.

So why does this slur bother me more than others like tranny? Because at least when you call me a tranny you acknowledge my existence.

Special snowflakes? Or your inability to accept something you don’t care to educate yourself about? Better yet, do you call us names so that you can feel better about your privilege while you shove it down people’s throats.

Personally, I think it is used to invalidate people because it makes the user feel better to hurt people.

As for why I consider this a slur, to be frank it fits the most basic definition: it is an insinuation used to hurt people. And sadly, it’s a term used to hurt a lot of communities, not just the trans community.

 

 

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Cis People Talking About Transgender Identities?

For those of you who keep up with the LGBTQ+ YouTubers, you may already know about this video by Arielle Scarcella and JaclynGlenn that has stirred up quite a bit of controversy. Mostly because the two took it upon themselves to talk about gender and their limited perception of it. Why is this so horrible or receiving so much attention? A few reasons I suppose, and one of those is the fact that Arielle is a self proclaimed LGBT advocate. And one who has a lot of power to influence people.

Why do cis people insist on talking about transgender topics?
Especially when they are so uneducated on them.

 

As someone whose existence is summed up as being a feminine trans guy, I personally felt horrified by this video, but it reminded me of so many other cisgender people who take it upon themselves to talk about gender or try to include trans people and fail so miserably. Sam Dylan Finch wrote about this exact thing very recently, and because he covered it so perfectly, I won’t continue on, but urge you to read it.

But I want to talk about cisgender people in the LGBT community who talk about gender identities. Because that is what is truly harmful to our community in a whole.

Some of the people who have commented in defense of Arielle and Jaclyn have said that the video was obviously a somewhat spur of the moment decision and they hadn’t researched the topics much prior. Whether it was a spur of the moment decision or not, I disagree with it being something they hadn’t thought through or researched. Even Arielle mentioned watching a video by someone who was nonbinary.

What bothers me, is that people think that because she is an LGBT advocate, she speaks for our community in its entirety.

And people think because someone is in the LGBT community, if they say something transphobic then it’s ok to say. I want everyone to know that just because someone who is gay, bi, or any other sexuality, says something transphobic; it doesn’t mean it’s ok to say or that it isn’t harmful. Just as someone who is trans saying something homophobic isn’t ok.

Both ladies did indeed make transphobic comments. And as so many other cisgender people have done, they pretend having transgender friends means they can’t possibly be transphobic. It’s done all the time, people pretend having friends who are black, trans, gay, ect. means that they aren’t racist, transphobic, or homophobic. Honestly, for self proclaimed feminist, they should know better.

At the end of the day, if you don’t understand it, research it and try to learn.

But Arielle instead told someone that they should try to educate her instead of send “shade”. Which only further shows privilege. No one owes you, no one is required to educate you, and you should work on educating yourself with the many available resources we have online today.

The entire video was problematic, but the root of the problem boiled down to two privileged cisgender women taking time to explain how they don’t believe nonbinary genders are real or any gender that varies from male and female aren’t real simply because they don’t understand them.

Arielle made an apology video, in which she claims she understands now more that gender is more about feeling and that she sounded like people when the term lesbian came out. Honestly, I take her apology with a grain of salt until I see more. She also talked about how she still has to learn and grow.

Finally something I agree with, advocates do have to learn and grow. We can always improve and there are always things we could do better.

Jaclyn sort of made an apology video? I mean take it how you will. But I had to stop watching her defend her uneducated commentary as anything other than that.

To sum it up, the video this post has been about is a wonderful example of why cisgender people should educate themselves about trans topics before talking about them. Especially when those people claim to support or are advocates for the LGBT community. And always be thoughtful of whether or not the conversation they are having is theirs to have.

 

 

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When Your “Identity” Changes and You Feel Lost

I have tried to write about this so many times, but the words never seem to truly describe this journey in figuring out who I am.

For months now, I have been struggling with something that I thought I wouldn’t have to struggle with anymore;
my gender.

 

When I was in middle school, I learned what transgender was for the first time… It blew up in my face when I told my friend at the time that I thought I was transgender and the friend completely rejected me and pretended we had never met.

At the time, I felt like the term didn’t fully fit me. While, I didn’t feel 100% like a guy, I did feel like a guy in so many ways.

After being rejected in that way, I closed off those feelings and vowed never to tell anyone again that I was transgender. Because I was so scared of what it meant, and everyone else in the world would reject me the way my friend had.

Somehow, a few years later I got up the nerve to come out as genderfluid. I thought I could finally relax and just be myself. But at the time, I was in a relationship with someone whom I felt like I couldn’t be myself with. And while I struggled with finally accepting myself, I couldn’t help but feel like my boyfriend of the time wasn’t attracted to me any longer. And I started avoiding being myself around him.

After the relationship ended, I started exploring who I was again, and I felt lost.

Genderfluid never seemed to fit me, at least not in a way I felt truly described who I was. Sure, my gender seemed to move, and by move I mean I seem to fall somewhere between gender neutral and a guy.

But after months of calling myself a genderfluid person, I felt completely distanced from myself.  Even using the term nonbinary, I felt like I still wasn’t properly representing myself.

I was lost and so scared of the outcome that I deep down knew was coming.

I am transgender and nonbinary.

While deep down I have known this for years, I couldn’t tell myself. Even when I came out to my fiancé and through so many conversations about gender, I always described myself as a feminine guy. Yet, I still felt so uncomfortable calling myself a transgender guy or even really using the term transgender without explaining that I mean I fall under the umbrella of being trans because I am nonbinary.

But the lost feeling became overwhelming.

For a while, I questioned if I was just a confused cisgender girl. I even thought about selling my website because I thought it wasn’t fair that I write about queer life when my life isn’t all that queer at all. A staple in my identity as a queer person has always been more about my gender and less about my sexuality. And I felt like I was lying to everyone who even glances at the website.

And as I continued to talk to my fiancé about all of my feelings, I realized that it was time for me to accept who I really was.

When I was in middle school, I learned what transgender was. And after facing heart breaking rejection, I got scared of being transgender. No longer am I afraid of the world rejecting me. Because at the end of the day, I have someone who will never reject me. I have my family, my fiancé, and most importantly I have myself. Because I finally believe in myself and trust myself. And I am comfortable with who I am.

My existence is simply a feminine guy.
And that is fine.

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Why I Won’t Use Gender Identity Anymore

For the past year and a half since I came out, I have constantly said “I identify as a nonbinary trans person.” And honestly, I am so tired of saying it. Even in my writing I always said gender identity this and gender identity that. But I won’t be saying gender identity any longer for a number of reasons, which mostly come down to something that is extremely important to me and others; validation.

how-to-throw-a

I want to start by explaining that I, like so many other advocates and allies, am still learning. And when I first started blogging about my queer life, I felt like saying gender identity was a way to make cis people happy with me, or at least a little happier with me. And now, I have realized that I shouldn’t care about making cis people feel comfortable with my existance. When I first started my advocacy work, I thought making people feel comfortable around me would maybe change their minds about LGBTQIA people. And while I still feel that educating people about our existence and us can help, I have grown so tired of risking my own comfort and happiness.

Let’s talk about the actual term gender identity.

Gender is about your sense of self. If you feel like you are a guy, you are a guy. If you feel like you are a girl, you are a girl. And if you feel like you are both, then you are both. It is honestly that simple, except it also isn’t simple right? Figuring out how you feel about your gender can be so complicated and part of the reason may be because everybody has different experiences when it comes to gender.

But identity? What is so wrong with it? A quick google search will tell you that it has two definitions, and the first is a perfectly lovely definition. But the second, it shows what some of the basic issues with “gender identity” can be. “A close similarity or affinity.” Think of it this way, if you told a cis person that they were their gender because they had an affinity for it, it would piss them off right? Let me answer that, yes. So what should make it different for a trans person?

More than anything though, it seems so redundant. Gender identity is essentially the same as gender. Gender is your sense of self, so what does gender identity even really mean? You identify as how you feel?

Is gender identity harmful in itself?

No, and plenty of people use it openly. But not everyone does or is comfortable with it. And I happen to be one of those people. Though, I won’t get offended if someone uses it with me, I truly prefer it not be.

But personally, I think it helps support the stigma that your gender is the same as your sex. Because as I said above, gender is about your sense of self and how you feel. Yet, so many define it as being synonymous with your biological sex. And I personally have worked really hard to educate people, especially ones in I consider acquaintances, on this difference. Yet, I feel like I am hurting that by saying “gender identity” this and “gender identity” that when gender is based on psychological feeling of self.

So why do I not like it?

Other than feeling like it promotes the stigma of gender versus sex, let’s start with the fact that I hate how it feels like I am having to justify calling myself trans, nonbinary, and frankly even bi+. I would much rather say “I am trans” than “I identify as trans” which for me feels like I am asking for permission to be trans.

But even moving on from having to feel like I have to justify myself, it takes away from my own sense of validation. I feel like I am not a real trans person if I only identify as one. Does that make sense to anyone? I would love to know if anyone else understands that feeling! 

So what does all this mean?

Langue is a very tricky thing and words have many meanings. Not everyone is comfortable with terms that other people may be comfortable with. And it can be a simple discomfort or triggering a major panic attack. Either way, people deserve your respect and that should include not using a term around them if they aren’t comfortable with it.

I am personally a lot happier saying, “I am a nonbinary trans person who also happens to be bisexual.” And that should be fine.

On this blog, articles personally written by me will refer to someone’s gender as their gender and not their gender identity. It may not be a big and important change for many people, but for me it is a small victory but a victory nonetheless. I am working on educating while also not risking my own comfort or the possible comfort of one of my readers who may fall on the trans spectrum. Because first and foremost, as an advocate I am here for and to help those I am trying to give a voice. And in this case, that is the LGBTQIA+ community.

 

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Trans Isn’t A Costume And You Are Not Funny

It’s getting closer and closer to Halloween, and I am seeing more and more posts on social media about various costumes that scream “I am a privileged asshole.”

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Oh, you didn’t realize how you dress or dress up your kids could say such a thing on a holiday that is meant to be fun?

Except, when you are dressing them or yourself in costumes that are racist in some way, you and your child get to take that costume off. And the people of color around you get a glimpse of what you see when you see them. However, this article isn’t about racism. I implore you to read and truly listen to the words of these posts: Is Your Halloween Costume Racist by Kat Lazo and I was that girl on Halloween– Here’s how I learned my lesson by Alden Wicker.

However, today I want to talk about costumes that are extremely transphobic and tell the trans people around (out or not) that you see them as a joke. enhanced-28093-1440440436-2

I mean really people? Tranny Granny? REALLY?

But anyways, here it is from the mouth (or fingers) of a transgender person. It is not ok to dress as a transgender person. EVER. If you are not trans, if you are not questioning your own gender, then you have no right to dress up as one of us. Especially for Halloween because you think it is funny.

Because as the morning comes, you get to take it off and have a laugh scrolling through pictures from the night before that your friends and you took. You get to laugh because it was sooo funny for you to dress up as the opposite gender right? It is so funny to see a trans person right? That’s the statement you are making. Our existence is a joke to you and your friends.

And as you take your costume off, we wake up and get dressed the same way we did the day before Halloween. And we wait for the jokes about Halloween being over. We wait for the comments about how funny that one guy was because he was dressed as a woman. We squirm in our seats because we are so uncomfortable around you now. For some reason, you find your costume clever. As if people haven’t been dressing up as trans people to make fun of them for years.

Halloween is supposed to be scary, and your “funny” costume is just that; scary.

Because our reality is scary. It’s something out of a horror book if you ask me. Kids thrown out of their homes at young ages, and housing being denied. Being murdered in the streets at horrific numbers because someone doesn’t agree with “our way of life” and I put it in quotes because so often people say it as if it was a choice we made. We decided to be trans so that we had to look over our shoulder at every turn because we constantly see titles in our news feeds that read “The number of trans murders rise again.”

And seeing you dressed that way, we wonder if you will be the next to break and kill one of us.

I hear you typing, “Oh calm down it’s just a joke.”

But let me ask you if it’s funny to dress up as you and parade around making jokes about who you are as a person. Especially when you already have targets on your back.

And at the end of the night, you take off that costume. But we have to live with the snide comments, the harassment, and the number of trans deaths constantly rising.

Your trans costume is insensitive, uneducated, and harmful. Rethink it, for the sake of the trans people around you, and those who may not be out that you are scaring into not coming out. Trans isn’t a costume, and your joke is old, done, and just not funny.

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Coming Out in the Wake of The Pulse Shooting

Today, October 11, is the 28th anniversary of National Coming Out Day. And while I want so much to celebrate everyone who is using today to come out or who are sharing their stories of when they came out, what is really on my mind is what it means to come out in the wake of the Pulse shooting.

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June 12, 2016 49 people were murdered and 53 were injured in a shooting in a LGBTQ+ bar in Orlando Florida. This shooting also happened to take place on Latinx night. While the FBI hasn’t classed this as a hate crime, it was.

Emotions have been, and still are high since the shooting. Our community was reminded of the hate that exists for us out there in the world. And just how dangerous that hate can be. Some of us have been terrified to speak up, to be out and open, and to simply exist. Others have been afraid, but also empowered more than ever to fight the fights that still lay in front of us.

From the shooting to the people who protested the funeral of one of the victims to the tweets and posts condoning the killing, we are reminded that we are not safe.

For weeks, I didn’t want to leave my home. I found it harder and harder to correct people about my pronouns. Anything that meant people would know I wasn’t a heterosexul cisgender person made me extremely uncomfortable. For months now, ever since the shooting, even sitting down to write a post on any topic that touches the LGBTQIA spectrum, has taken me ages to write and even longer to actually hit the publish button. At times I go into full blown panic attacks when I see I have notifications or comments after publishing an article.

And now, it is National Coming Out Day, and I see people talking about how coming out is one of our strongest tools in the fight for rights. While I want to encourage people to come out, I understand more than ever why they don’t want to.

I, myself, am afraid of being out.

Seeing so many young people coming out in the wake of the Pulse shooting, has been amazing. The strength it takes when our newsfeeds are filled with stories of murders and protests, when we so concretely know that simply existing puts a target on our backs, makes a powerful statement.

It is a statement of “I am out and I will not stand for the slaughter of our community.”

Coming out in the wake of the Pulse shooting is a statement that we are still here and we won’t be silenced, we won’t be scared out of existence.

But it’s not a statement everyone is ready to make. And in no way am I saying that everyone who comes out is knowingly making that statement, but that is the statement that I and others see when we see you share your story. And it is heartwarming to see when we are struggling, when we are scared, when we feel backed into a corner, or alone.

The Pulse shooting is a reminder written in blood that we can not get too comfortable. That there are homophobic and transphobic people who are more than just words. And so many of us are still trying to go back to normal life, and still don’t know what normal is anymore.

Being out suddenly doesn’t feel safe anymore, when the media ignores our safety needs like it did and has done since the shooting. Not that it really felt safe before considering the laws made against us that also ignored our needs.

I had gotten comfortable. The homophobic and transphobic words thrown at me have been bothering me less and less, as I have begun to accept that I won’t be able to reach everyone and not everyone will like me. I had gotten comfortable with what I now consider mild hate, but this reminder written in the blood of my LGBT family has reminded me why I can never truly feel safe being out as a bisexual+ trans person.

So what does coming out and being out in the wake of the Pulse shooting mean? That we are stronger than ever despite attempts to tear us down. We are strong, we are here, and we won’t go away.

We are stronger than ever, because we are reminded we have to be.

 

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