Colorado Springs, CO
Accountant. Parent. All around badass.
With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know something was different?
“I don’t think that the gender binary has ever felt like it fit in any way whatsoever. I always felt super awkward in things that were supposed to be traditionally feminine or girly. It felt like I was performing my gender. And I never stopped to consider how gender pertained to me, specifically, until just recently. Which is interesting, because I’ve always considered myself an advocate for trans people, and the first person to stand up and say, ‘I just care very passionately about this for other people!’ Recently, just having gender non-conforming people in my life made me stop and think, ‘Have I ever actually thought and considered how this applies to me?’ I haven’t. I've just understood that this is what I am because people told me, and that is the story that is my life, and not questioned it or thought too deeply about it. The reality of my gender literally just sort of hit me mid-September. And it just made so much sense…”
On preferred pronouns…
“I'm pretty used to other people not honoring [my pronouns]... like people at my work have no idea that I use they/them pronouns... so, that happens on a pretty regular basis, and it's always just kind of like a yucky feeling. It's not super serious for me, the way it is for a lot of people, it’s just kind of like low-key gross… but again, I’m super used to it, so it’s not a big deal. I think it’s difficult that those who know me best, and I know want to make an effort, sometimes completely forget… so if I see them on a new day, it’s like getting misgendered all over again… It’s interesting recognizing that the people who know you the best still have a hard time meeting you where you’re at… despite their best intentions…”
How old were you when you came out?
“So, I never had to come out as queer… which is my sexual identity… because my mom was a badass. She raised us with our ‘gay uncles’, and it’s always been a given to me that you can love whoever you want, and that’s okay. Since middle school, people knew I was all about all the people… and that was fine and wonderful, and there was nothing really difficult about that, thanks to my awesome mom.
The gender stuff just came out this past September… so, two months ago when I was 30. Which, you know, could’ve been much later. Generally, it’s been fine. I'm lucky to be surrounded by a lot of super supportive and understanding people, socially. The family [side of things] is ...fascinating. I haven't really spoken to the family a lot about the whole thing, but I did put it up on Facebook... ‘Just so you all know!’ But it’s fine. They love me, and everybody does the best they can.
...it's important for me to be visible and live my truth in a very open way, because I'm super privileged in so many ways. I can do that, and I think it's important for other people who don't have the same privilege to see that and to know, ‘Hey, it’s OK…’ or other people who don't know yet potentially... like kids, so they can feel like, ‘Hey, I can be queer, it's f*cking awesome!’
Even when I was young, I realize now it wasn’t a conscious thing, but I’ve always been very open about it… almost in a challenging way, like, ‘This is who I am! If you don’t f*cking like it, come at me bro!’”
Biggest fears or concern about coming out…
“Initially, upon realizing that I identify in a gender non-conforming way, it was kind of a ‘Sh*t, this is going to be hard!’ moment… like ‘Oh, f*ck…’ Because I know the difficulties that come with talking to people initially about it, and then educating people on a regular basis… and then people not understanding. I'm not militant or super serious about forcing people to meet me where I'm at... if that's not where they are. But I knew it was just going to be a pain in the ass.
I think the second wave of thought that came with that understanding, was a feeling of imposter syndrome…Especially for me, I’m pretty low key in a lot of ways… I’m non-binary… I feel more agender than one particular gender… which I think is freeing for me personally. I don't have to express myself a certain way, or be perceived in a certain way in order to feel valid... which is a privilege for me. So with that comes, ‘Well am I queer enough to identify in this way? ...or, to feel like I'd like to be a part of this community? ...or, like I can even identify with some of what the community faces? Because I’m privileged AF… in so many ways, and I recognize that. So that’s where I go to… ‘What can I claim and embrace as a valid experience for me, whilst recognizing that I have it so much easier than a lot of people…’
Now, I’m out socially in a lot of ways, but at work, I actually just told two people just the other day… Well, I did [tell them]. Because they’re two people who have identified themselves as allies to the trans community, so they felt like safe people… and I asked them to not disclose that to anyone else, because that’s my current apprehension… because I work with a bunch of rich, white, middle aged, cis men. Talk about not understanding… I feel a lot of them might have difficulty wrapping their heads around some things that I’m processing at the moment. And I really just don’t want to deal with that.
Although, I am out as being queer AF at work. I taught them about ‘werk’... and ‘yaaas queen’... so I’m slipping in that queer sh*t on a regular basis. They know I’m queer, I just don’t want to f*ck with any gender stuff with them… it’s just too much…”
Favorite part about the community?
“I mean, family, right? ...the fact that you can find your chosen family among these other people who feel you... who know where you're at... and you can relate to... And, we can be amazingly supportive people with each other... to each other... for each other... compassionate... empathetic.... I think we're great f*cking people. I can't imagine how hard it must be for a lot of people without the sort of emotional support system that your community becomes... Without that, people to have a much harder time... and they suffer... Of course everybody suffers - but, it's more difficult to bear the weight of it all alone. There is an incredible family aspect to a lot of the community... Especially with the Internet now, regardless of geography or language even to an extent, we can reach out and connect with each other... and support each other... and share the weight...”
Frustrations within the community?
“I think, probably, just the tendency for us to further marginalize the marginalized. I think a lot of LGBTQ folks definitely have a hard time in so many ways with their family and society with their identity. It's a real struggle, and I think sometimes, because of that, some members can feel entitled to just choose to perpetuate bigotry ...and hate ...and transphobia ...It just fascinates me. I would think that the people who have experienced real serious discrimination on a regular basis would understand the need for empathy and compassion and the need to help their queer family. And, it seems like so many times a lot of people don't. That just baffles me and it makes me really sad, because if we can't show up for our family, and if we can't be the first people standing up for people who are experiencing something very similar to us, then who will?! How the f*ck are we going to expect someone else to do it, if we can't do it for ourselves? So, that's one of the most disheartening things about the community.”
What is something you would tell a younger you? Advice for anyone out there who feels like they can’t come out, or they don’t have a community to be a part of?
“I don't know that I have a lot of advice for younger me... it's been a journey for sure, but I sort of figured it out eventually. I haven’t really made any major, horrible mistakes... I guess I would probably find a way to tell myself that I'm worth the respect of enforcing my own space, and that I have the right and obligation to defend my bodily safety even when it's uncomfortable and disadvantageous. I would just take better care of myself.
For others… I think that is a very real concern for a lot of people. Sometimes not coming out is the best and safest course of action for sure. I would encourage people, if they feel that way and there's a real chance that they would be in any harm or danger, don't come out until you're safe... until you do find that community... and I would encourage them to seek it in whatever way that they can... to seek that community... in other queer folks or allies. Sometimes the way to do that is to broach the subject of queer issues... in some way that's safe, or not suspicious… so that you can identify who’s an ally. Which may be difficult, because you’re likely going to hear some horrible sh*t if you’re not at a place you can come out. That’s okay, protect yourself and keep looking for that community in whatever way you can. I really think it can be lifesaving. It’s a difficult search, too. In Colorado Springs we’re lucky because we have a meet up of queer folx (Queer Friends Colorado Springs - FB/MeetUp), and it's a great group of people and a really solid resource for finding friends and fitting in. So, if you can't find that logical family, as opposed to biological, sometimes you have to make your own community. Whenever you move, or feel safe coming out, or whatever… if you see a need for community, and if you're in a place eventually where hopefully will be safe to do so, create that community... because someone has to be the first one to step up and and say, ‘Hi I'm here!’ Someone's gotta take that first step... maybe it'll be you someday creating that community and helping others.”
What in your life are you most proud of?
“I think the real answer is being in a place where I can support my family by myself, because growing up as a child of a single mother, we were dirt poor, and she worked her ass off to provide for us… and I think that was kind of the point. So that we would have opportunities and freedom and abilities, that she didn’t. I’d like to think I did her proud…”
With the state of the nation and the world in its current state, what’s one thing you would change if you had the power?
“I think I would instill in people more empathy... deeper, more sincere, wider breadth of empathy... because I genuinely think if most people were able to truly empathize with the people that they have problems with, those problems would go away... because we'd see where people come from... and we would gain an understanding that everyone's been through some f*cked up sh*t... and we would be able to appreciate that more… and we'd be able to work with people more. I think so many of the differences that we have going both ways, up, down, sideways, forward, and back... we could find a solution to, if we could only empathize with our fellow humans and see where they're coming from.”