The bio has been up on the site in its current form for a while now, and it’s very unlikely anyone has seen it – but it bothers me enough to write a little piece that I can link to the bio for context. It would be nice if I could do the same to the “about” section of the ebooks… but we’ll start here.
The new bio uses they/them pronouns. However, those aren’t my actual pronouns. I feel bad about lying. No one uses they/them for me. No one sees me on the street and is mystified / unsettled / radicalized by the iconoclasm of my gender. No one is struck wordless by the inability to encapsulate my identity. They see what they see, they label it immediately, we’re done. I am not a sexy mystery, a sylphlike enigma. I’m not even an elfin type. I’m more of an orc. At best.
In other words, a gamine, fashion-forward 19-year-old with great hair who goes to film school and spends their days at protests… that’s not me. I support that person from far away. Rock on. You’re doing great. But that’s not me.
I spent five or so years picking everything about my gender apart, and ultimately had to conclude that I don’t tick all the boxes. I had to walk back all the stuff I pestered my past friends about on social media. An embarrassing mistake. A cautionary tale. I am nothing if not cringe.
It’s funny: I can put up with people using my real pronouns and name in the day to day. It stings, sure. Wears me down, drip drip drip. But it doesn’t grind me into an agonized paste. Still, though, it’s hard to bring myself to do that damage, however small it might be.
That’s my failing as an ally, I think. An area where I want to do better. I don’t want to steal queer valor or mislead people.
I think there aren’t many edge cases out there, or it’s hard to talk about us with bigger issues on the table and enemies at the gate. And it’s important to stay in our lanes and not talk over actual trans people and/or nonbinary people (some of whom define themselves as trans, and some of whom don’t – it’s an overlapping Venn diagram).
I just have minor things in common with the trans community: I don’t enjoy my assigned gender and wish it had been different. It takes a lot of energy to stand being myself, and I have to imagine a different self sometimes to be calm and happy (I realize this is not who I really am, it’s more like a visualization exercise). I was very disappointed with the specifics of how I had to grow up, starting in childhood and intensifying in adolescence.
Unlike trans people, however, I am not part of that community; I am not destroyed by living as my assigned gender; I did not have that inner voice that told me who I truly was from childhood on; I’m not fabulous and talented and unfairly maligned; I don’t have a close-knit circle of trans and queer friends; I don’t have great hair; I can’t dress myself worth a damn; I’m not an artist or an activist, I have a dead-end desk job; I’m dumpy and middle-aged and embarrassing.
I’ll strive to take this tiny grain of common experience and use it to try to be more empathetic, to stay in my lane and fight fellow cis people who use their one life on earth to be assholes. I’m not good at fighting. My innate unlikeability means that my presence in any fight makes my side look bad, so I try to pick my battles very carefully. But it’s all I can do.
(Someday I will write a story about a narrator who’s innately unlikeable in this way, but still tries to be a good person. It’ll be a ride.)
The bio stays for now. I’m doing my best and hope to do better in the future. Fuck TERFs and all other transphobes.
When in doubt, ask. It’s okay to respectfully ask.