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Trans Story Circle #1, January 22, 2020

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Caden DeLoach (CD): [Laughter] I have an icebreaker question, let me remember it. OK, I remember it. So, let's just do like name and pronouns, and then, if you had to choose between having the ability to speak all foreign languages in the world or having the ability to talk with animals, which would you choose? I can start [laughter and cross-talk], my name's Caden, my pronouns are they/them, and even though I think it would be like massively more beneficial/helpful to like speak all languages-like in my heart I would like rather talk to animals.

Quincy Meyers (QM): Yeah...Well, I'm Quincy. I use ze/hir/hirs pronouns. And-Oh, that's a tough one. I think right now I'd have to go with the animals. 00:01:00[Laughter] Yeah, it would be interesting. Well especially to be able to talk to, you know, one's pet, like a dog or a cat-would be interesting. Yeah.

Anonymous (A): I'm ------, he/him. I like to go to the Humane Society too much and the dogs make me sad when they're just sitting there, so I couldn't do it. It'd have to be just all the folks cause then also you can, like you could just do whatever if you could speak all the languages, that's pretty cool.

Juniper Alliston (JA): So for languages, is it speaking fluently or just understanding?

CD: No, like fluently. You can converse with like anyone, ever, on the planet.

JA: My name's Juniper, [laughter] I use she/her pronouns, and I would wanna speak every language. Yeah. I love animals. But also, I could go anywhere I want and know the language. I think that would be very cool. I wanna travel, so.....


Kate Schilke (KS): You could order breakfast anywhere

JA: Precisely... [Others agree]

KS: I am so with ya!

[Others express agreement]

KS: Hi, my name is Kate Schilke, I teach in Chemical Engineering. My pronouns are she/her/hers, and I would definitely wanna talk to animals cuz I think that they are interesting, people aren't.

CD: Yeah

KS: Just kidding [laughter]

[Someone else]: I mean, fair enough.

[Snap fingers]

KS: No, but think about everything you could learn. Y'know think about all the dirt you could get on people, think about, you could ask them 'what's wrong?' And they would actually tell you, 'why'd you pee on the bed? What actually happened last night?' [cross chatter, laughter] High on the list of things on my mind, so thank you for asking that.

Ray Wolf (RW): Hi, I'm Ray, I use he/him pronouns, and it's a really complicated question. I've been thinking about it. And I think I would go with animals, cuz I'm bilingual, and like, I can speak in pretty much, like best majority of the world. So like, I would just go with animals, and see what my cat meows so much. 00:03:00[Others express agreement] Or the dog.

KS: You're bilingual, you said?

RW: What flavors?

KS: Flavors?


KS: What are your languages?

RW: Spanish and English.

KS: OK, cool.

JA: OK, good icebreaker question. So today, our topic is going to be "coming in vs. coming out". In general, I think our identities, whether queer or trans, cis/heterosexual folks tend to expect us to come out, and want us to come out, even though it's not necessarily their right to know. Because we just exist, we can do whatever we want, and it shouldn't be an expectation that people have for us. And so, our topic is specifically about like, coming in to your identity, and you realizing things, and what kinda led you to meet yourself and know who 00:04:00you are. So, yeah, if anyone isn't chill with this question, we can also find another question.

QM: Or we can talk about maybe why it may not resonate with you. That could be an interesting conversation, as well.

KS: Could you repeat the question?

JA: Yeah, so instead of talking about-I mean, you could also talk about your coming out experience, so like coming out to people around you. But the goal is to be able to talk about coming in to your identity, and like realizing your identity, I guess. Does that make sense?

Others: Yeah.

JA: Cool.

JA: Who would like to start? [laughter] The other thing is because there's so few of us for this first one, I don't think we necessarily need a time limit. I can check what time it is, if we wanna do an art portion afterwards, we can 00:05:00figure it out.

QM: Yeah

CD: We can talk about other stuff too, [inaudible]

QM: Feel it out

JA: Yeah

KS: I have to be off campus by 7, I have family obligations, but that's neither here nor there though. Y'all can-

JA: Well, its 5:30.

KS: You'll be fine without me.


JA: We would not, no. Your presence is important.

QM: It is

JA: OK, who would like to start?



RW: [Laughing] Just need time to think about the question!

KS: Go team!


JA: I can start. I'll start.

CD: Yay

KS: Go June


CD: [Laughing] No one wants to talk in our story circle

JA: So, I will talk about both of my experiences. I'll talk about coming out first cause I feel like that one, has more bulk to it-it has more meat on the bones. So, coming out for me was really interesting because I came out like 00:06:00three different times, four different times-I'm not entirely sure. I came out as bisexual in like eighth grade, came out as gay in ninth grade, came out as non-binary freshman year of college, and then came out as a trans woman about a year and a half ago, I wanna say. That, and like identifying as queer as well.

And I don't know, it's really interesting because I have had very good experiences with coming out, which I'm very fortunate and privileged for. But I have a very accepting family, even when they're a little bit confused, specifically about me being trans, they still, like, just kinda let me do my thing, and I really appreciate that. But yeah, it's been interesting, just 00:07:00because so many of my friends are queer and trans and so it was just such a comfortable space to be able to come out to them. And like I've had this discussion with them as well, like - there shouldn't be a need to come out. You could just say, 'Hey, I'm going by this name. I'm going by these pronouns." And yeah, that was more or less my coming out experience. Nothin' too wild. Just, many coming outs.

Coming in to my identity, I think, I will go from freshman year of college to present. Well I guess I'll go end of senior year to present. So end of senior year I was like, I am not a boy, I don't know what I am, I don't know anyone who, like, feels the same way about me, like whether BTB or in person, so like I'm just very confused and uncomfortable in myself and like I don't know what to do. And then freshman year, I went to this Pride Center panel, before I started 00:08:00working there. And the panel was about non-binary folks, and one of them ended up being my boss later that year when I got hired at the Pride Center. And, it was so exciting and refreshing to learn about this identity, and I was like 'Holy shit! That's me!'. And so, from then on I changed my name. I went by a nickname-or derivate of my middle name. And then started using "they/them" pronouns, and it was very exciting to be like, "I'm not a boy! I'm not a boy! I love that, I love that for me."

And then you know, like, a year or so went by, and I was like "Hmmm, I'm thinking, I'm thinking". Cause, back in high school I was like, "I wonder what it would be like if I was a girl." You know, I wonder, I wonder. I'm very curious. There were a lot of like signs when I was younger about, you know, doing feminine things like having my baby sitter paint my nails or playing dress 00:09:00up with my aunt who's my age-we were like six years old. I don't know, teaching my mom how to sway her hips when she walks [laughter] because that's how to walk like a girl. You know, all of these things. At a baseball game, when I was probably eight years old I was just playing with these other children, who were at the game, who weren't paying attention to the game because we didn't care for baseball. And, I don't know, I just remember I got this one question-we were playing and then they stopped and they were like, "By the way, are you a boy or are you a girl?" And it was the most exciting question, it felt so good to, like-not necessarily be androgynous, but-to have folks not know. I think that was really exciting for me. And it was just like another vague hint about my excitement and about my identity that I would eventually come into. Unfortunately, I didn't, necessarily put the pieces together until much later.


Anyways, sorry for tangent-I do that a lot. Where was I? So about a year after I started identifying as non-binary, I was like "Something is still a little bit off. And I'm not sure what to do." I remember, I started thinking like, "What if I'm a trans woman? Like, I don't know how to feel about that, just cause I feel like I am, too old to start transitioning" and all that bullshit. And I met my friend, Dharma, who is my best friend now, and this was at the end of my sophomore year. Sophomore year? Yeah, my sophomore year of college. But, she, as I describe, gave me the last puzzle piece that I needed to discover my identity. All it really took was being close to another trans woman, to kind of realize like -this is, this is for me. This is what I want. This is who I am. And so, 00:11:00that summer I went home, came out to my close family - just the folks who I live with. Started my medical transition process at the end of summer. So I got like a really quick start, I started right before I turned twenty. And it was just fun. I was like, "Holy shit". It's really fun like, seeing myself become myself-you know, like looking more like who I am. [Laughs] I feel like that doesn't really make sense?

[Overlapping] KS: No, I think it does. / RW: I think it does

KS: Absolutely, it does


JA: When I look at myself in the mirror now, like not to be vain but I'm like, "Oooh! That's me. I love that." I get a lot of gender euphoria-like, I constantly get new forms of gender euphoria as I continue my transition. Like, every couple months my hair's longer and I look in the mirror and I'm like, 00:12:00"Holy shit, my hair is long". And then I look back at old pictures and I'm like "My hair wasn't all that long". But at the time, I felt so good about it because it was the longest that my hair had ever been. And so I know like, three months down the road, when my hair is even longer than it is now, I'm gonna look back at pictures from right now and be like, "Wow, my hair was not that long". Basically, I want my hair to be really long. But yeah, anyway. Yeah, so it was an interesting and very quick process. Once I decided on it, I was like, "This is it! This is what I'm doing! Right now!" Which is why I was able to like, get such a quick head start. And I've had friends tell me about their experiences like a couple years prior to my coming out, about the difficulties of like trying to get the letters that you need to even start transitioning. And, just 00:13:00with like what's going on now, I didn't need to do any of that. I just told my doctor, "Hey, I would like to start transitioning". And they started a couple weeks later, so again like another thing that I'm fortunate and privileged for. But yeah, so I feel like I'm constantly coming in to my identity. Like, the more and more it goes on - I just, I don't know [laughs] Have y'all seen the show Euphoria?

KS: No

RW: Not yet

QM: Heard of it, but haven't seen it

JA: OK, well there's this one character Jules, she's trans-amazing, love her. But there's this once scene where she just talks about how she just keeps levelling up, and like she doesn't know if there's a stopping point or anything like that, but it just feels good to like keep get - like, keep getting higher and higher and higher and higher. I feel like a lot of trans folks can like, understand and feel that, and like I definitely feel that very strongly. But 00:14:00yeah - anyway, I think that is all for me. Thank you. Who would like to go next?

[Short pause]

A: Mind repeating the question? After you -


CD: We're just talking about like, our experiences - you can talk about coming out but we also kinda wanted to hear about your process of internally realizing your identity, which usually comes a lot before coming out if you do that kind of thing. But, like what made you realize internally like, "Oh, I'm not what people are telling me I am". Or like, you know, what was that process of, like, the gears turning in your mind into maybe like taking physical steps to, you 00:15:00know, change something about you or come into that identity, like itself.

QM: Right. Another way to think about it might be, coming out to self. That process.

CD: Yeah. Coming out to yourself.

RW: I can go next, if [laughing] anyone wants to. OK, so my story, it's divided. I see two separated periods, and when I started actually being myself. And it's not that much about transitioning, it's more about my mental health but I will come there. It has its parts.

So, I was born - I grew up in Spain. And, you know, typical thing, I hated girly stuff, I hated being - not being with girls, but playing or doing the things that society said that they are for girls. I was always with the boys playing soccer, doing all those stereotypical shit. And until the point that I was 00:16:00sexually harassed and molested by a relative. And it was that time - I was eight years old, I started bring extremely afraid of men. Like, really, really, really afraid of men. So, the whole-I was not thinking that I was a boy at that time. In fact that all went away, and it was way, way harder for me to see it like that, since I was so afraid of them. I didn't wanna be one of them if I was so afraid of them. So, I had a really, really, really hard childhood after that. Before that I, don't really remember if I had a good relationship with my parents or family, I guess I did. But after that, I started changing, like, how 00:17:00I thought about people changed-like I remember having really, really, really bad nightmares. And then, when I turned twelve, I had a really best friend. In fact I believe, that's the first person I loved. I don't know in what way, but I just remember that I loved him....and he was killed in a car accident, and that point was when my mental health just started got, like-it was shit.

I don't know. I remember I was really, really lost during all those years. I didn't have anyone. I was pretty much alone. I started isolating myself. And I was just- I don't know-I was in a really, really bad space, and also, [sighs] adding to fact that I was doing a lot drugs, I was making a lot of bad-like, I didn't have many options. I was really, really fucked up, until - well, I 00:18:00started playing - well, sexuality, I first came out as a lesbian with 12 I think....my parents were not supportive. In fact, many of the people that I told were not supportive. Many of my friends just stopped talking to me. I was, again, alone. But yeah, I started just figuring out that being a girl was not my thing. I was definitely not a girl. I didn't know what I was because I have never had a sex talk. I've never had anyone that-like-I've never had anyone tell me that, I could be transgender. That I was valid. That's valid, that exists, didn't know any of that, nothing. Until I met a lot of my friends, the best 00:19:00people I ever met, in Madrid, the capital. I didn't live in the capital I lived in the suburbs, the outskirts. And I met them, and they were the first trans people I've ever seen in my life-I've ever had contact with. And, things started to make sense for me. Things that they would talk about, it resonated with me. I started seeing many things that like, I wanna be that. I felt comfortable with those people, and the terms that I saw myself in them. And, I started playing with pronouns. Pronouns in Spain are a little bit different, gender neutral doesn't exist- I mean it exists but people don't recognize it. So, I started going with "they/them", which is different, again. And, people in the community will mock about myself, cause it's not validated, like, it's not valid there. 00:20:00So, I immediately changed to male pronouns. And also, the gender neutral term, it didn't really make sense with me. Like, I didn't saw myself in non-binary. So I just immediately changed to male pronouns.

I remember one of the things that actually - I don't know-it impacted me a lot, was the first time I got a binder. My ex, I told her that I was trans, that I'm trans. And she got me a binder which was one of those copy binders with like - the typical corset thing - well, same thing in the binder. It was terrible. Worst binder I've ever had! [Laughter] But, I remember putting it in, and like looking at myself in the mirror, and like I start putting the pieces together, that made sense. And I was so happy like, I wanted to cry because I was so 00:21:00happy, I was like, "Oh shit! It makes sense!" And I was, like, sixteen, and well, I was still involved with a lot of drugs, I was drinking a lot, pretty much every day. And I had a terrible relationship with my parents. Terrible, like it was really, really bad. I was trying to get the hell out of there, as soon as possible. And that's when the opportunity came up for me to come to the States. I needed to get out of there and someone offered me the opportunity to come here-not in Corvallis specifically, but the States. And I took it. I was not OK living in Spain. So I came here and I end up living with this awesome family, like, the most supportive people I've ever met and the first people that 00:22:00actually validated me and treated me the way I wanted, without asking me questions. And also, like, that didn't make sense in the beginning. I was like, "Why are you not asking me questions? Why are you letting me go the boy's bathroom without asking me questions? Why are you letting me-I don't know-get boy clothes, without asking me anything?" So that was a really, really hard transition for me, cause I was not used to people being supportive. I've never had that, and now that I have it, it was weird. I was not-I don't know. And I was in a really bad mental space, I was getting sober. I didn't have any nicotine at all, which - it was not cool. And I didn't have medication which I really needed.


So I came out as trans when I was sixteen-ish. I started testosterone, at almost eighteen. It was all a coincidence, like, I didn't thought that I could get testosterone last year, cause it was last year I started it. I don't know if you all remember that Trump did something, like, a ban-he proposed a ban on trans people in the army or something like that. Well, that was really harsh for my mum's brother that is trans. So he brought a lot of trans people to his house and I was there. So I started talking to people, and that's how I got the resources and the information for me to go on testosterone. I didn't know if that was gonna be the answer-I had no idea. I was still really lost, even though 00:24:00I had my identity. I knew that was the path, but I didn't know if testosterone was gonna be actually the thing that was gonna completely resonate with me. But it did. It did, it really did. And even though it was a really, really hard transition, cause it doesn't go as fast as I wanted. And I really wanted people to not misgender me, to not call me by my deadname. I wanted people to see me the way I see myself. But, you know, it slowly happened. I got cis-passing, which is good and really weird at the same time. But, the thing that has proved me most is the fact that I don't have to be like them. Even if I have that tag, even if I consider myself male-if I am male, I don't have to be one of them. I 00:25:00don't have to be my perpetrator-both my perpetrators. I don't have to do the things that they do. I can, build my own masculinity. No one has to tell me how it has to be, it's only me. And, that's the most healing thing I've ever gotten to.

Like, it was really painful discovering that I was a dude. It was really painful, I really didn't want to be one of them. I really didn't want to. I didn't wanna make women feel the way they made me feel. I didn't wanna make people go through the things that I went through, I never wanted that for anyone. So now it makes sense, cause not all men are my perpetrators. But, there's still, like that pain and the fear. I don't think it's ever gonna leave, honestly. But it's healing. And, I don't know, coming out - like, out, was not 00:26:00as hard, even though all the rejection I got that is coming in, and making peaces with myself and not hating myself. Cause I did, for many years, that's why it did so many drugs, that's why I did the things I did. Because I hated myself. Because I couldn't bear all the things that the "trans" tag carries. Like, just for being trans you have to be a certain way, just being trans you're gonna get the rejection we get. And I, was not prepared for that cuz I've been so hurt through my whole childhood, adolescence, whatever - I was not ready to go through that. But, it's healing. Meeting community has helped me a lot. 00:27:00Meeting community that I've never had, it helps a lot. Having support, it also helps a lot. And I'm really glad I am in the position I am now, and as you said, like it's - honestly I don't think it's gonna stop building-I think it's just like, going up and up. And even though being trans is a really painful experience, I think it's also such a wonderful and beautiful experience. Like, not everyone can [laughs] - not everyone has the perspective we have, and that's unique, that's wonderful, honestly. And well, there's a lot of cis people that has asked me this before, like, "If you had to be like reborn again, would you be cis?" When I was younger I would have said "Yes". Now that I've seen and I've lived all that I've lived-no, I wouldn't change it. I wouldn't change a single thing. It's made me who I am and I'm proud of that. So yeah, that's my story. 00:28:00Thanks for listening.

[Snap fingers, clapping]

QM: Thank you

RW: Yeah

KS: I like the way you ended that

JA: Thank you for sharing

KS: I'm proud of that. That's awesome.

RW: [Laughing] Thank you

KS: You should be

JA: Who would like to go next?

CD: I can go

JA: Let's hear it

QM: Go for it

CD: For one, I just related so much to, like, when, you kind of realized you were trans masculine and being like - it's just very weird, being socialized as a woman and having really negative experiences with men, being like sexually abused or harassed and then coming into the realization that you are, kind of, that. I just related to that a lot, and just how weird it is to then - 00:29:00especially at the beginning, when you're just starting to being perceived as male, and having to interact with other cis men who don't necessarily know you're trans. It's just you get treated so differently by men based on like what gender they perceive you as. And, you know, five years later I'm still learning how to navigate that but was super relatable [laughs].

But anyway, I am trans masculine, and I identify as non-binary. When I first started to like come into myself or realized, y'know I'm definitely not cis was 00:30:00like in high school. And also at first thought I was a lesbian, cuz that's kind of the only image I had of a masculine person that was born female or whatever. And I kind of started realizing that, just from-honestly-like artists and musicians that were trans masculine, and really identifying with them. And kind reflecting onto myself and being like-the first thing that was like, "I really want to cut all of my hair off." And you know, it came from a place of being really, just sad and disconnected from myself-and like kind of starting to figure out why that was. And so it was like the beginning of my senior year of high school and I started experimenting with masculine presentation and stuff 00:31:00and just feeling like it was so amazing even if I just wore a flannel or something vaguely masculine. I was like, "This is dope! I've never felt like this before!" And so I made the decision, I was gonna cut off all my hair and my parents are older, and very catholic so I couldn't really tell them. I just went and, like, did it, because I knew they weren't gonna let me do it. And that was kind of when shit hit the fan, first of all-cause they were, big mad. They were really, really upset, and it was just really hard because I finally figured out what could start making me happy. And you know, especially when you're still so dependent on you family, it's just really confusing when you don't have that 00:32:00perspective of being adult and being independent. And then, like, the people who have given you life are just-something so healing and amazing-they just are so not about. And it's really confusing.

And so, yeah, I related your story a lot, too, cuz I just had to get out. Like, the whole senior year I would have to hide a lot of things, I would change when I get to school, and you know, it sucked. But it made me realize "OK I really need to figure out a way to get out of this state and become as independent as possible." And, like, at this point I didn't know I was trans, I just knew I was queer. I didn't know. I didn't have the language to understand. I didn't know any trans people, I didn't know any queer people, so I was just like, "I need to get out." And so I went into the Navy cause I got a scholarship to come to OSU 00:33:00for the Navy, the ROTC program. I was very anti-military but I was like, this is my way out, so I just went for it. So I got here in 2013 and it was really nice to be on my own. I stopped talking to my family because they were super unsupportive. I was like, "I don't have time for that". And, cause it was like - it was like a constant thing too. Every day they would bring it up and I was like, "Can we just not talk about this?" But it would be like an everyday and they would ask me, "Are you trying to be a boy?" and like duhduhduh and like "I don't know!" - you know, it was just not ideal.


So, I was in the Navy, but I was in the Navy as a women and the military's extremely gendered. Everything is separate, like, your uniforms are different. And so I think being in that super gendered environment made me realize even more like, "OK, I really am uncomfortable with being perceived as female". And yeah, that whole first year just kinda like the gears were turning, I met queer and trans people, and became somehow just all the friends that I met were queer. [Laughing] I was like, OK cool, which was awesome and kind of like you, I had a friend named Ty who was trans masc and I saw him start T. So like I saw the first few months of his changes and I was like, "I want that so bad. I need 00:35:00that." It's not even "I want", it's "I need this." "I need this so bad." But, back in 2013, at that point in time there was actually still a trans military ban-it was like two or three years later Obama rescinded that. But at the time, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", that only applies to the LGB, not the T. And so, I kind of was faced with this other choice that was like- lose my scholarship and transition, or stay in the military and not transition. And I had to get out, I had to transition.

So I got out, and found a clinic in Portland and started T, which was amazing. But at the same time, I was then homeless. I didn't have an income. I had put 00:36:00pretty much my whole life into getting good grades and getting a scholarship and then, I didn't have any money to go to school. I didn't know how to navigate coming back. So you know, I just started working minimum wage jobs and duhduhduhduhduh and couch surfing with friends and stuff. And yeah, it was such an amazing time to begin my transition but it's kind of clouded with trauma and darkness. But, I feel like, you know a few years after, it kind of started fading away. But yeah, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. So I was, like, transitioning but I didn't have contact with any of my family at all. I was homeless. I bought a van that I lived in for a few years. And, things 00:37:00kinda changed when I started working at a farm in Philomath, Gathering Together Farm. I don't know if you guys have ever heard of that. But I started being a baker there and eventually became their pastry chef. And it was kind of my first community of people that was just super accepting and there for me, and I had that creative outlet. And through that I got a place to live actually. And things started getting better after I had an actual community of people that were like-yeah I really relate so much to your story. [RW laughing] So I was like, "Why is everybody so nice?". After years of being so used to trauma and people hating you for no reason, it's really weird to come into a space where people are just nice. It's really uncomfortable actually cuz it's just strange. 00:38:00And right when I started working there was like when I was pretty much passing as cis but in the back of my mind I'm like, "Everybody knows. Y'know, everybody knows that I'm trans." It wasn't true, nobody knew until I have told them. But stuff just lingers with you for so long. And I also just hated all of the men that worked there [laughter], which was so weird cause [laughs] I was being perceived as a man, like, I had no idea how to interact with them. It was just real strange. [laughs] But, I don't know-I started my transition five years ago and it's just slowly gotten better. And I do have a positive relationship with my parents now. My sister never talked to me again, which sucks but-I don't 00:39:00know, it's been simultaneously the most painful part of my life, but also the most amazing and healing experience to come into myself and experience transition. And so yeah, it's definitely getting better. At was really shitty at the beginning, but, yeah, I wouldn't change anything, of how I went through it, or, I wouldn't ask to be born cis. As trans people we do have the very unique perspective of going through these transformations and coming to all these different experiences and it's very powerful.

[Snap fingers]

JA: Thank you for sharing



JA: Alright-who would like to go next?

KS: I guess I will. Do pardon me, I have voice problems. It's a long story- not relevant here. I, so - I'm Kate Schilke. Coming out is actually pretty easy-that story's pretty simple. Once I decided that I was indeed trans and that I had to make the decision to come out-I mean, it's not so simple.


So yeah, once I made the decision, I had to come out. The timing was kind of forced. I was an assistant professor at the time, which meant that I didn't have tenure and if anybody didn't like me they could just say, "See ya! Nice having 00:41:00you on board for six years." I had to turn in all my tenure materials and so on in like six months or so. And so I said "Fine." You know, I don't want to be the person that is perceived as, "Oh well yea, she waited until she had a guaranteed job for life. She had tenure and she was respected and all that, and then she switched on us." I didn't wanna be that. And I didn't want people to think that about me, and that would always be in the back of my mind. And I wanted to say, this absolutely resonates with me-I spent every waking minute of the day, probably, thinking in the back if my head, "Oh my god, I wonder if they will realize that I was born a guy." And for 99%, 90 % of the time the answer is no but, oh my god, it is so much work. It's emotional labor just being out in the 00:42:00world because cis people just - cis people can't understand. I absolutely love the idea-think about what the world would be like -I'm going off on tangent - think about what the world would be like if everyone had to do this for a year, or a month, or even a week. If every guy had to figure out eye makeup-much different world [laughter]. First of all, there would be no Ulta [laughter]. Oh my god-you are terrified walking into Ulta sometimes.

So anyways, my hand was kind of forced. For twenty five years, I had been kind of dancing around the question. I came out as bisexual in high school to my 00:43:00friends-definitely not my family. I distinctly remember my mom just offhandingly saying at one point, "As long as you're not gay, we love you." And, you know, that pretty much just shut it down for the next thirty some odd years. It's like "OK, we're done with that conversation then." She is still struggling. oth of my parents and my sister have been fabulous. Like you, I have very surprisingly progressive for eighty year old parents, and my sister is pretty cool. So I feel like I'm incredibly privileged, I have a respected high paying job that I basically have until I decide I don't wanna do it anymore. So your discussion about losing your scholarship-that really resonates on me. And I think it's useful to sit and think about a lot of the privilege that we carry, certainly. You know, I am more or less happily married. My spouse and I were together for 00:44:00about twenty years before I transitioned. I've been carrying aspects of a female - feminine identity, as long as I've known her. In the 90s, I used to wear corsets, I wore skirts around the house. I could run in high heels when I was twenty some off [laughter]. But it was all wrapped up in some pretty fucked up sexuality issues and stuff like that, so it never really surfaced that maybe this was my personality and not sort of you know, a fetish/dysfunction.

So, fast forward. I lost my train of thought, I'm sorry, that happens to me a lot. I wanted to talk about something that you said too, is that I was 00:45:00miserable. I was so miserable before my transition. The year before, when I was really trying to work out what was going on, I had no clue that I was trans. And in fact, it was my spouse that got going on it. She's - she's a writer, and she wanted to have a transgender character in one of her stories. And so she started researching this and, you know, she kind of [laughter]- I swear to god-she turned around to be and be like, "Hmmm." [laughter and chatter].

CD: Good timing

JA: Oh my god


KS: Looking at me like, "Huh, I wonder?" So she started asking me these questions, like, "Do you think you would be more comfortable with your life -" I was depressed and all that - "Do you think you would be more comfortable if you had been born a woman?" You know, "Have you ever thought about transitioning?", "How do you feel about your penis?" You know, all these sorts of - you know, "Have you thought about would it be like if you didn't have a penis?" You know, 00:46:00and there's a lot of these, like - why are you asking this? And then, six months or so later, it was a reality and like - like people have said - I think you said, and I think you said, and I think you said [refers to the other people], [snaps] once you flip the switch, man, it's all over, right? It's downhill.


CD: Yeah.

RW: Yup.

KS: Normal people [finger quotes], not that we're abnormal, we're unusual, to say the least, [laughter] at least I am.


KS: Cis people don't understand that, they just don't get that we've been waiting-subconsciously at least-we've been waiting all our lives for this, we're not gonna wait anymore. So it always seems very sudden. My spouse and I went through a lot, a lot, a lot of stress for that-you know, marriage counseling, we almost got divorced a couple of times. It was awful, it was so hard. We're pretty good right now, but it comes and goes. And I wish I could tell you that-you know, with age comes wisdom and all that - I'm forty eight now, going 00:47:00on thirty five[laughter]-but, unfortunately, shit still happens.

So in terms of, mechanisms of coming out, I agonized-work was actually pretty easy. I would talk to a number of my colleagues who were queer friendly-women's studies at WGSS program, women in engineering, asking about their experiences and so on. And I decided that I felt like I was in a place where I could come out, which is amazing on itself. I mean, to be in an engineering department and feel confident that my colleagues would accept me-my guess is there's maybe three of four places in the country that would be like that. As far as I know, you can count the number of trans women that are out in engineering faculty. 00:48:00Like, on three maybe four fingers, in decimal. [laughter] I used to be a programmer, I'm a total geek, oh my god, it's so bad. [laughter]

Anyways, so the way I did it is that I talked to the people I was working closely with and I told them, "OK, this is coming down the pike, I'm going to be coming out in July." And then in July, on July 7th, I sent out a blanket email to the entire College of Engineering list, saying, "Hey! I wanted to let you know, I'm changing my name, I'm gonna start presenting as a woman. You're welcome to be as involved with this as you want. Nice working with ya." [laughter] And that - that was, basically it. I agonized, I spent the entire weekend on that fucking email, it was- oh my god-it was awful. I drank up all the wine while I was working on that too. I was a mess-oh my god I was a mess. Not even a hot mess. I was just a mess. I was drinking myself to sleep every 00:49:00night. Luckily, I managed to keep away from drugs. I was depressed, I found out I'm bipolar. I got on meds and that made an incredible difference and now I'm kind of trying to advocate for mental health issues inside transgenders, since we seem to have a lot of them, no surprise. So that, totally resonates with me.


So, coming out to my parents was kind cool. My spouse and I worked on this for about a week. We sent a letter that consisted of three nested envelopes. They'd just got back from a trip to Norway, Sweden, something like that. First envelope had a letter that said, you know, "Hey, I have something really important that I need to share with you, but take the time to get yourself settled after your trip. I want you to know I love you. This is important to me, it's not something I perceive as bad, but I need you to be ready to process, and not distracted. 00:50:00When you're ready, open letter number two".

And so they open letter number two and basically it's like, "I think I'm transgender. I realize that I spent the last thirty years wishing, in various ways, that I was a woman. And I've decided that I can't continue to live as a man anymore. And so I'm going to change to a woman. And I hope that you are willing to be a part of that with me. And if not, I'm prepared to cut it off, I'm sorry." And that was really hard to write, I think that's the hardest letter I've ever had to write. And the third letter-you know that was sort of an introduction and then sort of an ultimatum-and then sort of the celebratory third letter was, you know, pictures of me dressed as a - god awful, you look back and you see continuous improvement, every day is better. You look back at 00:51:00the old photos and this is why I was laughing. I can't imagine looking back at old photos and being like, "Oh my gosh, that's amazing!" [laughter]. So anyways, so I sent them pictures, and you know I'm so happy, I can't believe I'm doing this, all my colleagues are so supportive. My spouse and I are actually doing OK, and we're working through this. We're deliberately not adding and watching Transparent and all - you know, all these TV shows cuz we want to go this path ourselves and make our own rules, and all that sort of thing. And there was a very long pause.

And about a week later I got a phone call from my father, who-bless his heart-was doing his best to be so kind and sweet, and he was like, "I don't get it, I'm so sorry. Can I come down and talk to you?" And it was just like, "oh my gosh." I was so scared that he was gonna offend me. I was like, "Yes, please. Please come down." And ever since then we've - we've been doing pretty well. I don't wanna monopolize the floor-As far as mental health impact and all that, 00:52:00this is absolutely the worst decision I've ever made in my life. There is no way that I would ever go through this again, unless I was forced to. That said though, that said - and I'm a masochist by training. [laughter] I'm an engineer [laughter] - that's sad. I cannot in anyways dispute that there are fabulous gifts. And the things that it teaches us about ourselves, and about the way the world works, are incredibly valuable. I'm just too lazy to go through all the pain and suffering. Everyone has their story and mine's, in many ways, better than most, but I'm definitely not happy. I was literally suicidal, it was not a decision. I was saving my life when I decided to come out as trans. I would - I 00:53:00would have killed myself, if I had not-a colleague of mine said that, the last couple of months before I came out, that he had been watching me and thinking, "Man, he has the weight of the world on his shoulders." You know, it was just awful. And so, transitioning literally saved my life. It's not that it gave me something to live for, or to live towards-it's just that it removed that crushing burden that I felt every day in the mirror.

The other thing I wanted to say too-then, I will shut up for real [laughter]. The other thing I wanted to say is that cis people don't understand us on so many levels, and one of the things they don't understand particularly about trans women, is that they perceive us as being incredibly vain and narcissistic. You know, we're all about the eye makeup, we're always looking in the mirror, 00:54:00we're so obsessed with our hair and our looks, and "Oh my gosh, I love this skirt!" [laughter] and all that sort of stuff. It's like being given the opportunity to eat at a smorgasbord after you've been starving for your entire life. You know, you just wanna go out and try everything, and everything on that table is just the best thing you've ever had. And I think people just don't understand how much of a release and relief it is, to be able to embrace yourself the way that you have always wanted to be. So that's, kind of my story in a nutshell. Thank you for listening.


JA: I really resonated with the letters. So I mentioned over summer that I came out to my immediate family. But that following winter, I wrote letters to send out to all of my extended family members-it was just like this two page essay, 00:55:00just talking about it. And it was really interesting coming out it in a letter. For me it didn't necessarily feel like a cop-out, but I was really anxious and I did not wanna do it in person. Just in case if there was a bad reaction, I didn't wanna see it, you know.

KS: Right.

QM: Yea.

KS: Exactly.

JA: So it was a lot easier to just like throw it out there and if they message me, they message me. If they don't, whatever, I'll see them over summer and we'll see how things go. But yeah, the letters. [laughs]

KS: Cool.

QM: Yeah.

KS: Good, good. If anybody would like a copy of those letters, I'd be happy to share. If you know someone who's struggling with how to come out.

JA: Something that would be interesting-just because we are putting this into the archives. If you want, you could add that.

KS: That's what I was thinking, it would be pretty cool to have. It would be 00:56:00interesting to look back on it in twenty years or whatever and it could also be a very valuable resource for other people.

QM: Absolutely.

JA: Absolutely.

KS: It's vastly personal but it's also really fucking hard.

JA: [sighs] I just might do the same, I think that's a really good idea.

KS: That is good

QM: Yeah, if you need-

KS: We'll discuss off camera [laughs]

QM: Yeah, yeah. Totally

RW: I just wanted to add something. If you think trans women are vain, you should see when we start growing beard [laughter] or like hair, "Is it growing? Is that a hair!?!"

KS: Two hairs!?


RW: All the time

KS: The other thing that strikes me is-

[cross chatter]

KS: The cosmic unfairness of this. You know, I am sitting next to a person who desperately wants-presumably-desperately wants body parts and presentation that I have. And I'm sitting next to a person that I would - literally would kill myself to help [laughter]. You know, to have this and the universe is very cruel sometimes.


QM: Yeah.

CD: Yeah, yeah.

KS: If you meditate on that it becomes tremendously destructive and depressing

KS: I'll shut up [laughs].

JA: No need to shut up

RW: No

QM: You're fine

CD: You're good


JA: Who would like to go next?

A: I'll go I guess.

QM: Sure

A: I came out when I was fourteen. I had this boyfriend, who knew one of my-I was friends with this girl who was wildly dysfunctional. Just like somebody I thought I could try to save her from cutting herself and doing drugs and doing all this stuff. I was like, "I'm going to be the person that helps you out." But my boyfriend knew her family. So we all went out to-for a holiday-we all went up with her family, and my boyfriend and my self, up for in the snow kind of deal. And I distinctly remember it was Christmas and I was like extremely interested 00:58:00in getting my boyfriend to swap clothes with me [laughter]. I was like, "Hey! We should do drag for Christmas, how awesome would that be." He was like, "I don't understand this at all-what the fuck is your deal." [laughter] I was like, "I don't understand why you're being such a wuss about it. Come on! Ugh." And so, the friend's sister-I'm not sure now, but like at the time they were sister-came over to me and they were like, "Hey... gender". I was like, "I don't know what you are talking about at all, there are the two of them." I was like, "Okay." And she was like, "Hey, Google 'androgynous.'" So I got home later that week and I Googled it, and it was like, "Oh shit! Oh that's an option? Fuck yeah!" [laughter] And I just remember buying-deeply dark and not at all appropriate for my hair color-eyebrow pencil and just sharpie-ing it on my neck [laughter]. I still have those photos. We were talking about photos earlier.


KS: Right


RW: Yeeeeesss!

KS: Just - just burn them. That's the easiest thing to do.

A: Right? Just delete them. I remember the first time I-I wasn't allowed to cut my hair until I was fourteen- first time I got a blow like over here [gestures around the neck], my dad didn't speak to me for two days. I don't know why he was such a bitch about it. Just chill out, do you know what I mean? And it happened recently too, like, I would come home from college and I would do it, and he would get mad and not talk to me. I was like, I don't - I don't get this at all, but OK.

But basically, I came out, I lost all my friends, I moved schools. Came out to my parents and they were like, "No, you're not." And then I spent the next four years going in and out of the closet. Just saying "Hey, I'm trans again" and my dad was like, "You maybe you shouldn't be" and I was like, "Oh, you're right." Because I didn't know anybody and I didn't have any examples of being a trans man that could be a positive thing. Because my understanding of it was-I didn't 01:00:00know that many trans people, but the people that I did know, it was like trans feminine people and they were older cuz they ran the support group that I went to. And I would bring my parents in to talk to the coolest woman on the fucking Earth, I love her so much. She's called Jackie.

Jackie, kicks ass. She came out when she was like sixty five. She lived in Germany during-it was just like she had this whole story. Amy dad talked shit about her, after he met her. And I just remember feeling like, "Oh, that's like the best example and you still don't think that that's an option. This is like the best person I know, and you're still not OK with it." So I never envisioned living past eighteen. So when I got to eighteen, it was like, "Oh shit, do I have to have a plan at this point now?" [laughter, chatter] "You gotta have a plan for this." I wasn't allowed to transition medically until I turned eighteen. May birthday, but I don't know why I didn't do it in June-I think it was just like Keiser didn't have a spot. July 6th, went in. My best friend came 01:01:00with me and I got my T shot. I didn't think that they did it. Cuz it didn't hurt at all. They shoot you in the ass and it's like there a lot of fatty tissue, and so I stood convinced - for like a week, I was convinced that they lied to me and didn't do it.


KS: Oh no. Oh my god.

[laugher continues]

CB: I just didn't think that it was real. Cause after, it wasn't an option to hang out with my parents. They were like cool with it, but as long as I didn't talk about it, and they could still misgender me constantly. So I moved, five hundred miles away-it's not as going across the Earth - but it's far enough alright [laughter]. No one can come visit you, is kind where I'm at. That's like where I wanted. I didn't research OSU at all. I Googled, like, 'schools far enough away' and this was a school that was far enough away. So, came over here. Actually spent a long time-Charlene? Charlene, she ran the WGSS thing that was 01:02:00in the bottom of Wilson. You know that class that we were supposed to take? Were you in Wilson or were you in another room?

JA: I was in Callahan

A: That's right

JA: There were classes I had to take, but they were different.

A: There was a class for the dorm I was in. It was like the gender neutral dorms. It was like organized - the one that was in -

KS: This is gender neutral though?

A: Yeah, it was like 2016, that was the first year that they were doing it

KS: Oh, that's awesome. It was all guys when I was in there.

A: Ugh, that's the worst


A: But I remember being in constant contact with the lady who was running our program, being like, "Hey, if I don't get into this, I don't know what I'm going to do. I really need to be in the one cool gay dorm." [laughter] Cuz there's other ones, but they were like gender segregated by floor. I was like, "Oh, that's what I'm trying to get out of."

RW: Yeah, they're cool

KS: Right

A: So, I got over here.

KS: Super critical

A: Yeah. No, gender neutral bathrooms is the only real option.



A: Coming out-I don't know, something that y'all talked about a lot was like-I constantly thought that everyone could tell I was trans, and I still do. And that's why I avoided trans phases for such a long time because I didn't wanna be, and I didn't want anyone else to know because it's not something that you should be proud of. That was my thinking about it. And so I avoided people and trans faces for a very long time. And one of the ways that I did that was-"whose like the most oblivious group that I don't know any best-cis men. Okay." So I joined a fraternity, cuz nobody could tell. Yeah! Cuz like I wanted to make friends with men, I didn't have any friends in high school, so I had no experience with making friends with men. It was all queer women and non-binary folks. And so I was like-I think the actual reasoning was-some of the workforce is male, I should probably know how to talk to them.

So I joined a fraternity. And that was fine, they were cool. They're fine. Nobody could tell and that was great, and I needed that just to try to get in 01:04:00with the social norms and then it still wasn't working. I was like, "Why isn't it working?. Like, they're all fine. They're fine to hang out with. But you shouldn't go for fine, you should go for people that you like, who you like to hang out with and resonate with you. Like, you can be a nice person but it's still not the same as having that experience. Actually, being in the fraternity made me have a whole sexual identity crisis that I've never had. I've never come out as a lesbian, because I was never interested in women. And so it was always just like, I was a tomboy until I wasn't kind of thing. But being in a fraternity, they have formals and you have to go on dates with sororities. I was like, "Oh does being a man mean you have to like women?" And so I had a whole crisis my freshman or sophomore year, when I was like feeling really bad about being a gay man. Not the trans part-at this point I was just a dude, there's no difference for me really. Especially being in the cis spaces I was in, I was 01:05:00like, "I'm not different from anybody else." So that was a weird thing to go through. I didn't realize people could have two identity crisis- I thought it was sexual first, because that one leads you into the other one.

RW: All the time

A: Nope

A: I don't know-slight tangent I guess. My mom is an alcoholic. She went to jail for having too many DUIs and so I was constantly being the adult in my family, even with all the adults. They would tell me all of their marriage issues and my brother would talk to me about all of his stuff and my mom would treat me like her best friend. And part of the thing that's been really awesome about transitioning is that-you guys talked about like the expectations for men and not wanting to play into that. And that's absolutely great and I just-one of the good things about it is that no one expects men to hold the candle for other people's feelings. [laughter] So I don't have to listen to my mom talk about her 01:06:00deeply moan. [laughter] She will call me by her sister's name, because she's like, "Oh, you're my friend." I'm like, "I'm not your friend, I'm your son and you need to get your shit together Janet."

[laughter, chatter]

A: So, one really good thing is not having to perpetuate those like things that alcoholism kind of pushes on a family, where you're supposed to be the adult for all the adults in your life, which has been awesome.

CD: [softly] Silver lining, you know?

KS: Tarnished or not

A: So, I don't know-I mean, part of it also is just resonating with what you said, you can make your own masculinity. Like, I am way more comfortable doing things now than I ever was when I was being perceived as female. I still have shitty black nail polish. I was looking at these Facebook photos-I had shitty black nail polish when I was thirteen and it's till I die.

[laughter, cross-chat]

KS: I was gonna compliment you on it

A: Oh, thank you

KS: Yeah. No, it's awesome. I was the guy wearing back in the 90s.


RW: It's not even a project

KS: You look back-It makes sense now

A: Yeah.

KS: No, that's awesome.

A: Yeah.


QM: Thank you

RW: Thanks for sharing

JA: Alright Quincy, your turn.

QM: Well, yeah my story I think is quite different in a lot of ways just being a non-binary person. I remember, there not really being too many signs that something different was going on. Me as a kid, it was sort of like, "OK, the world says that I'm a girl, I guess that's close enough." And so I went with that for the longest time. I was never really super masculine or super feminine. 01:08:00I remember I was just a kid who liked to play with stuffed animals, be in my pretend world, love doggies- when I was a toddler if there was a dog in my vicinity I would let you know. So that was my thing when I was really little. I do remember more questions coming up when, at age twelve, I was diagnose with an intersex variation called Turner's syndrome. And basically that's when you have only one X chromosome instead of the usual two. And basically for a lot of people that could mean - it varies actually, some people are born without any gonads at all, most are born with ovaries but they are really small and not functional, like they just haven't differentiated. And so they didn't really know that was happening because I looked typical for someone assigned female at birth. Until I wasn't going through puberty at all, wasn't growing. So that was 01:09:00sort of when doctor was like, "Oh we need to get this checked out."

And I remember having a little crisis about that, because no one tells you that there are people out there who don't go through puberty spontaneously. No one tells you that. Or of course when you're fourteen, the doctor-yeah, they have their protocol, they have their treatment in mind for what you do, so it was like OK. Growth hormones for three years to get some height. And then Permarin and then we'll put you on birth control. And I was fourteen, I couldn't talk back to the doctor really, that wasn't the place for that. And plus, I was a teenager who was just having a crisis about not going on the same path as their friends. So I kind of went with it. Now I'm kinda having to go through it again-like, "was that the best idea", and wishing that maybe there was more of a 01:10:00conversation about how I was feeling about that.

So that kind of messed me up for a minute, even though I didn't it at the time. Thinking back, yeah there was some stuff. I did actually know one transgender person at least, my grandmother actually came out as a trans woman when I was like sixteen.

KS: No way. Oh, that is so awesome!

QM: Yeah, I remember everybody's first reaction was to cry, especially my brother because he was losing a male role model. So that was his reaction.

RW: Oh god

QM: Mine-I was like, "Oh, well, I guess she figured it out?" [laughs] And, you know, I went through my own complicated process with that later. But, I remember-now, my grandmother wasn't the one who told us about this. It was actually my father who did it because he wanted to be the one to explain it, 01:11:00which is actually kind of surprising, knowing him. To be honest, she doesn't like uncomfortable conversations, so these conversations that he finds uncomfortable. But I remember talking about it later. My grandmother, she was like, "Yeah, I remember. After I talked with you, you kind of-you seemed to get it." But it was also very confusing, because I'm not transfeminine at all, so it was like, "What is going on? What is this? I'm confused." I didn't know any non-binary people until I went to college, and even then it took me a minute to figure it out. I think a lot of this had to do with the fact that I wasn't itching, necessarily, for hormones. I mean I have a bunch of mixed feelings with the hormones I was put on. But again those feelings are mixed and confusing. And 01:12:00it wasn't like the born in the wrong body kind of story that we're told. And so I thought, "Oh my, I can't be that." Yeah, and so that took a while, until I actually started talking with more trans people, and people saying "Well, not all of us feel like that. Maybe some of us do, and that's valid and fine. But just because you don't necessarily have a lot of body dysphoria since you were growing up, doesn't necessarily mean anything."

KS: I hate that narrative. I hate it.

QM: Oh yeah. I did a whole thesis about why that's wrong.

KS: Cool, cool.

QM: Yeah, and that was very helpful to actually interview more trans people, I actually liked digging deeper and being like, "OK, what else is going on? What other things are people experiencing?" In fact, I think a lot of how I came to 01:13:00understand my gender was through gender euphoria, and what felt right once I actually started giving myself permission to actually experiment. Because before, it was like going on automatic pilot. It wasn't distressing- it was just like, "OK, this is what we do" and I figured out like, "Oh, these other things that somebody else would do, that's better. And maybe I wanna wear the suit when I teach, and wear that rainbow bowtie, and have those suspenders, like I did yesterday. So, let's do that." And I think I guess I really needed that because frankly, since going through the process of looking back at my puberty, I realized okay, there is actually a little bit of dysphoria around menstrual cycles and all of that. And I've been trying to get it to stop and my birth control failed. And so I was like, "Oh crap. Okay, we're gonna wear something that's gender euphoric today." Just to-yeah. And that's also another thing is 01:14:00that, nobody told me that could come up later. It was like, you're supposed to feel this way from when that starts. Not later. So now, I'm having to think about what that means and how sometimes the stuff can come from social things, and the meanings that we put around those bodily functions and I'm like, "I'm a WGSS PhD. Like, I know." But even science is socially constructed-at least the way that we think about it is. And that we don't - like, I know having a menstrual cycle doesn't necessarily have to mean more than that, but yet it's so ingrained that way that it's hard to disrupt.

What does that mean also, you know, binary people even have the right [inaudible]. Like, what does that mean? And so, I've been going through that a 01:15:00bit. It's been helpful to be here and further away from family all the way back in Minnesota. I mean, they're very nice Midwestern folks-it's fine-but really don't get it. I mean my brother comes close, and of course my grandmother gets it more than the rest of the cis folks, but I think the non-binary stuff, even though you know she gets it up to a point sometimes. I do remember one time she asked me, "Do you think that this whole non-binary thing has to do with responding to stereotypes?" And it was like, "Well yeah, but I think that that's kind of a first question that I asked-is this having to do with just some stereotypes." And I was like, "Well no, I did some work on that." No, didn't go 01:16:00away. Nope, I can tell myself all day long that you can do what you want, and be a woman and it's fine. But no, it didn't stop. And I think it's hard to explain what that's like, when you don't have necessarily that kind of experience. I mean it's especially hard with the cis people, and also too it's really hard given my intersex history to talk to my parents, and to be honest about the treatments I was put under because I do not blame them in the slightest, I mean they didn't know about any of this. And you know doctors have a lot authority. So I don't feel like any resentment. But I just remember once watching this documentary with my mother, and an intersex trans man was being interviewed. And he was talking about like all the terrible things he experienced as a result of 01:17:00this surgery that he had, that was coercive when he was a child. My mother said-cause I just tried to explain to her the whole non-binary thing-she was feeling guiltier and guiltier sitting there and watching this. And I was like, "Woah, where is this coming from? Cuz I didn't say anything." And I was like, "No, I'm OK." Now again, I'm going through some stuff now. But, that's also what got me wondering why in a lot of people's minds transness is so synonymous with dysphoria, cause I didn't say a word about feeling any distress in this conversation. Nothing. And that's immediately where her brain went and I was like, "Why is this?" and then I was like, "Oh, it's the born in the wrong body narrative that's just put out there in the media." And like, well she 01:18:00knows-again, my grandmother, she basically told that story cause that's what she felt the family could understand.

RW: Um-hum.

KS: Yeah.

QM: So yeah, we've got some work to do as far as my parents are concerned. At least, as far as people in the family, I have a brother who I can talk to. It's probably going to be a while before I try to breach this stuff with my extended family, but we'll see. At least here, you know, my colleagues have been awesome, so that's great. Yeah, I still have a lot to work through, lots of questions and that's kind of why I ended up in the field that I did. Cause, often we end up doing the thing that's about our own stuff [laughter]-a lot of the time, not all 01:19:00the time. A whole lot. So yeah, we'll see. As I continue, one nice thing about being non-binary is that in a lot of ways we don't really have an archetype, yet. I mean sure we have this image of like the teenager on Tumblr whose White and skinny and androgynous, yes.

QM: Yeah. Well and that - those people do exist. And that's fine.


RW: And that's fine? [Laughing]

[Laughter, chatter]

QM: But at least, you know, society at large-


QM: at least society at large doesn't really have an archetype.

KS: Yeah

QM: Which can suck sometimes cuz sometimes I do want a world where I could communicate easier to people just out in the world and it was actually just 01:20:00something that was understood. But hey at least, you know, the 'passing' conversation is not the same.

CD: It's frustrating on you can never really like pass as non-binary, which is really frustrating. People can kind of understand that you're trans, but it's really beyond conceptualizing for most people.

QM: To me, it's been such a mixed bag because there are days when it feels like what you were describing, frustrating. And yet some days it's like, "Oh, it can be liberating." Cuz at least nobody is telling you-the world at large isn't saying, "Oh, non-binary people don't do that."

[Others express agreement]

QM: So, at least there's not that. But yeah, at the same time, the message can sometimes be "you don't exist."

CD: Yeah

QM: Which-

RW: One of my main theories is, because the whole transness thing is so related to genitals. If gender was totally separate from sex, it would be so much easier 01:21:00for us to come out. Like, I've never felt genital dysphoria myself.

QM: Right.

RW: Never!

QM: Yeah.

RW: It doesn't make me less trans.

QM: No.

RW: It doesn't make anyone else less trans. If you feel dysphoria, cool. It doesn't make you more trans. But, we need to start really separating genitals from the freaking gender. It'll make it so much easier for non-binary people. So much easier for binary people too.

QM: Yeah, for everybody

RW: Yeah, honestly

KS: What did you say? 'No my' people?

RW: No, non-binary. Sorry, I was just-pronunciation [laughs]


QM: While you were talking I was about to say too, it would make it easier for intersex folks if we weren't so obsessed.

CD: Yeah.

QM: Yeah. Right? Or even like about secondary sex characteristics. I mean, like 01:22:00even though I wasn't subjected to surgery, there was a lot of interesting stuff that's happened around that, by a certain age. And it was weird. Like I know a lot of people who've had worst, but it was so weird. Yeah, so I think like, separating from genitals but also from some of these other things too would be helpful, I think, yeah, just for a lot of people. Yeah, reminded me too, would also help some of the confusion that happens. Because even though I am an example of where intersex and trans overlap, there are a lot of intersex people who are like, "I was assigned this gender, I'm fine with it." And, you know, as far as that's concerned, I think a lot of people don't understand that there's a 01:23:00conflation, or the expectation if you identify as non-binary you must be intersex. Which is frustrating for me because I am an example of when those things happen to coincide. So trying to talk to cis could mean like, "that's a not a good time."

RW: Yeah, that sounds really hard

QM: Right. Yeah, and I think together with this, we need to have more of a conversation about maybe other avenues people who might go through figuring out that they're trans, like through gender euphoria, like for me-you know, when I tried old spice for the first time [laughter]

RW: Oh my god, I was late!

QM: Yeah.

RW: I was doing it for my dad.

[Chatter, laughter]

QM: It's stuff like that. And I think that would be helpful. And also not everything about transness is bleak, either. Like, you know.



RW: Nope.

QM: I just wanna [inaudible]. As far as that's concerned, I don't want cisness. Nope. Yup, I mean, yeah, being trans is hard but I would choose it every time over that. And I think that's also hard for cis people to grasp that we don't want their cisness.

CD: You can have it.

RW: Yeah!


QM: You do you.

CD: I think we've all mentioned, vaguely at some point, that we're like, "Yeah, it can suck sometimes but also-"

QM: That seems to be a thread.

CD: It's just nice to hear from-

QM: Yeah, and it's liberating to say that because you try to be in mixed company and people look at you like, "That's crazy talk."


RW: Yeah

QM: And it's not to diminish the hard stuff that certainly happens because cis-sexism is real. I think we need to have a conversation about the other 01:25:00stuff, and how those things are not as necessary negligible. Yeah, so I guess if my story has a lesson to teach, it would be that.


JA: Thank you

Others: Cool

JA: What time is it?

KS: It's almost seven

JA: it's almost seven?

RW: Yeah.

QM: Yeah.

RW: 6:58

KS: I have something I would -

JA: Oh my goodness

KS: I'd like to ask the group because it bugs me a lot, and I'm just looking for perspective. I'll go on record, and don't take this personally - I have a lot of trouble understanding non-binary people, cause I feel like I've spent a lot of my life trying to be a guy, and now a lot of my life trying to be a girl. And it's very difficult for me to understand why someone would-not why-how someone 01:26:00would not want to fit into either camp. So I don't want you to explain it to me and I'm not asking you to convince me that I'm right or wrong or whatever, but I was curious if other people who identify as trans feel the same way or is this something that I'm just carrying myself, which is OK too.


QM: Yeah, I would say, you're not alone among trans men and women feeling that way-that makes sense. You know, given how many people, as you said, spend time trying to go from one to the other. That is a very valid experience, but I can imagine that if you're trying to do that and it's so hard too, as it is, because of the society we live in that it would be difficult to imagine when somebody 01:27:00comes along and says, "Oh, neither please." Or sometime people will be like, "Both please." [Chatter] There's both and non-binary people too. And I think another thing is that, it's such a broad umbrella. And I think it's even hard sometimes for non-binary people to understand each other sometimes. Like, I don't know if that's your experience or not.

CD: Yeah, I was just gonna say, I'm non-binary and trans-masculine pretty much. And, for me, I just, kinda like you, I feel like I mostly came into my trans identity through like euphoria, and I have undergone HRT and surgeries and stuff but, I also don't feel like I'm not a woman. I feel like I am that too. For whatever reason, I really appreciate presenting as masculine, and it's more of a 01:28:00feeling than anything I can really concretely tell you why I am-I just don't feel like I am strictly male. I feel like I am both and neither. And I can't really describe it any other way than that. It's kind of like, I don't even know, I'm just not one or the other.

KS: The reason I bring it up is, one, to expose my complete being a bitch. [laughter] And two, because it fascinates me. It just in my head, I can't think of how I would be if I weren't trying to be one or the other. I have infinite respect -

RW: I really get that cause what Quincy said, within at least me and you, we spent our lives trying to fit in the binary.


KS: Right, exactly.

RW: Cause it took me a little while, for me too. But honestly, if you think that gender basically is a social construct, and then we made gender - we made it. We set what is masculine, what is feminine. I mean, at the end of the day it can be as many gender identities, as many perception as we want. Like, it's not only male and female. There's so many in the middle and out, and like it's just human construction. I don't know, there's not only two-yeah, we create them.

CD: There's as many genders as there are people.

RW: Yeah,

KS: That, I can buy into.

QM: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

JA: Try to live in a world where there's only two options, [laughs] y'know.

KS: Yeah.

RW: Honestly.

JA: It's just -


QM: Well, when people are talking about, "There's only two." I'm like, "Oh, boring. So boring."

RW: Boring and racist, by the way.

QM: Oh yes.

RW: So

A: There's actually 76 genders and every time you complain we add 5 more.



JA: The gender binary is specifically like a colonial construct.

QM: Yeah.


JA: So many cultures around the world have more genders than just male and female.

KS: Yeah, I was just looking at the Two-Spirit poster up there.

QM: Yeah.

RW: Yeah, Two-Spirit!

QM: Yeah, and just how colonists used the gender binary as an important part of their colonizing is because it makes it easier to do that.

JA: They weaponize it.

QM: Oh yeah

RW: Yeah, definitely

QM: And -

KS: Good word

QM: Yeah, that is a very good word for it, and sometimes it's [inaudible]


RW: And I feel it's easier to control if you can put them in a category, like a tag. If you can say, "Male, female. Male, female." It's easier to control what the female group is going to do and what the male group is going to do. It's easier to just categorize them. So like it makes a lot of sense with the colonialism, honestly.

QM: Yeah. Right.

RW: [laughs] I just can't.

KS: Quincy, I'm sorry if that was insulting in any way.

QM: Oh! No

KS: It's something that's been weighing on my mind a lot.

QM: Yeah. No, I know I've had to have conversations like that even with my grandmother and it's not an uncommon thing.

KS: Your grandmother sounds freaking awesome.

RW: Yeah! Honestly, I was -

[laughter, chatter]

QM: Right?

RW: That's so cool

QM: She's a retired Geology professor, and everything. And yeah, actually came out before she retired. So that was interesting. Still married to my other 01:32:00grandma, which has been interesting for the two of them. But yeah, also too, I think it took a lot for me to come out because of how the rest of the family was reacting, because of those like - I know that grandma Peggy, my cis grandma, was like "[inaudible] it's like if you don't get the casseroles." Now that was her experience, because to her it felt like losing a spouse and she felt like there wasn't much support. But also too, when somebody is telling you that your transness is like a death, it's not making you wanna be like, "Yes! Let me be the next one!".

RW: Yeah

QM: "Let me do that!" You know?

KS: I hear that a lot, actually. With marriages, especially.

QM: Oh yeah, and then it's -

KS: It's marriage killing usually.

QM: Yeah, it usually is and it makes sense - and again, I don't wanna knock any spouse whose going through that - I just think that, in my brain, as somebody 01:33:00whose heavily causing that to myself, but it didn't help. Yeah, and again, you know - one of those things that was like, "I get it." But, as far as making me feel like I can -

RW: It's the at the same time, I don't get it. That person doesn't die, it's literally the same person.

QM: Right

RW: Literally. Literally, the same person.

QM: Well -

RW: Maybe a different name, maybe different pronouns

QM: Well, I mean -

[ Cross chatter]

A: My mom, for like years, [inaudible]. I'm like, "bitch, it's been like four years, can you just get over it" You don't spend that much time on your actual people who died.

QM: Yeah, right. And I guess the part that I get is when I put it in the frame of, a construct is gone.

RW: Yeah, definitely.

QM: And I can respect that that's a big deal. But then there's a certain point 01:34:00where it's like, is the death metaphor really appropriate?

KS: Right

QM: And again, this is something that I would never actually say out loud to poor Grandma Peggy.


QM: But again, that wasn't like - yeah, it didn't make me feel welcome - or the fact that, when my grandma decided that she was going to take her late sister's name as a middle name, and the extended family freaked out, or being like "Oh, you had this name at first, now you wanna do this one. Pick one." And it's like, oh okay, apparently for these people you can't try more than one name.

CD: Yeah

A: It's so frustrating.

QM: Yeah.

CD: So over it


QM: So it was great - it was a weird thing because having her around is awesome. And at the same time, it's like, part of me wishes I didn't see that, because it delayed my coming out for a bit. Because I was seeing-even though it wasn't the 01:35:00worst treatment of a trans person I've ever seen, well-

KS: Sometimes, it's the little shit that really makes a difference.

QM: It adds up.

RW: One of my professors, shared with me a metaphor. You hold the phone like this [holds one arm up] as you talk, and you talk, and you talk, and you talk, and eventually, the whole arm is just literally gonna go numb. Now imagine having seven phones and carrying it the whole day. What is - your arms are literally gonna fall. So just, that's what we have to carry, all the time. And like, obviously we get tired and it's exhausting. And it's like a pretty good metaphor though, this is freaking pushing us, and like all this bullshit transphobia. We can only carry as much as we carry, we can't do more. And it's about our identities, which we can't put away whenever we want. So, I think 01:36:00that's what cis people don't really get. So, if someone doesn't get it, just give them like three phones and put them like this, as much as they can hold, and then explain the whole trans metaphor. Maybe with physical pain, they will understand, I don't know.

QM: Maybe it will help?

CD: I think then they'll figure it out somehow [laughs]

RW: Somehow.

QM: Whatever works, I guess [laughs]

RW: Yup. Cool.

CD: Thank you everyone.

RW: Yeah.

QM: Thank you.

KS: Was this what you were expecting?

JA: This was really healing. Yeah, exactly what I wanted. I'm very happy. I think, initially, something that I was really hoping for was numbers and my boss reminded me like, impact over numbers. And I feel like this was a really impactful experience and I'm very much looking forward to doing this again in a couple weeks-week 6. And eventually, this is a program I would like to continue in Spring term, just because I think it's really good to like have this 01:37:00community circle where we can just be together. It's really healing, and I appreciate everyone for being here. It's been very, very nice.

RW: Definitely was.

KS: Thank you, it was nice to meet everyone.

JA: You too, yeah.