What are your pronouns?
Where do you work?
I work at Smith College. I am a librarian. I like it there a lot. I feel very fortunate. It’s nice to have a job. It was a long road of not having a job, and that’s so hard, but I’m happy where I landed.
Do you have any hobbies or special interests? What do you do for fun?
I love making terrariums. I like to rock climb. I’ve been really getting into cross-stitching lately. I like dog walks, I like to hike, I like to knit. Whole range of stuff. I like a lot of collaging.
How do you handle the issue of pronouns and being gendered when interacting with strangers / mixed company / etc?
I think if I’m in a group with friends or something like that, friends will usually correct others if they’ve said the wrong pronoun or something, so I have friends who can step in a little bit. Usually what I do too in email signatures, is I often put pronouns, so I think that’s helpful when you’re interacting even remotely with other folks that you don’t usually see face-to-face. I think that’s really nice
I used to get more annoyed by it [in one-off situations with people I wouldn’t necessarily see again], but now I’m like, eh, how would they know? I expect more from folks that I know more and interact with all the time, and I think it’s really cool to see the process of people being able to shift and use the correct pronoun or correct themselves too. I like seeing that. I used to get more annoyed by it, but now I’m just kind of like, whatever. I’m going to see this person one time. Like I had this one incident today where someone just came up to me and [said], “Hey how’s it goin’, boss lady?” [laughs] I was like, I don’t know what’s happening here, I’m just going to pretend like I didn’t hear that, I’m just gonna keep working. It was a random person, [not someone who knows me]. Yesterday someone needed help with something, and she [said], “Yeah, I’m just waiting for this nice young lady over here to help me with it.” I don’t mind it if women do it, but for some reason if it’s a cis guy, particularly a cis white guy, I’m just like, Oh, absolutely not. You’re taking some liberties here. I don’t know why it’s different but it feels different.
What word(s) would you use to describe your identity?
I would say I’m a magical unicorn. [laughs] I feel like I’m just kind of a hybrid. Yeah. Magical unicorn hybrid.
Are there ways that you dress / act / speak / etc. to specifically make a statement to others about your identity? Why?
I don’t really know. I kind of lean more towards the masculine end in terms of outfits, but also I like sparkly nail polish. I love sparkle. So I think that’s some of it too. I don’t want to take everything away. I want to be a combination. Because I feel like there’s this notion [that] it’s hard to be in-between, and I want to keep both of those components.
How early on did you know or suspect that you did not identify within the binary?
I think there was a stint where I was like, Oh, I’ll just push it down. I don’t know, I think around maybe 2012 I was doing a lot of nannying, and so when I would be in spaces where there were young kids and they would ask me questions, it really got to the heart of the matter very quickly, and addressed a lot of things that I wasn’t necessarily attending to. I just kind of was moving through the world. Because I didn’t feel like there were any terms that could describe me at that point. It felt so new, the language has evolved so much. One example was a Facebook memory, and it was [one of the kids] asking, “Are you a mans or a womans?” Hilarious in so many ways, just in the phrasing, and I was just kind of like, Well, I could tell them both, but that would just blow their little brains a little bit. So I guess around there.
Do you think anything about the way you were raised or where you grew up affected how you drew conclusions about your identity?
Yeah. So I grew up in even further rural Western Mass. And I think there weren’t that many queer folks that I had as role models, so I kind of just [didn’t know] what to do. I hadn’t encountered anyone else like me, and so I think it took me longer because I wasn’t necessarily surrounded by the culture of that, so I think it took me longer in some ways. And then I went to a Catholic college, which I was like, Why did I do that to myself? Financial aid is great, but maybe in retrospect I would’ve changed that decision.
Can you give any examples of misconceptions people have about those who identify outside the binary? Have you personally dealt with them?
Well, one is that all non-binary people want to be on [hormones] or actually have surgery.
How do you feel represented in media and society at large?
[laughs] I mean, I don’t really, necessarily. What’s cool is I’ve been seeing a lot more graphic novels and things like that, which has been really lovely. Like Tillie Walden’s Upon A Sunbeam, that’s a really good one. I think there’s one non-binary person and they touch upon this mis-gendering and friends correcting pronouns and different things like that. Maybe even in the new reboot of She-ra. So I would say that in cartoons and graphic novels I feel like it’s been more pronounced. But I think in terms of general media, I feel like it’s still very niche.
Could you tell me about an experience or moment in your life that was very impactful for you?
I think there was this moment where I was maybe about 10, and I was canoeing with my mom and my dad, and what was really impactful about it was my dad was just like, “Yeah, you don’t need to wear your shirt. You can just be whatever. We’re just out on the river.” That was really impactful to me, to [realize], Oh, I don’t have to do this. It’s okay to do this other thing. So that for me was very impactful, very liberating. Not that I needed permission to do something, but it was freeing that up a bit.
Who in your life do you feel you can trust or depend on?
A couple folks. I would say my best friend JD, my other friend Oshi, I would also say I can really depend on my mom. I can really depend on my two other friends, Brie and Shay. I tend to I hold onto friends for a very long time.
Are you able to find adequate medical care?
Right now I’m currently working on trying to get a different primary care person. But I think, overall, that they have been supportive. I think it helps that they are a member of the queer community, and I think there’s a lot of really good resources [inside] social media networks about who to go to and things like that, so I feel very fortunate in that regard, on my journey to find a better fit.
How has your view of yourself changed since you were younger?
I mean it shifted a bit, but I think it was kind of a cycle. So I felt like I was much more of a tomboy as a kiddo, and then I thought I needed to be a particular thing, I thought I needed to be more feminine in order to just pass through the world. And then realizing I didn’t necessarily have to do that. So that shift to: Oh, I can be a combination of things. But I think it was always there, and I think sometimes as kids, you get a little bit more license to do whatever, but as you get older there are more rules and restrictions on what is appropriate or what people consider to be okay.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Just be whatever you want to be. Don’t worry about what other people are thinking, and just be whatever you would like to be, because it’s about making yourself happy, and it’s not about what other folks are thinking. Because they don’t have to live your experience or your life. You do.
What are your concerns for the future?
Well, I’m going to go political on this, but I am very concerned about the stripping of rights, the stripping away of access to medical care and things like that – those are the big ones, I think, in terms of our current administration, and various Supreme Court nominations as well. So that’s what I would say I’m most concerned about.
What do you look forward to in the future?
I look forward to a time where being non-binary is more commonplace, and where we don’t have to fight quite as hard just to kind of be. That’s what I look forward to.
Do you have a philosophy of life? What’s your best piece of advice?
I think it goes back to that other piece of advice, just telling your younger self: just be that person that you know you kind of are and stop fighting it. I mean it’s easier said than done. I fought it tooth and nail. I would say to stop fighting in that way. There are other battles to fight, but you shouldn’t have to fight your own internal battles. You’ll have plenty of time for that.
Are there any other questions you would have liked me to ask, or anything else you would like to talk about?
Other than I really love animals, I think that’s about it.