What are your pronouns?
Where do you work?
Urban Hound. It’s a dog daycare, training, grooming, field-trip-walking boutique hotel. It’s on Malden St. in the South End.
Do you have any hobbies or special interests?
What do you do for fun?
How do you handle the issue of pronouns and being gendered when interacting with strangers / mixed company / etc.?
I just correct them. I ask them to refer to me as “they” and Rocky and not my former name and “she.” Generally, if I don’t know them, it’s a lot easier. People who’ve known me a long time are the ones who say, “Carly – I mean, Rocky. I am so sorry.” At least they correct themselves.
Have you had difficulties with changing your name and the way it affects you moving through the world, being recognized how you want, or being mis-gendered?
Yeah. Like I said, people who’ve known me a long time will accidentally call me by my former name. My sisters obviously do it often. I have a lot of siblings, so it’s still confusing for a lot of them. But most of them will correct themselves. Sometimes I have to correct people. I have gotten a couple eye rolls from older family members when I say, “Please don’t refer to me as – “ I just get an eye roll and they continue. It’s like, Thanks guys.
[Rocky] is actually a nickname my dad gave me as a little kid. I used to get in a lot of fights because I had a bad attitude. So he said, “You’re a lot like Rocky Marciano,” – he’s a boxer – “So that’s what I’m gonna call you. That’s your name.” He’s good about calling me Rocky, because he always has.
What word(s) would you use to describe your identity?
Are there ways that you dress / act / speak / etc. to specifically make a statement to others about your identity? Why?
Not really. I just dress the way I always have.
How early on did you know or suspect that you did not identify within the binary?
When I was a little kid I used to tell people I was supposed to be born a boy but something went wrong. And my mom’s like, “You gotta stop telling people that.” As I got older I wasn’t as uncomfortable being a girl but I definitely didn’t really want to be one. I didn’t know what it was. And for a long time I thought I was trans, but I didn’t tell anybody, because I thought, I can’t 100% want to transition, because I don’t want to be a guy. So eventually I found out what non-binary was, or gender-fluid, and just started figuring that out, then I told people.
Do you think anything about the way you were raised or where you grew up affected how you drew conclusions about your identity?
I was always told I could be whatever I wanted to be. My dad used to joke around that I was his long-lost son because I acted so much like a boy in his mind. But I just think I acted like a little kid. Just a curious little kid. There’s no right way to be a boy or a girl. Which is good that my parents let me think that too. They were just like, “It’s okay, she’s a tomboy, she’s always gonna be a tomboy,” and when I came out as gay they were like, “You’re kinda butch, aren’t ya?” They didn’t really care what I wanted to do. When I was a little kid, a bunch of my friends in the neighborhood got that Barbie car, and my dad got me the G.I Joe Jeep. I think they kinda knew.
Can you give any examples of misconceptions people have about those who identify outside the binary? Have you personally dealt with them?
I get a lot of questions about my genitals, which is really awkward. It’s weird, people really do ask. Going to the bathroom is a big thing, because it’s like, I don’t want to go in the girls’ room. A lot of people will kinda eyeball you if you walk into a women’s bathroom. Like, I gotta sit to pee. It’s a little awkward to go into a men’s bathroom and sit down in a stall. I will do it though, because sometimes I really don’t care. I just gotta take a piss.
In your own words, how would you explain that gender identity is different from sexual orientation?
Your gender identity has absolutely nothing to do with your sexual identity. You can be straight and be gender-nonconforming. You can be gay and be cis. It doesn’t really affect one or the other at all.
How do you feel represented in media and society at large?
There’s almost no representation whatsoever. There’s very few trans actors playing trans people. A lot of times they’ll have males playing trans females or females playing trans males. Though the show The Fosters – it’s about two lesbians who have a bunch of foster kids – there is a trans male playing a trans male on the show. So that’s a plus.
What improvements would you like to see happen inside your communities, and in society at large?
I think there’s a lot of non-binary erasure going on. Even in the gay community, there’s the “Erase the T” movement.
They think that because it’s a gender thing rather than a sexual thing, they don’t belong in the LGBT community. Even in the “T” community, I know a lot of people fight about the whole non-binary thing, that being non-binary is not really being trans. But it’s the same umbrella, because it’s all a gender identity.
Could you tell me about an experience or moment in your life that was very impactful for you? It can be in regards to your identity, or not.
The biggest impact of my life was…my mother died 7 years ago from pancreatic cancer. From diagnosis to death was only 72 days. So she actually didn’t know. She probably had it for a really long time, the doctor said. But it’s one of those cancers you never catch until it’s in the end stage. That was pretty much earth-shattering. I never thought I’d lose my mom. [She was] 61. My parents had me very late in life, I’m the last of many children. She went to the hospital thinking that she possibly had a UTI because she had a lot of pain and wasn’t able to pee. So she went and they did a scan and they said, “You have a lump, looks like around your pancreas or liver, we’re going to send you to another hospital,” and then they did an MRI and it was more than just a lump. It was a tumor, and it was wrapped around her pancreas and going on to her liver. It was spreading at that point.
Could you give me an example of something difficult that occurred in your life how you dealt with it? It can be in regards to your identity, or not.
Less than six months later, my dad had a major heart attack. I almost became an orphan at 22. So that was difficult. And I was living with him at the time when this all happened. My sisters say my dad had his heart attack because he had Broken Heart Syndrome, which is totally possible. Both my parents had been married previously, had children, divorced, and then met each other and had more children. So I think my mom actually was the love of his life. He’s got so many tattoos dedicated to my mom.
After my dad had his heart attack, if I hadn’t come home at like 4 in the morning that day, he probably wouldn’t have lived. I came home and he was awake, and I asked, “Why are you awake?” and he said, “I just don’t feel good, I’ve been trying to throw up all morning but I just can’t. I think I’m having a heart attack.” If I didn’t come home, I don’t think he would’ve been able to get himself help. Because he couldn’t get up off the bathroom floor at that point when I got home.
Who in your life do you feel you can trust or depend on?
My sister. My sister is the shining ray of hope sometimes. I was really depressed while my mom was sick, and after, I was really depressed and I was kinda rebelling a lot. But my sister, she puts me in my place when I need to be. She says, “You need to do this.” Sometimes I forget to contact people, I’ll just live in my own head in my own little world, and she’s like, “Hey, haven’t heard from you in like a month, what are you doing?” I can trust her with absolutely everything. She’s probably the first person I ever told that I was some form of trans. And she’s like, “Yeah, I see it.” And when I told her I was non-binary she was like, “Yep, I knew it. Okay. We got this.”
How has your identity played a role in your relationships, romantic or otherwise?
My friends are all perfectly fine with it. Romantically, I dated – no offense to lesbians – I have dated lesbians who then break up with me because they’re like, “Well, you don’t identify as a woman, and I identify as a lesbian, and being gay is who you love not who you are,” or some shit like that. No offense. [laughs] I’d say my most recent ex, before the girl I’m with now – she identified as a lesbian, and at first she was like, “Oh yeah whatever it’s cool, it’s all right,” and then two or three months later she’s like, “No.”
My girlfriend kind of identifies as pansexual – I guess that’s the word for it. She’s only dated cis men and me. But she doesn’t care, it’s whatever. I think [bisexuality] is where pansexuality came from, because of people who identified as bisexual but they were dating someone who was trans; it’s like, Well this isn’t really in your binary of dating. No offense to bisexuals, I’ve dated plenty of them too.
Are you able to find adequate medical care?
Yes, I go to Fenway Health. They’re pretty good about everything.
Immediately when you get there, they give you the paperwork and it’s like, “What are your preferred pronouns? What is your name? What is your preferred name?” They’re pretty good about it. My doctor’s pretty cool. She actually led a conference on trans health about two years ago. She’s really nice. She’s great about everything. It’s just the easiest place to go.
How has your view of yourself changed since you were younger?
I don’t hate myself anymore, so that’s a plus. I was a very angsty teenager. I wore a lot of black. [laughs]
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Be open about yourself. Don’t try to make sense of it, because it’s not going to make sense. Just be yourself. If you want to be Rocky rather than Carly, or whatever you want to call yourself, just do it now, because when you’re 28, you’re going to be have a breakdown. [laughs] It’s not going to be fun.
What are your concerns for the future?
Personally, I’m concerned about if I have children – because I do want to have children eventually – what are they going to call me? There’s not very many non-binary or gender-neutral words for “parent.” I don’t want them to [call me] “parent” – that’s weird. And if I have children, if they eventually end up being trans or non-binary, I don’t want to stick them with a very feminine or masculine name. What would be something good that isn’t collectively gender-neutral?
What do you look forward to in the future?
I really don’t know. I don’t plan that far ahead, to tell you the truth. I just kinda go with it. I’ve learned that planning never really works out, so if you just go with it, it’s usually better. So I have no clue.
What have been the important frustrations in your life, and the most important successes?
Frustration: That I didn’t finish college. Maybe someday I’ll go back.
Success: Finally being comfortable with myself after 3 decades.
Do you have a philosophy of life? What’s your best piece of advice?
Give no fucks, take no shit, and fight for your fucking life. That’s the motto I live by.