Pronouns and Visibility
I haven’t spoken much about it in a public space yet, but I’ve changed my pronouns to they/them and have decided to be open about being agender. I’m still a woman, I’m just a non-binary woman without a gender.
If you’re confused, well, honestly I am a bit too. There’s a certain duality to it, I admit. But the truth is that I express my gender differently in different spaces, and that’s totally okay. I switched to they/them because voice training actually made me dysphoric and NYC has so many femme male-identified hipsters that nobody thinks I’m a woman. It got so bad that I developed selective mutism because I was so afraid of being misgendered. Identifying as non binary sometimes feels like a cop out, but it lets me celebrate my transness in public in a way I didn’t feel comfortable doing when it meant not passing. I also want to stipulate that it is NOT a cop out, but my actual reality. It was just really hard for me to come to terms with that, because of my own internalized gender constructs.
I made the change in my daily life a few months ago, and it’s really helped me to settle into a place of happiness, comfort, and confidence. People still use ‘he’ for me instinctively a lot, but I’ve noticed it’s a lot easier to correct people to they. I don’t think this is a statement on society or anything else, but rather: I am more comfortable asking strangers to use they/them than I am asking them to use she/her. That level of comfort is all that I need—it just feels right—and it has helped me to understand that my inner truth is that I have no fixed gender.
The thing I love the most about choosing to identify publicly as non binary is that I don’t have to explain my transness to anyone anymore. I really think it was the last piece of the puzzle to me really moving into a place of mental health. Just being able to approach everything with a sense of 100% confidence because what I’m presenting is exactly what I am and I don’t feel the weight of other people’s expectations anymore. There’s no “dudemode” for me anymore. No more anxiety about passing. Just me being 100% me. Sometimes I’m comfortable with my body as it currently looks and sometimes I’m feeling so comfortable I want to embellish her.
Another reason why I love being agender is that I know so many trans women for whom their womanhood is a lot more central to their identity than mine has really ended up being to mine. I’m extremely sensitive to how fundamental that is to them and really respect that. By identifying as agender I feel that I can talk more freely about my experiences as being parallel to trans womanhood within the larger umbrella of trans femininity rather than a version of trans womanhood where my transness or my womanness was somehow less important than it is for other trans women.
I have a different coming of age story from a lot of the trans women I know. I identified as a super queer gay boy for most of my life and I did a lot of heavy lifting on my relationship to femininity long before I knew I was a woman. Those parts of me have been there for a lot longer than I’ve identified them as part of my transness.
Corollary to all that: deciding I’m okay with getting gendered as a super queer male by most of the strangers I meet makes me feel like my transness is invisible in this way that really scares me, so deciding to just go genderfuck allows me to embrace my love affair with estrogen while being a male-perceived strangely beautiful person named Juliana with a gorgeous deep voice and zero tolerance for sexist bullshit.
That is the reality of who I am.
I am so deeply queer at every intricate, intimate moment. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I fell in love with architecture history because of the ancient pattern of signaling that is used throughout the millennia and now I get to use those analytic skills on the architecture of my body to critically analyze how each section can be portrayed and perceived and just play with people’s conditioned need for a binary structure by refusing to comply with it in a way that is deeply, thoroughly methodical.
Because in my heart, being deeply methodical with minute attention to aesthetic detail is exactly who I am. I developed this mode of interrogating life in grad school, sharpened it in the professional world, then used it on my gender.
I feel a deep need to queer every positive narrative in my life. It’s the queerness that helped me survive.
Happy Pride, everyone