Part Seven of an interview with: Ren

I feel when I came out...as difficult as it was, when I met gender variant people who- they’re gender non-conforming, non-binary, genderqueer- I’m getting to know a lot more friends like that. I feel that they have a path that is a lot more nuanced than mine because when I came out, I’m like, “I’m a woman.” In people’s eyes, I can see see that switch go. It kind of goes from the man dial to the woman dial, and just be like, “treat me like a girl.” I love it, and I feel way more comfortable with that, but also realizing that...talking to one of my friend to came out to me as genderqueer, I asked them, “Do you have kind of a fear? Like a greatest fear inside?” And they said, “That people wouldn’t understand.”

 

Oh! well that fear is probably confirmed for them constantly. One of these days I’m going to start taking a tally of how many times I am incorrectly gendered in a singular day, because it’s almost like-I’m talking about this in my new bit of the show-but it’s almost like if people don’t know if I’m a man or a woman, then I’m presenting the way I feel. If they’re confused...because there’s no paradigm. There’s no set of markers to determine if someone’s genderqueer or non-binary. You just kind of go, “Oh well, they look mostly like a girl, so we’re going to go with girl or whatever. I’m pretty sure that they’re this.” Because they want it to be a certain thing. We’re not understood. Most people don’t understand, and most people are not open to being corrected in the same way yet that is now okay to correct other people around orientation. When I was identifying as a lesbian woman, people would assume that I was straight fairly often because for a good amount of the time there I was pretty high femme, and they were like, “Oh yeah! If you got a significant other, you can bring them over. What’s your boyfriends’ name?” and I would say, “I have a girlfriend. Her name is (this) or (that)...” And they’re like, “Oh!….okay.” And then it was like nobody was embarrassed about that after a while, but people are still embarrassed when I say, “Oh, actually, I’m not a she. I’m a Ze, or a they.” And they go, “Gasp! Oh my goodness. Oh, I am so sorry. You know- I didn’t know-I had no idea.” Of course you didn’t know. That’s fine that you don’t know. It’s okay that you didn’t know, but I’m telling you so you can live in my world with me and maybe even know me, and if I don’t do that then I’m not even giving you the opportunity. There’s a lot of practice all over the world that needs to be done on both ends on making space for non-binary gender variant people, and we all have to develop some collective guts. Both being willing to correct people-and once you correct people once or twice they’ll figure it out, they’ll come along. Hopefully. But then I also have what I call my ‘gender pronoun warriors’, which are the people who are around me who do the correcting for me, and that is lovely. It is the most wonderful thing in the world to just have that break, to just know that there’s that one person next to you and say, “Oh, actually, it’s a they. Or it’s a ze.”, and you just want to hug them because you know that they care about you. I’ve had friends ask me, “How much do you care if I mispronoun you?” And I’m like, “Well...I care about the intent and the motivation, for sure.” If it’s coming from laziness I think that’s kind of crap. Because if I weren't acknowledging you for something that you found out about yourself, that would suck. If you want to be close to me that’s what you do. I understand that it takes practice and a little bit of effort, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask. I think we just collectively got to…put in the practice, the time, and the effort as a society. I’m think that we’ll get there. Because I’m just seeing more and more non/variant people all the time. Now, in fact, I almost default they until I know. Because there’s lots of people that say, “Oh, well, I’m genderqueer but I tend to present in my femme. I’m assigned female, but I know who I am.” I’m like, “Okay! Cool.” I don’t bind everyday, it hurts! It causes back problems, so I don’t do it everyday. I don’t feel like I owe my presentation to anyone to know who I am and to defend who I am because my experience is different that what you might see on the outside.

 

(I don’t tuck everyday)

 

LAUGHTER