I’m non-binary and pansexual so I feel like if I don’t make an effort to be a vocal member of my community then no-one else will. Someone has got to do it so I might as well. I’ve got the confidence to do it and not everyone does so by doing that I’m helping other people.
Being binary Trans, I’m not saying its not difficult but according to government censuses being non-binary doesn’t even exist yet. So as long as I’m loud and vocal about being non-binary then eventually maybe it will get recognised as being a thing and we will get acceptance in society and things like that. That’s the main reason I try to be vocal because as of right now I’m not officially recognised. I feel like I have to emphasise that I’m not saying that being binary trans isn’t difficult, because it is, but I would like it if we got recognised as existing.
At the moment in society there is a very clear image of male and a clear image of female. It’s relatively easy to adhere to either of those images. You wear a dress, or you wear a shirt and trousers. You either have long hair or you have short hair. The difference between being binary trans and being non-binary trans is that when you are transitioning as a non-binary person there isn’t necessarily a goal. I want to pass, but I don’t know what that would be for me. I guess the basic idea would be to confuse people. I would like to have people see me and not be instantly labelled as “Sir”. Ideally, I’d like there to be a third little word that people use but for now I’d like to go into a restaurant and for them to go “Sir, oh no Ma’am”. Going stealth for a non-binary person is almost impossible at the moment because the rest of society doesn’t know what that looks like. You can’t secretly be non-binary because it is so different from what anyone else is at the moment.
I’ve not seen myself represented in mainstream media. Some celebrities have recently come out as non-binary and that’s quite affirming to see, but the first time I was exposed to someone non-binary was through a friend. My friend AJ, who I met quite a few years ago, they pass incredibly well as androgynous. I asked AJ when I met them “are you a boy or a girl” and they said “no”. And I was like “how does that work?” They explained it to me and for years I went along thinking I wish I was that and then I realised that’s what I was. I came out publicly this year and privately to my friends about a year and a half ago now.
I think coming out should always be a necessary step. I wouldn’t like to live in a society where coming out wasn’t necessary because there are some women who look like men and there are some men who look like women. Without people coming out and stating what they identify as we would never know. You shouldn’t be able to tell someone’s gender from the way they look so I think coming out is necessary. I think in an ideal society it is necessary to come out at some point. But depending on where you live in the world, it’s a bit more of a necessity not to come out as it might end up getting you ousted or maybe even killed.
When I was at school, I tried to change my school uniform, but I couldn’t have even started a petition. The students were just so middle class at my private school that they didn’t want the gender-neutral uniform policy. They liked their uniform. The older generation in particular don’t want to allow trans things to happen because they come up with stuff like “these people are trying to take my gender”. It’s not aimed at you, it’s for us. I see people who are transphobic posting comments like “these millennials would have me go out wearing a skirt”. We would have you go out wearing what you want.
Something a lot of people don’t understand is that passing isn’t just a societal thing. In the DSM, which is the psychological manual that’s got everything in it, the cure to gender dysphoria is to assign someone the correct gender either through surgery or societal transition. The advice that a psychologist will give you if you are suffering from gender dysphoria is to attempt societal transition. I can see the reason behind people not liking the term passing because for some people passing is a lot more difficult than others. Some people might think they will never pass for the way they want to look and the term passing is troublesome.
When people say LGBT terms are too much to learn, I think that’s a load of rubbish because they remember the names of everyone they know. You remember the gender of everyone you know, you remember their birthdays and you remember what date Christmas is. Why shouldn’t you remember your friend is asexual? It’s not difficult, it’s not like you have to know them all, but if someone says to you “I’m pansexual” you should remember that to be a decent friend. No one is expecting you to go out and learn every term in the LGBTQIA+ slogan because nobody does. Well maybe some people do. You should make an effort to respect what your friends identify as.
Whilst I don’t think the Uni has done anything for trans students, they haven’t done anything wrong either. The Pride Society certainly has done so much for acceptance. If the members of the committee weren’t really driving the events nothing would have happened really. I don’t know of anything that the Students’ Union has done in terms of Pride stuff. I’ve not had much contact with the Cornwall LGBT community because I’ve not been out that long. I’ve lived in Cornwall all my life and I’m out in Totnes. I've had quite a lot of contact with the Totnes Pride Community because that’s where I came out, that’s where all my friends were. I went to Cornwall Pride and that was good fun.
Absolutely binary gender has a place in today’s society. I think Gender should be important to society, but I don’t think it should limit your opportunities in society. Professionally, I think being trans has limited me a little. People don’t understand, I think my family thinks it’s a bit of a phase, but certainly in the way it’s affected my friendships and the way I think about myself it’s been a positive thing.
There are people who say that queer is a slur and that it ought not to be used in today’s society. But the thing about the word Queer is it didn’t originate as a slur, just like many other racial and disability slurs did. Queer was a word created by the LGBT community and then it was cruelly taken from us. Queer was a word created by us, for us and then it was used as a derogatory term, but I think now it’s being reclaimed, and I think that’s a really good thing. I think it shouldn’t be seen as a slur, I think it’s a good word to use. My conception of Queer is that if you are in the LGBT community, you are queer. I see a lot of people in the LGBT community saying to straight or cis people “I can use the word Queer, but you can’t”. Labels are alright as long as they are the label you choose yourself, not the label someone else has chosen for you.
Please normalise telling people your pronouns. Sometimes I’ll meet someone new and I’ll say well what are your pronouns and they’ll look at me like I’ve just spat on their shirt. They’ll look at me as if to say “you can’t tell?” and it gets quite difficult because so many people meet me and instantly default to the he/him pronouns when I use they/them pronouns and so please normalise asking people their pronouns and telling people your pronouns because it should be so easy but I find when I ask people “what are your pronouns they almost get insulted which makes things difficult. People are more likely to apologise for getting a dog’s pronouns wrong than getting a trans person's pronouns wrong. We are so focused on gender in society that we can’t help ourselves but think of cats as female and dogs as male. They are animals, they can have both genders, that’s okay. Even some languages attach genders to tables. Why?
Interviewed by Amelia