On Friday night, I came out to my parents. So much has happened this week and month, it was difficult for me to write anything anywhere. Tonight I finally shared some words on Facebook. I’ll include them here, but first I want to say thank you to everyone who has offered me support on this blog. Fellow queer and trans bloggers, other writers, and your own life, Les. I’m not quite done here (don’t mean for it to sound that way), but I do want to offer thanks. Writing about gender and sexuality has been a challenge lately, and I still need to respond to a post by Kameron (I appreciate your thoughtful nomination, and I want to do the same when I’m in a better headspace), but I’m grateful to have a place to help process this difficult and rewarding topics.
Below is my Facebook post.
Yesterday was my 24th birthday and yesterday was my first full day out as nonbinary trans to my parents. After years of working up to it, I finally shared that I am not a girl two nights ago. Yesterday was filled with love, sweet sunshine, and a raucous nearly naked bike ride. Yesterday I was on the verge of tears most of the day. I wanted to find a nest in which to curl up and grieve because this month has been filled with joys but also heartache and frustration.
Two weeks ago, I spent the weekend in Seattle with my cousins. On our second night, I scampered down Pike and Broadway ahead of them jumping off steps and yelling “parkour” then giggling. Passing storefront after storefront with Pride flags or safe place stickers, and with much anticipation, I finally got to skip across a rainbow crosswalk. I wasn’t thinking QUEER WONDERLAND because I question the protections afforded to LGBTQ people by corporatization of a movement, but I was celebrating rainbows. What a happy human I was to be laughing on rainbows. My cousins convinced me to remain still for a moment for a couple photos.
The next morning, while looking through those photos, I learned about the shooting in Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando on Latin Night. Casualties were still being counted.
When I laid my head to rest the previous night, shots were already being fired.
My first reaction was fear that Muslim communities and brown folks would be targeted. An act of violence by an extremist is not a reason to harass a community that that extremist person claims connection to. One attack does not justify another. Hatred displayed towards one community does not warrant hatred towards another (and no, being queer and being muslim are not mutually exclusive).
In following weeks, I have been in a state of grief. What do queer clubs represent to LGBTQ folks? For some, they are the only place a person can go and feel comfortable in their skin and more safely display affection for those they are attracted to.
Last week I attended PRIDE for the first time in my life. I started coming out as queer when I was 12 but Portland’s PRIDE parade has always been on Father’s Day. Over the years, I learned to not be interested. This year, I told my parents where I needed to be (“because Orlando”), walked out my front door, and bused alone downtown. I stood in a crowd alongside the parade clapping, cheering, and weeping. 8 days prior, the faces in photos had still been breathing.
Being queer means that every time I hold hands with someone I’m sweet on, another person could perceive it as a political act. Ask any queer you know if they feel safe holding hands at night when they see a strange man or group of men in the distance. I know when to let my lovers’ hands drop. Being queer means every time I use “her” or “their” in reference to a lover, I out myself as an other. This means much less to me than it did a few years ago. I don’t care anymore. Largely because I live in a place where I usually don’t have to worry about being mistreated or fired. I also forgot how to give a damn.
Survival means knowing how to adapt.
Spiritual survival is learning how and when to stand up.
While working up to coming out to my parents last week, I read about the attack on Michael Volz, a transgender activist in Seattle. They were leaving a fundraiser for victims of the shooting in Orlando. In Capitol Hill, near rainbow crosswalks and rainbow stickered storefronts I scampered past two weeks ago, their attacker said “Hey, Happy Pride,” made a sexualized slur, then beat them to the ground.
Loving queer and trans people means I constantly pray for their safety. Especially if they are black or brown and/or trans, I wish them protection. I wish them light, love, and safety from bigotry.
I wish my friends and lovers access to restrooms, healthcare, and employment.
Being nonbinary means every time I walk into a women’s restroom, I look at the sign and think “not me.” But I have to pee. I just need a restroom. Being nonbinary but being mistaken for a girl by almost every single person in my life every single day means that I am safer than many trans people. But being mistaken by a girl by almost every single person in my life every single day means that I feel less visible and less human.
Emotional survival is allowing “girl,” “woman,” and “lady,” to slide off me and picking another time and place to correct someone, if at all.
Being a gender other than woman or man means that I have to explain my identity to almost everyone I meet but I do not have the time or strength to explain it to everyone I meet. Being trans means that although my parents’ love for their children is a beautiful force of light, I made sure I had emergency savings before I came out.
Because 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ and I know my parents love me to pieces but transphobia dominates our national history and broad narratives.
Survival means being practical.
I worked full-time for above minimum wages as a white college graduate before being unofficially laid off by one of my jobs a couple weeks ago, and I can’t afford to move into my own place and save for next steps in this rapidly gentrifying Portland. Imagine how greater the challenges are for queer and trans youth of color and youth without high school diplomas or college degrees.
Despite progress for most communities, we are not a postracial, postcolonial, or post any kind of systematic and interpersonal discrimination society.
As a queer and trans person, I struggle to find workplaces where I can dress in a way that does not give me excessive gender dysphoria. I struggle to find work which aligns with my values that will not burn me out.
Last night I biked shirtless in underwear with my sister and first partner/now good friend. I wore shiny green shorts, a fannypack, and a rainbow spinny hat that whirred in the wind.
We were alive and laughing, but much of the time, I was also reserved and distant. I was finally out as trans to my parents and it had gone better than hoped, and I was still grieving.
I’m working for a world in which I do not worry about the wellbeing of my loved ones and loved ones I’ll never meet because they are trans, queer, female, and/or people of color.
Survival means dreaming of and working toward a better future.
We’ve got work to do better loving each other.
We hold each other’s lives in our hands. Every day, we hold each other’s lives in our hands.
I’m out. I’m queer and I’m not a girl or boy.
And I love life. I love life, and I love you.