I imagine anyone who reads this blog knows I am non-binary / transgender. My gender – like most people’s gender – is a key part of what makes me who I am. I am out loud and proud and I love my gender identity. It is one for my favourite Yennski attributes. I have been out since 2018. I changed my name in 2019 and have not looked back since!
Sadly not everyone shares my enthusiasm for my gender identity. The world is full of nasty bigots who would hate and invalidate me for the crime of daring to exist. As soon as I came out I was faced with a barrage of bigotry and people judging me. I lost a number of ‘friends’ – but thankfully I gained some new – and more genuine – friends.
Most people aren’t bigoted but many need some education. An example is my pronouns. I have they / them pronouns and have had these since about five minutes after I came out. My pronouns denote how I want people to understand me. Pronouns are very important but some people struggle with this. In fact I struggled with this at first. For about three months I misgendered myself more often than not because I had she / her pronouns for the preceding 43 years and it took some getting used to! Misgendering falls into a few categories, There are people who always get it right. I have a friend like this and I am yet to hear her misgender me. Then there are people who try but get it wrong more often than not and then give a genuine apology. Then there are people who get it wrong and treat me like I am being difficult and then there are bigots who intentionally get it wrong and tell me that they won’t ever use my pronouns. The most common one is the one where they get it wrong then apologise. I don’t mind this at all. As I said I got it wrong myself for a long time so I understand. I will now gently remind people if they get it wrong which usually goes off well. I got so frustrated a couple of years ago that I very briefly considered changing my pronouns back. I then realised that doing this would be negating my identity and I would hate myself forever if I did this. So I am left with reminding people not to misgender me!
One issue I get is where people assume I am female. My gender expression is slightly more feminine than masculine but I don’t think I look somehow ‘girly’. I think a lot of people have two ‘boxes’ in their mind for gender – the boy box and the girl box. Everyone apparently has to fit in one of other box, even if they don’t – like me. So people squish me into the ‘girl’ box because that is the only option available in their mind. It means I face a lot of erasure and get called ‘lady’ of ‘girl’ – which I utterly hate! I want people to understand that there are definitely not just two boxes for gender and that I am DEFINITELY not a girl / woman! I guess I should be grateful that these people don’t attack me physcially. I have a number of trans friends who face violence from strangers due to ‘looking’ trans. People make me very angry and sad sometimes.
My name is a key element of my gender identity. I changed my name in early 2019 and changed it legally a couple of months after that. When I came out in 2018 I wanted to change my name but I couldn’t come up with a suitable name. I decided to leave it up to my subconscious to find a name. Some months later and I was at work. The name ‘Yenne’ came into my mind. I wrote it down and thought it wasn’t quite right. I then wrote ‘Yenn’ and knew in that split second that this was who I was. When I unpacked it I realised that to Yen in poetry is to yearn. Not only am I a very self reflective person, I am also a published poet so thought this was fantastic. It also had a few letters that were also in my dead name so ti was a nod to the past. And it was a genderless name in Australia. I love that if I am in a doctors office and the doctor hasn’t met me that they come out and look at everyone thinking ‘who is Yenn?’ because it is not immediately obvious who I am! I really dislike my dead name. It is not me. It was never me. I am, was and always will be Yenn. I embraced my name instantly. Even my parents get it right and they gave me my dead name! People often say ‘nice name’ to me and it is a nice name.
I am a reasonably high profile transgender person in the neurodivergent community which is mostly quite lovely. Other transgender autistic people thank me for my work and tell me that things I have written have helped them, which is lovely. There are a lot of neurodivergent transgender people. I go to a trans meetup in Canberra and one time the convenor asked people to raise their hand if they were neurodivergent and most of the attendees raised their hands! We are a community and it is a community I feel proud to belong to.
My name, my pronouns, my identity, my community? These are a liberation. I am free.
2 thoughts on “Gender diversity – a liberation ”
My wife always has problems with gendered pronouns when speaking in English. Her native tongue has no gendered pronouns, and in fact pronouns are avoided as much as possible. So when the need comes up for her to insert a pronoun in an English sentence, she seems to insert he or she quite randomly, much to the annoyance of many people.
Personally I’d like to see a non-gendered English third person singular personal pronoun introduced to replace he/she. I doubt that’s ever going to happen, so perhaps the best compromise is for third person plural – they – to be universally used. I find myself frequently using it in situations where I might have once used he/she in the past without even realising it.
Yes it would be nice not to have pronouns at all!
I’m non-binary but I don’t mind people using she/her because I can’t even get the hang of they/them myself, so it’s just easier all round. I’m embarrassed to admit I would probably accidentally mis-gender you, Yenn, if I wasn’t thinking about it.
Hopefully people like me will start getting the hang of they/them with practice as it gets used more commonly. (The gen-z youngsters seem to be better at it!)