The experiences of transgender and genderqueer folks are diverse, but often ignored. In honor of these communities—and their losses—on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, dot429 interviewed a few genderqueer and trans* people whose powerful words speak to both the need for awareness and the acknowledgement of diversity.
Billy Hernandez told us, “I love combining stereotypical masculine features with feminine features because it sets an example for others who are not sure how to externally express themselves. When I’m at work, I dress in typical male business attire, but I combine it with a face full of makeup and manicured nails.”
Regarding his reception in society and they way he feels he is impacting society at large, he said, “Most of my peers are receptive and understanding of why I express myself in this manner; however, for those who ask questions, it opens up room for me to educate them on the varying degrees of gender fluidity/gender non-conformity.”
San Francisco resident and radical Max Baby says of his experiences, “Once I found out I could identify as I wanted to and people would support me it was one of the biggest reliefs I have ever experienced.”
He added, “I also want to give a shout out to the movement of awareness because it has brought people into my life that can provide support that is no where else provided. Like when someone has been exposed to gender politics and has the intent to not only be respectful but is open to criticism like when they make mistakes, it feels like the most incredible feeling ever. It’s like unconditional love, it is very genuine.”
Another interviewee, Tim, who identifies as genderqueer, said of their experience, “Genderqueer-ness is amorphous. It lets me drill down to my core identity and reflect on what I actually find as opposed to what I am supposed to find. I think it helps others with this as well—sometimes I feel burdensome asking for gender-neutral pronouns and speech, but commonly cis people don’t reflect on how gendered language is. I think I invite that level of reflection just from my existence.
“Pushing back against people’s expectations and assumptions is a constant part of the experience and communicating comfortably can be difficult in social situations. Most of the default world understands transgenderism these days, but rejecting the binary is not widely understood and non-trivial to communicate to someone who has never contemplated it. Visibility is important to build understanding.”
Tim added that in their view, the Transgender Day of Remembrance “is a critical time to stare into the reality of the consequences of being unknown, misunderstood, and different. It inspires me toward courage, activism, and acceptance.”
These three interviews represent a small fraction of trans* and genderqueer experiences, yet they all speak to a desire for awareness in some way or another. Some experiences are joyous, others are tragic, but ultimately they are all human experiences.