On my birthday last year I came out as trans and agender, (https://jerbearinsantafe.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/on-my-birthday-a-look-back/) but I am not sure everyone saw it. I want to briefly give a breakdown of events in my life that led to this decision.
In the fall of 1975 I came out to my first person. Kevin was a wonderful flaming gay youth of 17 or 18 and a fellow first year student. Unfortunately the negative pressure on him from church (Seventh-Day Adventist) and family led to him committing suicide over the Winter break. This led to some sadness and panic on my part and I fled back into the closet for over a decade.
In February of 1987 I came out as gay and ran into a former schoolmate from college at a local bar. Turns out he was afraid I’d catch him in action with another guy while he was fooling around with a guy in a room I supervised as an RA in the men’s dorm. I also ran into a cop who’d taken a shine on me while I was a college student earning money as campus security. I used to ride along with him on his patrols and in retrospect dropped some hints including a night in his bed which I now realize must have been very frustrating for him as nothing happened.
As 1987 rolled on I gained more and more friends in the LGBTQ community and stormed out of the closet. I attended gay pride in Boston and on October 11, 1987 I was in Washington, D.C. for the March on Washington for LG Rights (no b, t or q yet). I also saw the first display of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. I was volunteering at AIDS Project Worcester and when an opening for Client Advocate and Gay Outreach Coordinator became available I applied and got the position.
All the while gender was an unresolved issue for me. I was really influenced by Rev. Jay Deacon at the Unitarian Universalist LGBT office in Boston who came out and spoke at the UU Church in Worcester soon after being arrested at a protest at the Supreme Court over the then decision upholding Sodomy laws. Jay talked about how we were a special people who were between male and female and used Harry Hay’s philosophy that was the founding basis for the Radical Faeries which mixed in gender bending with queer sexuality. This seemed to be a fit for me at the time but because I was busy I didn’t explore it as much as I should have.
Over the years I became friends with several transgender people but always from the more binary trans model (trans men and trans women). Over time as I moved to New Mexico and got acquainted with transgender First Nations people I became aware that there was a tradition of multiple genders among some Indigenous Peoples.
Finally a few things happened. A neighbor came out as genderqueer but it didn’t quite click as I only saw it among people assigned female at birth. All that changed with a news story. In 2013 a high school student, (Sasha), who was assigned male at birth but now identified as agender, was riding home on a bus when a young man set Sasha’s skirt on fire which sent them to the hospital with severe burns. The news made national headlines and opened up many people’s eyes to trans identities that were between or beyond gender.
I researched online and poured over posts on Tumblr and other blogging platforms. The more I read the more I realized this is what I’d been searching for all my life. After much thought I decided that I was agender. I had never felt particularly male or female. Yes I could act like a guy but I didn’t feel like a guy. The confusion for me was that I didn’t feel completely female either. I felt like neither male or female and so realized I was in fact agender which falls under the umbrella term genderqueer.
I have been openly agender/genderqueer for over a year and a half. I am now a proud part of the Trans community here in Santa Fe as well as in New Mexico. I chronicled my gender journey on my blogs jerbearinsantafe.wordpress.com and fairyjerbear.tumblr.com
I had my story featured on the New York Times Website and reproduced here on my blog, (https://jerbearinsantafe.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/i-am-out-as-agender-to-the-world-because-im-in-the-new-york-times-online/), and participated on a panel with other trans people. I feel completely at home in the Trans community which welcomes me and other non-binary trans people (besides agender there are quite a few other non-binary identities such as bigender, polygender, neutrosis, or just genderqueer).
I love the liberation I feel as an agender person. I can live my life unencumbered by the restrictions of gender. I love wearing skirts and knee high socks or leggings with a colorful or message t-shirt. I like to say I feel beyond gender. I am not bound by gender roles and norms. I lean a bit femme in my gender expression at least I do when I feel safe. I feel free from the toxic masculinity that sometimes had me ensnared. I can be as kind, empathetic and gentle as I feel with those around me. I’m blazing a new trail as an trans agender fairy care bear. I love my trans brothers and sisters and my fellow non-binary/genderqueer friends.
My community is now in the bullseye for the radical right. They are using the bathroom issue to try and demonize my community. I support the right of my trans women and trans men friends to use the restroom that aligns with their gender. Me and other non-binary/genderqueer people really need gender neutral restrooms to feel safe. So here in Santa Fe we have an ordinance that requires all single stall restrooms to be gender neutral. All we want is to pee in peace without being hassled. Is that too much to ask?
I’m happy to answer questions but will not allow people to heap negative, transphobic comments upon me. I am the same person I was just new and improved. Now you know a trans/agender person. I feel so much better being my authentic self. I hope you feel the same way about me.