The Adventures of the Boi Wonder: Sheltered Minds
“Search for meaning in sores
The sentences they might form
It’s the grammar of skin
Peel it back, let me in
Look for hope in the dark
The shadow cast by your heart
It’s the grammar of faith
No more rules, no restraint”
–“Sympathy” by Sleater-Kinney
I have the amazing power to make people’s heads explode. How do I do it? I can merely just out myself. The problem is that this usually follows a bunch of questions that I really don’t want to answer (either because I’ve answered them before or they are put in an invasive/offensive way). This superpower and the consequences of it could most likely primarily be traced to the audience of this information.
I may have mentioned before that I go to a pretty progressive and liberal campus. You would think that I would take advantage of this fact by hanging around with as many understanding and informed students as I could. Well…It didn’t really work out that way in terms of where I mainly haunt on campus (when I am not pacing up and down). Of all the places I could pick to spend my time, I picked hanging around with the Orthodox Jewish kids.
Now, this not to say that all Orthodox kids are sheltered and completely aware of LGBTQ identities, because that’s certainly not true. Actually, my two best and most accepting friends on campus happens to be a straight, cisgender Orthodox guy and his girlfriend. Yet, on the whole, it hasn’t been a pretty picture. There are people who have known me for almost a year, have heard people refer to me as “he” or as a guy, but still call me “she” or include me in statements such as “we have x number of girls right now”
There is now a well-known incident amongst my friends in which a person, being told that I was male-identified and that there were certain questions that are rude to ask. Well, what kind of questions am I suddenly ambushed with by this person at dinner? “So…What are you biologically?” I kid you not. I nearly had a panic attack after that whole event because I was afraid of what kind of questions that I’d get from other people or what she’d try to get me shunned/ousted from being a part of the campus Hillel for religious reasons. Luckily, she didn’t…But it is easy to tell that she seems quite uncomfortable with my presence. Plus, I am rather sure her grandma gave me a weird look when her family visited recently (oh my…Did someone do the “Guess what I just met!” phone call home?). Another, lesser-known incident (with a different person) involves being told at Shabbat dinner that Levi is a great, Biblical (and male) name and that she’d love to name her future son Levi…But then about 20 minutes later explicitly referring to me as “one of the women” that was there.
At this point, I really don’t try to correct some of these students when they get my gender identity and pronouns wrong. Partially because I don’t want a repeat incident, and partially because being the first trans person that someone has ever encountered can be pretty rough. There are some fellow queer students that keep their relationships an open secret around the same circles because they don’t want others to be uncomfortable. So, I can’t tell whether or not they already know and just refuse to deal with it or if they are just going off my appearance and voice (which I have said before honestly does not “pass” as male very well). It is an interest contrast to the rest of campus, where when they hear someone call me “he” enough times or a friend say “Levi’s a boy”, almost always tend to either correct themselves without fanfare, or profusely apologize for thinking/calling me otherwise.
Personally, I don’t want to be anyone’s representation for the trans community. I don’t want to be the first person to try to explain the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation. Honestly, I’d prefer not to have to clean up brain matter after I tell people that I’m trans and gay. But I guess that I may have to if I want my identity to be respected.
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