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  • Writer's pictureTrisha Bhattacharya

Season: 2; Int: HerView 4- TO BE (yourself) OR NOT TO BE (yourself)? ALWAYS THE FORMER!

Updated: Jun 26, 2022

Hey guys, it's pride month and no this is not one such blog I do every year during June (technically, yes) but I made a really cool friend online over the past few months and I think their story is really powerful. I am moved by their courage at such a young age to face the cruelty of the world, regarding their identity, how they feel about themselves. This is less of an interview but more of an ongoing honest conversation between me (who didn't have such difficulties growing up) and them, since the time we started speaking.

You would find asking me probably weird questions (maybe those that don't sound politically correct for the online world (especially), but I want them to be candid and blunt even if they sound silly) because won't it be rather better to be weird and ask simple questions if you lack knowledge regarding the LGBTQ+ community than just judging them for who they are?. This conversation is to open your minds and aims at doing the basic thing we can do- educate as much as we can about the community's struggles, achievements, revolutions, respect them as people-just like you and me and of course, their experiences! Here's my friend introducing themselves...

My name is Alex or Syd. I am agender, asexual, and I use they/them pronouns, I have had people shout my deadname deliberately to upset me and they've called me slurs (the f slur, the t slur, and the d slur) but not to my face. I've just heard from other people that they use those slurs for me. A few teachers at my school have been difficult and obstinate for no reason about using my new name and its gotten me in trouble because I was apparently "giving them attitude". With homophobia it's different because I don't really display my sexuality that much purely because its just not really that important to me. But I still receive hate for being LGBTQ+ because they still assume I am gay as well. (I'm unlabeled in terms of sexuality but am also okay with going under the label panromantic asexual).

With sexism it's always been people making me do the less difficult jobs or putting me 2nd in importance to a boy, and at the time I was like about 10 so I didn't understand that it was sexism, I assumed it's just people being 'weird'. People have always dismissed me and patronized me because I am female (female, not a girl, there's a difference) as if I need extra help. I am literally only 13 and it started happening at my age of 7-8.

Trisha: I would say a thing, you are definitely mature than 13 and I am so glad you are able to distinguish these things now early on. People might be hard even after, you please do what feels right because the right people will definitely find you.

Thanks, I'm really glad I can try and help make a change. Absolutely, I'm just so excited to go through all these changes in life because hey, gender is fluid I guess so you know! :))

When did you come out? And how did people react to it?

Well last year in February, I came out as genderfluid, using any pronouns and people were really accepting but I didn't tell my parents. Over time, I started to realize that I was always feeling gender neutral, and in around September, I came out as agender, using they/them pronouns (which means you have no gender at all) and it felt so freeing finally finding myself, obviously it might change in the future but at the moment, I'm really happy with who I am! I feel like the pronouns just came into place and correlated with the gender I was/am at the time so I didn't really have the struggle finding out what pronouns to use! But the name thing was a huge thing to consider and I feel like it was less important than finding my gender and pronouns but it's still part of my journey. :)

With the 2nd time coming out, everyone was mostly fine with it, there was a teacher and my librarian at school who were really crappy about it, for example, my librarian reported me because I was being "rude" by asking her politely not to call me and my friend girls, bare in mind this lady had shouted at me and my friends for not saying hello to her every time we see her so yeah she's really entitled. There was another teacher (my drama teacher) who was really hesitant about using my new name. So I'll give you some context, we were doing our drama assessment and we had to perform in pairs so when we were rehearsing she called different pairs over to ask what order they wanted to perform in (like if they wanted to be first/last or something) so she called me and my friend over and wrote our names down but she wrote my deadname (I hadn't come out to her yet btw) and I said, "Oh just to let you know miss, I changed my name to Alex recently" and you know the first thing she said? She said, "Oh but it's not like that on the register." So I said well surely it doesn't matter because everyone calls me that anyway and I'm getting it changed soon, and she just straight up ignored me and started talking to someone else. So once she finished talking I raised my voice and asked her to stop ignoring me, she said that I was being really rude and disrespectful. I literally just said, "Are u actually serious?" and just walked away. When she called me and my friend up to perform she used my new name but I messed up my whole performance because I couldn't stop thinking about it.

So like when you realized you are agender how exactly was the transition like, do you gradually sense a change from your assigned birth gender and the norms it follow? (I am not sure if the question here is triggering to you, the reader, it wasn't to Alex. However, thoughts please to frame it better?)

You came out last Feb but were you aware of it from a long time, like were you holding back anything?

For me, because I was genderfluid first I already had an insight on how it felt to be genderless so it was less scary a transitioning, but in terms of my assigned birth at gender I'm completely free of it and it's so affirming. Although I do still experience gender dysphoria.

I think I always knew I felt more genderless but over time I just felt more and more outside the binary.

So since the time you told me about all that previous unfortunate incidents, has there been any betterment in people around you in the way they treat you? Also do you see some change in people or things or anywhere all of sudden during pride month and you know they might die out once the month ends?

I've had a few friends who have been passively homophobic and transphobic but aren't against it, they're just ignorant about it to be honest. But after a few weeks of being around them more, they slowly became more supportive and now correct others when I get misgendered or deadnamed. It makes me so happy seeing that I've made a difference in people even though it may seem difficult, the key is to just be patient but also to know when a person's viewpoint can or can't be changed. I think although pride month is great for raising awareness, it doesn't necessarily change the way a lot of people think. I've seen a lot of people saying negative things about pride month like they put a picture of people of the military saying "This is real bravery; why don't these soldiers have a month?" and then a picture of an LGBTQ+ march saying how that isn't bravery and we don't deserve a month. The thing is, the military has April (for young people from armed forces' families), May (military appreciation month), and November (military family month). If the people posting these kind of things actually cared about the military, they would look at the months for themselves instead of stating false information.

As well as this, pride month brings SO much tokenism in big companies. Many change their logos for June and say how much they support LGBTQ+ but once June is over they never say a word about it. I understand that the designated month will make companies more aware of it at that time but it's as if they stop supporting the moment June ends. and I see so many signs saying "*insert company* have been supporting the LGBTQ+ community for 4 years", ok so where were you 5 years ago and prior to that? It's also so ridiculous that some items are more expensive because they are pride based, for example, the pride vaseline is £1.95 and the normal one is £1. I know prices vary depending on where you are but LGBTQ+ items are always more expensive than the normal ones.

Trisha: Woah, I didn't know about this product, why is there a pride Vaseline even? It's ultimately a cream right? Sorry didn't get it. Although this was insightful.

Yeah and most companies just make rainbow items for pride month because it saves face and stops them from looking bad, they don't even care about queer people. The tokenism is unreal.

As they say it sometimes gets hard for cis het people to understand your pain points and acknowledge them but like what's the basic fundamental thing they could least do which would not be considered inappropriate for the LGBTQ+ people?

Yeah, because I guess if you're not in the minority group, you (not you specifically) may not know what the day-to-day issues are. Something that companies could do is donate a certain portion of money to LGBTQ+ charities that will cover different aspects of issues for queer people or support their LGBTQ+ employees in a social aspect.

Is there a particular issue in the LGBTQ+ community that we often ignore or don't know (much) about?

I think something that isn't usually focused on is how difficult it is to know if you're safe or not to come out because a lot of people don't due to the fact that they aren't 100% sure that they will be in a secure position.

Have you been to pride parades or anything of that sort of involvement to express yourself?

And have you had any moments of liberation and unrestrained expression that has made you feel you are bold and made you happy?

Not yet but I'm going to London pride and Brighton trans pride in July! I've been to pride groups/meetups, I have one called Metro Zest every Friday and they often have events for example, a barbecue (which I'm performing at with my friend, River- they/them) on Sunday. Being in a queer space is so safe for me, I feel free and happy around others like me. I want to show few pictures of my best friend who was the first friend I came out to, and the first picture I took after I got my haircut (my profile picture (below)).

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