Coming out

I posted this on Facebook on Thursday, February 13, 2014. Reposting it here for wider viewing.

I’ve written this message over and over in my head. I couldn’t think of a good reason not to finally commit it to Facebook.

I’m genderqueer. For now, I’m still using he/him as pronouns.

Maybe let’s back up slightly. About a year ago I wrote the first in the series of posts for Bad Hessian on forecasting the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race. A good friend (Mandy Hayden) encouraged me to begin the show and within weeks I had caught up on all four seasons, ready for season 5. Thus began the career of Kate Silver, the Nate Silver of the drag world.

Like many things in my life, this was an attempt to put some distance between my personal life and my public face, the same kind of defense mechanism that makes me giggle or put a joke in when talking about sensitive political topics or whatever. Another defense mechanism I have is to make an academic endeavor out of personal issues, or to throw myself into work when I don’t want to think about politics or any kind of the terrible shit that’s overwhelming. In a word, drag forecasting was my way of being gender-nonconforming out in the very open.

I’ve been exploring this for a while now; it’s a realization that hit me like some kind of profound enlightenment, unannounced, unexpected, but wholly right. I’ve been scared, restless, but feeling more and more elated and coming into my own skin. I’ve tried to find trans narratives that have matched mine, and while some have had glimmers it’s been a tough time to find those which I can rest in (some good articles on this: http://www.bilerico.com/2013/03/the_emergence_and_danger_of_the_acceptable_trans_n.php and http://www.owldolatrous.com/?p=838). I do love to watch *Paris is Burning*, and like my friend Jimmy, I find solace every time I do. And there’s been Imogen Binnie’s *Nevada*, clips of which I would screen shot and read over and over again. Also: Big Freedia.

Most of all, though, there’s been a lot of amazing people in my life to help me through. My friends in Madison and elsewhere, I would be nowhere without them. My advisor, Pamela Oliver, has been nothing but the most supportive, and I’m truly fortunate (and if I was religious, I would say blessed) to have these people behind me.

And I don’t know where I’d be without roller derby. Derby’s been a place where I can explore my own gender without fear and inhibition, where I can play with femininity and physicality. And where else can I wear tights plastered with cats in space and get mad compliments?

I know I’ve got a lot of privilege where I’m at. I live in Madison, which is a relatively safe place for queer people, and am in a PhD program in sociology, a field where we talk a lot about gender and don’t have to be told twice that it’s a social construction and is performed and yadda yadda Agnes. I’m dearly thankful for that. I also know there’s a lot of ways to go for trans rights, from simply getting proper medical care and using restrooms with which we’re comfortable, to having safe housing and not being incarcerated in prisons with people of a gender with which we don’t identify.

I’m not sure I’m ready to be activist for these things quite yet. I’m still doing a lot of figuring out of my gender, knowing that it’s fluid and possibly not at an equilibrium. Maybe gender fluidity is my new normal. But I do know that I want to be out, and I hope that in and of itself is a political act, one that makes non-binary trans people more visible in academia and in general.

I hope y’all have an amazing Valentine’s Day. Spend it loving yourself and those around you.

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