Pride Is All Year Round, not just June

Since Pride month has come to an end, I wanted to remind you that you should (if you are able), to be proud of yourself during the rest of the year. But don’t get me wrong, I look forward to Pride month every year as much the next queer person – its the one month of the year where you can celebrate diversity, self-acceptance, and inclusivity within the community (hopefully in spite of all the discourse). But Pride means lots of different things to lots of different people – and you don’t even have to celebrate that during Pride month. For some, it might be a time to celebrate how far they’ve come (for example, in terms of their transition), or it might be a time to reflect on how to support more marginalised members of the LGBTQ+ community – but no matter how you choose to celebrate, its correct.

However, I wanted to acknowledge about the fact that we’ve still got a long way to go, and that we should be celebrating our complex identities all year round – because pride is still crucial. Now, I’m very vocal about being  visibly queer, because by being yourself is the most radical thing you can do, and it is a way that you can be an activist. By being yourself, you may allow someone to come out, or at least give them the courage to be comfortable in their identity. Now I’ve been out and proud for a while, so I’m aware of the process, but I understand that not everyone can come out, so I know that I’m one of the lucky ones. 

We still have a long way to go however. It’s crucial that we support the trans community (especially since Pride was started by two trans women of colour) – but it’s still stands that we support the trans community because a). the media isn’t great on reporting on trans issues (at least in the UK)  and b). trans people still face a lot of discrimination. It’s also crucial that we support transfeminie people of colour, because they are the most marginalised members of our community – so it would be a massive disservice if we don’t support and raise up their voices. I’d recommend finding LGBTQ+ people in other minority groups and listening to them and raising their voices – because they know best about their experiences, so by sharing a thread on Twitter of theirs, or a blog of theirs for example,  you are using your privilege to give a voice to less privileged members of the LGBTQ+ people. 

Thirdly, and simple put, we still need to fight for our rights – even in 2019. Though we have made great strides in the UK for example (e.g. marriage between same sex in the UK has been legalised) – we still have a lot of rights to fight for (e.g. its still illegal to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community in many parts of the world). Even if you can’t help directly, you are not powerless – you can use your voice to share about it on social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram. 

You can continue to support queer creators year round, not just during Pride Month – especially since rainbow capitalism  unfortunately exists – so support actual LGBTQ+ creators, bloggers, film makers etc, rather than big corporations who take advantage of Pride month. 

Finally, try and balance partying and protesting – because whether you believe pride is a protest or a party– find a balance. I personally believe both can coexist, because it’s important to celebrate how far we’ve come,  but I also understand that we still have a long way to go.

I hope you’ve had a fabulous pride month, and remember that you should be proud to be yourself throughout the year, and not just June. 

My Identity: An Intersectional Look

Recently, I’ve been thinking about intersectionality. In summary, this is a branch of feminism which takes into account ones overlapping identities and aspects of , social and politicadiscrimination and how it relates to gender identity – and most interestingly, the term was coined by the black feminist scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in 1989. Now, I’ve already written about  identity scholar labels before, but I want to take a closer look at how this affects how I view my oppression – though I am NOT trying to play the ‘oppression olympics, I’m trying to share my experiences of how I experience oppression. 

How I identify (in a political sense, not overall): 

  • White: which means that I can’t experience racism, unlike my black and other ethnic minority counterparts. However, it also means that I can use my white privilege to lift up voices of black and ethnic members of the LGBTQ+ community, which will allow their experiences / stories to be heard. 
  • Able-bodied: which means I can’t experience ableism based on my physical limitations, unlike people who are physically disabled. Again, I can use my able bodied privilege to lift up physically disabled members of the LGBTQ+ community. 
  • Middle Class: this means that my family is pretty well off, and it also means that I can afford to buy myself a chest binder, which helps me to alleviate some of my chest dysphoria.  It also means that I have to be aware that not every trans person that wants to bind can afford to, as chest binders are quite expensive. 
  • A young person: this means that I will gain a lot of what the media shows of nonbinary people, as it likes to paint certain topics with one colour. This means that I will have to raise the voices of perhaps older trans and nonbinary people, as a good majority of nonbinary individuals are young people. 
  •  Non-binary (masculine): combined with my able body and white skin colour, I experience privilege with being nonbinary because I am white, masculine, and able bodied. I am also AFAB (assigned female at birth), which means, from my perspective, I get a majority of the nonbinary representation – this is an obvious problem, because, for example, black nonbinary and femme nonbinary people exist (as well as black fem nonbinary people).  However, I can also experience discrimination based on my gender identity because I can fall victim to binarism and erasure. 
  • And Bisexual: due to my sexuality, I may also be discriminated against because I can experience bipbobia (be it subtle or not). But I’m also nonbinary, which means that I am twice as likely to experience both bi and nonbinary erasure, be it from within the community or not. 

I’m not really sure where this’ll lead, but it’s something that I have been thinking about from time to time quite recently, as it is important to understand not only ourselves, but where we fit into the world – which means acknowledging certain advantages and disadvantages that we have. I know this wasn’t super analytical, but I just wanted to get some of these thoughts down. 

 

Why You Should put Your Pronouns in Your Social Media Bios / Name Handle

Social media bios (e.g. what we choose to put in our Instagram or Twitter) – we all have the power to choose what to put, as this will give our followers a vague idea of what type of person we are (though this is also factored in by what we, for example, choose to retweet or post on our Instagram page). It’s not hard now a days to stumble across a social media profile and  can  instantly see some aspects of the owners (carefully curated) online personality and identity. For example, I choose to retweet a lot of LGBTQ+ related stuff because thats something I’m passionate about – so someone may guess that I’m very passionate about the LGBTQ+ community. 

But I’m getting sidetracked (as a media student and lover of the concept of identity, I could probably go on for ages about how people use social media to construct their identity, as well as identity and labels as a whole). Today I wanted to write about people, regardless of gender identity – putting their preferred gender pronouns in either their bios or, like I have, in their name handle. Before I get started, I have written a guide for cisgender people on how to be a good trans ally, which you can read here– so if you would like to go a step further, which I highly recommend you do, then please take the time to read it. I would also urge you to read my guide on how to use someones pronouns, for some extra added context surrounding pronouns.  

Now, what’s the point of using someones preferred pronouns? Well, firstly, then you know how to properly address them. The act of misgendering someone means that you are not using the pronouns that they have told you (for example, if someone were to use ‘she/her’ pronouns for me instead of ‘they/them’ pronouns, that would be misgendering). This can obviously make social interactions very stressful, and if happens over a period of time, can lead to gender dysphoria (specifically a sense of social dysphoria). 

Additionally, though it may be awkward to put your pronouns in your social media bio or name handle (afterall, you did spend a LOT of time carefully constructing your social media and internet identity and personality) – it normalises the process if its done enough. It also lessens the marginalisation of trans people. 

Though it’s a small, inconsequential action, it can have a big impact. Though it isn’t the same as showing up for trans people in the streets, fighting for LGBTQ+ rights, it is a nice gesture and I would even say it’s a nice start if you are thinking of getting into LGBTQ+ activism. 

My 3 Important Reasons For LGBTQ+ Positivity & How YOU can Support this Blog

All to often, the LGBTQ+ community is faced with discrimination – for example, not being able to marry / adopt in certain places or being fired for being who they are. But I wanted to write something a bit more positive, as being a part of this community does have its upsides. Whilst I understand that issues like these are important and deserve to be talked about, I also understand that sometimes, we just need some positivity. 

Firstly, I just wanted to say that I’ve met some AMAZING people since I’ve come out of the closet, and I would proudly call these people my friends (despite the fact that my brain tells me that they don’t actually like me, but that’s besides the point). Anyway, the friends I’ve made are great, and I highly doubt I would of made them if I had not discovered my sexuality and gender identity – and to all the amazing friends that I’ve met over the last couple of years, you know who you are. 

Secondly, it is fun to sometimes discuss all the weird stuff – you know- cishet people do (e.g. gendering stuff unecessarly). This is fun because we get to poke fun at the cishet normative world that we live in – and while I don’t think that we should demolish gender entirely, because there’s nothing wrong with being whatever gender you identify with (be it cis, trans etc), it is something that is fun to poke fun at, like I mentioned earlier. 

Thirdly, being a part of the LGBTQ+ community has recently given me a new look on life – in a political sense, I’m starting to acknowledge, or at least realise, all the privileges I have (for example, I’m white  – meaning that I will never have to experience racism, because racism only happens to black people, as well as those who are in other minority ethnic groups). Whilst these realisations have been a bit uncomfortable, I feel as though I want to help those within the LGBTQ+ community who perhaps don’t have the same luxuries as I do. I could perhaps write about this one day, as I do find intersectionality an interesting concept – but I wanna do a seperate, more in depth look at it, so it will most likely be its own, separate post. 

Finally, I’ve *finally* decided to start making a bit of money from it. You can now support ‘Dear Biary’ on Ko-fi, and hopefully PayPal (providing that I can get my phone fixed…) – anyway, here’s the link to my kofi account, and you can support me from £3! (Check it out here: my kofi account!) It would mean a lot if you could help support me as I consider myself a small LGBTQ+ creator, plus I intend to maybe start making YouTube videos at some point? (not about LGBTQ+ topics mind you, but I’m a media student so I’m guessing it could help improve my video editing skills). Though I do understand that you may not be in a position to financially support me, so even if you just share / retweet this, that would also be fine. 

I wanted to set this up because it’s honestly something that I’ve been thinking about doing for a while now, so if you can support me, it would be great,  as it would mean that I can continue doing what I love, which is making this blog. 

Mental Health, Body Image & Me: A General & Nonbinary Perspective

This week, I have been feeling lots of ‘negative’ emotions (stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, useless, and worthless) – because the little voice in my head has suddenly gotten louder to the point where I feel alone and don’t know where to turn to. Normally, I can brush this voice off and continue and appear my normal self – happy, positive, confident and fun. But since Monday this week, I haven’t been feeling my usual self – both in terms of my mental health and body image (relating to how I view both my gender identity and expression, as well as my overall sense of how I identify on the gender spectrum). 

Let’s start with mental health. Lately, I have been feeling the negative emotions because I’m going to start my foundation year at University s (the course I’m studying is Media Culture and Communication (with a Foundation Year) this September – and whilst I’ve got a good chunk of what I need for studying, I still need to buy all the stuff I need for my accommodation, as well as few bits and bobs. Which will cost a lot of money. 

This leads me to my second reason for feeling this way – I’m unemployed, and while I’m searching for work, all of my job applications have either been declined, or I haven’t even gotten a response from them.  Thus, I have been feeling a sense of worthlessness and guilt for not working. 

Secondly, I’ve allowed the voice in my head to override my normally positive demeanor. Like I mentioned at the beginning, this is something I can normally brush off, but now it feels like I can’t- I’m being constantly told that all my friends actually hate me, and that I’m actually a horrible / terrible friend and overall person. I’m also finding it hard to believe all these positive affirmations from my friends (both online and in real life), because my brain keeps telling me that they don’t mean it, and that I’m actually an attention seeking person who is a burden to everyone. 

Moving forward, I want to talk about my body image, though I’ve already disclosed what makes me dysphoric here. But it has not been until this week that I’ve really been feeling negative feelings of guilt, shame, and overall anxiousness surrounding my gender identity and expression. This is because the media likes to paint AFAB nonbinary in one colour – tall, vaguely masculine, white, skinny, able bodied etc. This has a negative effect overall because it erases all the different ways that one can identify outside the gender binary (e.g. the intersections of being black and nonbinary, or a poor nonbinary person).  

So in terms of how this has affected my mental health, I feel guilty about identifying as a stereotypical nonbinary person to some degree – I’m white, AFAB, abled bodied and I consider myself to be somewhat masculine in my gender expression. But – I don’t see myself as being skinny. See, I’ve always been pretty neutral surrounding my body image, but I’ve only really been struggling since I came out as nonbinary in late August 2018. Though this feeling of not 100% fitting the nonbinary look has only really taken shape in a negative way recently (i.e. this week). Now, to get a bit serious, I have scratched parts of my body that I deem ‘unattractive’ (e.g. my tummy, thighs, hips, and arms for convenience). It’s because I don’t see myself as ‘skinny enough’ to be considered nonbinary, and I wish that I could feel somewhat body positive again. I also wish I could feel a sense of what gender euphoria feels like. Though  has helped a lot with my chest dysphoria, I still feel as though I am playing into this stereotype of what an AFAB nonbinary person should look like. 

In addition, I feel as though I’m not doing enough for the LGBTQ+ community. All across social media, I sometimes see articles about all the amazing work LGBTQ+ activists do, and feel worthless because I’m not doing the same level of work as they are – I just write stuff about LGBTQ+ topics sometimes surrounding my own experiences. I don’t feel like I’m doing enough for a community that I care so much about, and this little voice keeps reminding me of that. 

Overall, I feel lost, hopeless and that I’ll never feel like my normal self again. Nothing in particular has caused this, it’s just how I’m feeling at the moment and I hate it. I want to talk to friends and not feel like the only reason they’re being nice to me is because I’m there, and therefore it is convenient. I want to feel a sense of pride in my enby identity, and I can’t do that if the voice in my head keeps telling me that I’m a stereotype thats invalidating and taking up space for other nonbinary individuals. 

But most of all, I just want to feel like my normal self again. 

The Return of They / Them Pronouns & Normalising Gender Exploration

Since the 19th December 2018, I have been using he / they pronouns as a way of expressing my, at the time, identity as a transmasculine nonbinary person. But as of late May 2019, I have felt as though this no longer feels right – so I will be going back to using the singular pronouns they / them / theirs. 

I also wanted to write this because I wanted to look back at how far I’ve come in terms of my gender identity – since, so far, I’ve gone from being a cisgender female, to a demigirl, to a transmasculine enby, to a nonbinary person. Honestly I’m proud of how far I’ve come in terms of gender (despite all the hardships us enby folk face), and I could not be happier with all the support from friends that I’ve received, both online and in real life. 

Additionally, I just wanted to say that there is no wrong way to explore your gender – even if you end up identifying as a cisgender man / woman, the fact that you took the time to question this stuff is extremely brave, especially since cisnormativity is so ingrained into us as  from before we are even born. 

It also creates an unnecessary gender binary, both complete with rigid gender roles and expectations – which is why I think being trans is such an interesting experience – because, for example, binary trans people get to experience both ends of the gender spectrum (e.g. trans men will gain male privilege whilst trans women will lose it). However, I do understand that intersectionality plays a crucial role in one’s life, so you have to take that into consideration (e.g. the expected life span of a black, trans woman is statically 35 years.

But I do feel as though we need to allow people to explore and question their identity without the criticism of others – with all the dull discourse surrounding who and who isn’t ‘trans enough’, it honestly makes me less optimistic about the future of the trans community – we need to come together, especially at a time where we are constantly having our rights questioned and debated. It’s also crucial that we have supportive, genuine allies who will speak on our behalf when  we feel we are not able to. 

Basically, we need to come together and raise each other up – not put each other down. 

My Pride Plans 2019

Pride Month is my favourite time of the year – it’s the time where we should be proud of our identities.  So I wanted to take the time to write about what I plan to do during this fabulous season. But before reading this, you should check out my post about  what to bring to pride, if you intend on going to any Pride Parades this year. 

I kicked off pride month by performing with my choir, Sing Out Bristol which was honestly a blast and I’m so glad that the audience enjoyed it. We then went to Queenshilling – Bristols Award Winning LGBT+ Nightclub (which was a first for me because I’ve never been clubbing, let alone an LGBTQ+ friendly one with gender neutral toilet). It was also my first big concert with them. 

In terms of Pride parades, I’m going to Bristol Pride, after having a pre Bristol pride BBQ and potential sleepover with some of my friends who are in the community. I ‘m also going to Trans Pride Brighton & Hove (again, this will be a first because I didn’t know I was trans until late August 2018). I also intend to go Pride in London and  to and possibly stay with a friend overnight. Though I do understand that there is a lot of discourse surrounding whether or not pride is a protest or a party, but I think that we can’t have one without the other. 

Obviously I also intend to support LGBTQ+ creators etc if I can, as you can read my thought on Rainbow Capitalism here. I also intend to be visibly queer as I can , because that is the most radical act an LGBTQ+ person can do (but obviously don’t feel pressured to come out – you can also read my coming out story here.)

So happy pride month everyone! Remember that your identities are completely 100% valid, and that Im proud of you! 

I had a Dream that I had Top Surgery

Yesterday night, I had a dream that I somehow managed to raise enough money to afford top surgery. It was weird because I’m unsure if this is something I want or  desire – especially since I have dysphoria surrounding my chest.

I don’t know if this is a sign (for better words) that I actually want top surgery or not – but nonetheless, it was a weird dream. But maybe it’s my subconscious telling me that I actually want surgery, which will allow me to fulfill all the stuff on my post op bucket list. But I don’t know, I just wanted to put this out there, because it is something that has oddly stuck with me. 

Not a Woman. But not quite a Man.

As you may or not be aware – I identify as a transmasculine nonbinary person. In a nutshell, this means that I don’t identify as female or female, but I do identify as being a bit more masculine. But if not – then hi! My name is Casey, and my current pronouns are he / they, and I would like you to try and use them interchangeably – but I wouldn’t mind if you used one over the other. 

I don’t identify as being a woman at all – so terms like ‘girl’, daughter’ cause me a bit of social dysphoria, as they say that I am a woman, when I am not. Though I think I feel more comfortable and euphoric with more masculine terms like ‘handsome’ and ‘dapper’ – but not quite with the terms ‘boy’ or ‘man’, because they feel to binary. But at the same time, I do like the term ‘boyish’, because it implies that I’m more masculine, but I’m not a binary boy / man. In addition, I prefer ‘partner’ over ‘boyfriend’ because, again, the term boyfriend feels to binary for my liking – as I would like some room for my non-binaryness to feel valid. I guess I would like the term ‘partner’, but that’s simply because I don’t know any other terms. 

In terms of gender expression, I like to wear more masculine clothing, simply because it makes me feel more validated in my gender identity, and this results in a). more gender euphoria, and b). a better understanding of how I understand my gender. Furthermore, as of the 22nd of March 2019, I have been binding my chest once a week, and this has definitely given me a boost in confidence in my appearance. 

So yeah, I’m not a woman, but I’m not quite a man. I feel as though I am more masculine than feminine, and that’s why I like the term transmasculine so much – I like it because I can use it alongside nonbinary, as both terms can coincide, as well as be used seperately.  I don’t know where this is going, so I’ll stop. 

But please remember that you are valid no matter where you fall on the gender spectrum. 

The Power of Presentation

There is a difference between gender identity and gender expression. Gender identity is how someone chooses to identify their gender, whilst gender expression is how they choose to express it. For example, I am nonbinary (this is my gender identity), and I choose to present in a more masculine way (and this is my gender expression). I wanted to write this because all to often equate gender identity with gender expression, and this isn’t true – you can express your gender however you want. 

This means that I feel more comfortable wearing typically more masculine clothing – such as button ups or jeans. Despite this, I am still a transmasculine nonbinary person if I choose to wear a dress or skirt, and my pronouns are still currently he / they. This is because gender identity = gender expression. 

This doesn’t just apply to trans and nonbinary people – but also to cisgender people (those whose gender identity matches their biological sex). You can still be a cisgender man and wear a dress, and vise versa. But I want to focus on trans and nonbinary individuals because to some extent, we are held to higher standards. Trans men are expected to hypermasculine, trans women are expected to to hyper feminine, and nonbinary folks are expected to be androgynous 100% of the time.  But this isn’t true, for  a number of factors. More serious factors include safety or fear of rejection, while less serious factors may be due to choice or convenience. But no matter what your situation, I want you to know that no matter how you express your gender, it valid – you are not harming anyone. 

Now I do understand that gender expression, to some extent, equate to your gender identity. This is because typically gendered clothes may give you more euphoria than dysphoria, and thats also valid. I can 100% understand why someone would want to dress in a binary way – it may validate them more, meaning that they will have a more confirmed sense of their gender identity. And that’s OK. I just wanted to say that there is no wrong way to present your gender, and no to people will present their gender the same. 

How you present your gender is your choice, and no one can take that away from you.