The Gender Spectrum
Written by: Samantha Foust on December 5, 2017
It’s a complicated thing to come out as genderfluid to your professional network; to be male-bodied and prefer her / she pronouns but have no intention of getting surgery or taking hormones; to wear makeup and change your name to Samantha, or Sam for short.
I’m talking about me. Actually that wasn’t so hard. LinkedIn lets you just change your name, Twitter and Instagram too. It’s becoming safer to be who you are. Now’s your chance to go by Seymore Butts.
Right, professional network. It actually has been deeply challenging to come out. I’m very fortunate to only be working with social entrepreneurs, co-ops, and nonprofits. Those groups tend to get it. I’m lucky to live in a time where gender identity is a growing topic, and so thankful to the trailblazers that fought for trans rights, so that I am able to feel much more safe in public and more comfortable to be who I am.
A GLAAD survey from 2017, that’s an acronym, I wasn’t screaming a misspelled word at you, though it does make me feel GLAD, found that 12% of Millennials identify as transgender or gender nonconforming, twice the number of transgender / gender nonconforming individuals reported by Gen Xers. Considering gender identity isn’t a choice, I see this generational change as people being more aware of who they are, from seeing it modeled in others and having a culture that talks about gender in less strict and more loving ways.
It’s a beautiful thing to know that being who you are inspires others to be more authentically them, to empower people to discover more about themselves. That is true no matter your identity. It’s not an easy thing to express your identity when that identity is part of a marginalized and attacked population. It’s been very inhibiting for me to be out and to have people hate me just for being. I of course speak from a place of absurd privilege — white able male-bodied from a typical middle class American family pretending to be cisgender and straight growing up.
Hate isn’t an identity, it’s misdirected self-preservation. Who I am threatens some people and these are divisive times, but they are also the most progressive in our history. The struggle for equality will always be met with fear and entrenched systems of power, it is up to all of us to take care of each other, and to find ways to bridge the gaps between those who are different from us.
Being out has been a deeply freeing experience, I fundamentally feel more self-worth, I feel more secure and more free. For those of you not out, for whatever it is you hold in, know that you are loved. Don’t rush it — explore it and practice self-care. Reach out, or do whatever feels right for you, whenever it feels right.
When you brush up against your inner critic, against those supporting bathroom bills, against anger and fear, I hope you find the strength inside to know that who you are is beautiful, that who you are is enough. And when you forget, know that there are people in this world who will always see the beauty in you, and who will always love you unconditionally.