in honor of mon.11.oct – nat’l/internat’l coming out day

Why Queer?

Why Use They-Them-Their as Non-gendered Singular Pronouns?

Why Come Out?

Interesting queries have come my way, as to why I prefer they, them, and their as gender neutral pronouns, and what exactly I am!? What do I mean I dis-identify as gendered?

A tree is not a tree, we just call it that.

My graduate school colleagues have affectionately embraced my nickname, Elliott-not-Elliott. The understanding has happened here that I appear and that I am. The study is deepening here, in that I am not what I appear to be; that I am both more and less than “I”. You know this to be true for you too – deep inside-outside any self-limiting dualistic concepts.

It appears that the non-duality “I” experience truly crashes all walls around this little self. My most potent moments of presence-of-being have ended first with incredible freeing thought/feelings of, “Oh! There really is no gender or sex here! I am free.” This gamble in duality has been striking the forebrain of my existence most loudly and strongly, contrasted to any other of the myriad dualities we breathe.

A word that has landed somewhat comfortably for the past six years or so is “queer”. This word wove into my mindbody intricately as my approximate thirteen year journey in the sexually queer community transformed into the reality of my journey as a gender queer person. Hey, person has been challenging enough for me to admit and cling to at times in this life!

Recently, a Queer Yoga Collective friend named our intent to offer space where to be queer is the ‘norm’ (for lack of a better word!). After a now seventeen year journey into the wilds and norming of queerdom, I was struck dumb. That sounded so radical – to even conceive that queer space could actually allow the feeling that I am normal.

A memory flashed through me. The worst drama I ever cooked up with my elder sibling was about their use of the word queer in reference to something our parent had done out-of-character. I went silent in the long-distance phone call. I emailed later that they might not want to use the term that way. Ehem. They had just used the word according to good ‘ol plain speak English language. I’m using my preferred gender neutral pronoun here for my sibling.

I realize only now, five years later, that I was feeling extra sensitive about that newly claimed self-identifier. I was indeed also experiencing queer community wherein I felt so utterly included and accepted, like I had never imagined possible before. Emerging into my trans-identity was more emotional and less cerebral, at that tender time. It is a shame that that bit of getting closer to self-acceptance wreaked deep havoc with my ever-loving sibling, as if I had to push away even more from the family-of-origin to figure myself out – sad and so familiar to us queer people.

And so familiar to us all, trying to figure self out, and accept and love self, and to tease self out from family-of-origin heaps of cloaking around our very skins and breaths. Here is where “queer” works for me on another level. We all struggle to uncover who we are. Many of the sorrows adolescents, or us life-long-evolving adults feel are so painstakingly common among us. In this light, I simply and completely recommend Kenji Yoshino’s book Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights. This book tears down the disparate desperate walls separating any of us under labels, cloaks and heaps of identity based in fear.

Every single one of us covers aspects of our one-time precious sacred self: unique and/or contemplative dietary practices, kinship with people so different from us, abuses we’ve internalized, faith communities we abide in, abortions we’ve chosen with self-love, and on and on. We even expend energy to cover aspects that can never be covered. Many of us often adorn ourselves in effort to cloak our real or perceived race, class and/or gender.  Covering pulls the rug out from under “equal” rights, in support of the vital need to fight for our human right to flourish! Yoshino makes a loving call for human flourishing rather than equal rights. Read the book. It’s chilling and beautiful.

Despite my own dis-identifying, I fabulously and hilariously fumble towards naming and claiming roles in my life and experiences alongside the best of us. I mindlessly seek out any ground to stand on, to understand what to do, and how to be with myself in the queer collective household I now reside in – as we co-house-mates try to creatively care for our beloved patch of earth, the home atop it, the young child pitter pattering and singing through the very walls. I have witnessed myself approach a housemate and inquire what exactly their vision is for my part in the whole constellation. I tried a couple of times in the early days of landing here this just past summer. I tried to needle in sideways to these conversations, grasping for clarity, solidity, anything to hold onto and comprehend with a sigh, and say, “Oh. OK. I can do/be that.”

This particular housemate-not-housemate so gracefully and patiently reflected that there is no need to name what we are to and for each other. We can just be this and do this, and let it evolve organically; being vulnerable, open, and free to and from the challenges that any life offers. This is a queer family indeed. I feel so happy and scared to embark on this co-creative journey. I would rather this uncloaked humanity, than my patterned self-isolation.

The evolution of humans and our conceptual language is expressing our multifarious selves as living breathing art forms. The form, of the embodied self, with self-awareness is co-creating reality. We are reemerging through our very essential nature or impulses, being the paradox using names/labels/identities and knowing/sensing that we are not-that. We are both more than the words and less than all this complication. We are certainly both more than over-simplified duality and binary thinking-in-things, and we are less than that – we are one. We are at once expanding and condensing suchness of phenomenon, limited and amplified through our egobodymindmechanisms.

Coming out now, is an irony and an imperative – ironic because it names/labels/identifies a seeming “I”, and imperative because people are still killing themselves over internal struggles in this exquisitely painful self-identifying journey. Those of us whose self-actualizing journey rubs up against any conditioning or learning from our families/community/society must create new labels and thus new realities! If the journey is rough enough, and completely void of any reflection from loving and peaceful trail blazers/gone-befores/role models, transgender people will continue to emerge from and to a fractured sense of self. We all tend to internalize or externalize our experiences of oppression and ecstasy. When it is the body form/identity itself (what else could it be for any of us really?) we tend to embody and deepen our connection to self, or disembody further, dangerously separating the sense of mind from that of body.

I come out to you as gender-queer or transgender or gender-variant, if that is easier to understand. My experience is not gendered. They, them, and their are common to our lexicon and do have a precedent for being used as singular gender neutral pronouns. There are many people experimenting with new gender neutral pronouns. I have found them difficult to taste and fill my mouth with. I ask that you refer to me with they, them, and their – at least until we co-evolve our reality and naming to better reflect the ineffable spectrum of gender experience.

To unpack our wardrobes strapped to our backs full of gender binary presumptions is trick-and-treat business. The “LGBT” community and acronym both are confounded by the burgeoning nature of gender queer people. I can only imagine how the evolution of our species’ mind and language impacts us all. During this paradigm shift, while the transgender chrysalis is breaking free from the cocoon, we are most vulnerable. As the co-creative animals that we are, every single transgender suicide is a necrotic fiber in our common weft, our one heart beating.

I am open to discussing these nascent ideas with any person, class, meeting, group, congregation, staff, whathaveyha! There are some awesome resources for how to engage in dialogue with even elementary students centered around transgender compassion and understanding. Please contact me for any further queries, thoughts, book recommendations, and/or co-creative ideas!

If it safe for you to do so, I wildly encourage you to come out as queer or as an ally! Let the coming generations know we are here – vulnerable, loving, compassionate, understanding, and here!

ever love and peace,

elliott

Check out:

Queer Theory

Jane Austen and others violating English class

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2 Responses to “in honor of mon.11.oct – nat’l/internat’l coming out day”

  1. Your Dad Says:

    I Love YOU!!! Period – end of discussion!! Dad

  2. look, ma! no self « embodhiment Says:

    […] do disidentify as noted a few entries back and in the […]

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