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Trans Ally

Earlier this year, my sibling shared publicly that they were enby. I admit, I never heard the term before, so I did what most writers do. I researched it. As the days progressed, my sibling posted photos of themselves with tags like #enby, #mensdepartment, and #womensdepartment. The waters were muddied, and I did not know how to tackle this subject.

I believed myself to be a trans-ally, but I was confused. What was enby?

I stayed quiet for two weeks as I tried to grapple with the meaning of it all. Ultimately, it took my sibling reaching out to talk to me. I sheepishly told them I was exploring the internet to understand what it meant. They explained not to search the internet for answers. There’s nothing wrong with asking them directly what it means for them, because as I would later realize…

It means different things for different people.

A quick Google search will tell you enby means non-binary (it comes from the letters NB). Non-binary equates to identifying as neither male nor female. Here’s a list of nonbinary identities, which isn’t definitive, but handy for helping define the genders. Enbies may not know what their exact identification is, early on. There is still so much to learn about the spectrum that is gender identity.

Many people will say that there is no such thing as non-binary. You either have male or female parts and that defines your gender, and some heteros and LGB persons may vehemently attest that transgender people are an abomination. From a physical standpoint, there are intersex people with both reproductive parts, and while it isn’t the norm, it does occur. So why should it be any different for the metaphysical?

Many indigenous peoples believed in more than two genders.

My family is from the Choctaw Nation, a tribe which defined up to seven genders. The idea of two genders comes from Western sensibilities, and over time, the acceptance of multi-genders diminished in the name of “progress”.
It’s time to accept that there are certain things we may not understand but should be willing to embrace. As a cisgendered white-appearing female in a heterosexual relationship, I will never completely understand, but I can be an ally for fair treatment and equal rights for transgender persons.

The enby journey is tough, and society is a large part of that.

They are often mistreated, misjudged, or simply ignored. In the state of Texas where my sibling lives, they do not accept more than the binary genders, so when they changed their name to reflect their gender, they could not change their gender.

But more than that, you can’t walk into a mall without seeing genders in stores, departments, and bathrooms. There are assigned pronouns (like with cars, for crying out loud), and the list goes on. Babies are gendered before they are even born. He and she is embedded in us before we know how to talk, and people are angered if another person misclassifies their child. So…

It’s natural that one of the biggest ways to show yourself as an ally is to reprogram the way you talk about people.

You may have noticed that since the start of this piece, I have not used binary pronouns, especially to describe my sibling. Until this point, you have had to accept that I have a sibling and that they are non-binary. In writing, it’s easy to correct the occasional foible, but when I’m talking about my sibling in a casual setting, old habits really do die hard. It has been my biggest learning curve thus far, and I continue to work on it.

It’s okay to make mistakes, though, and to own them, but for trans persons, you do not have to make a big deal about it when you do. They accept that this will happen. It’s hard to reprogram something you didn’t even realize was programmed in you.

So if you take anything away from my piece today, please let it be this: if you have a transgender person in your life, embrace the newfound freedom that comes from accepting something they have probably known for years. Support them and show it through the power of your words. But most of all. Don’t research the internet to find answers only they can provide. Simply ask them what it means for them.
Trust me, they want you to know.

This piece has been written with input from my sibling and faer permission to publish.

This piece has also been edited from its original form to remove words which have been deemed problematic. This list from GLAAD was sent to me by another trans ally following this publication. Thanks for bringing it to my attention and giving me a valuable resource!

(image source)

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The First

CW: sex
TW: sexual trauma (warning also pertains to any links within)

It hurts. A lot. Just like Momma told me.

He stops and gives me a kiss. A tiny stream trickles from the corner of my eye. I can’t quite tell if I’m happy or scared.

I have come a long way, though. Six years before, it grossed me out. It was this dirty, vile thing. I couldn’t even bring myself to take those pink, blue, and white pills for my acne. I didn’t want others to assume I was “active.” Three years before, the notion of sex disgusted me. You’re supposed to wait until you’re married to do it and even then only out of necessity – to keep your husband happy.

It took a good friend, a book on sexual trauma, and days of therapeutic discussion to overcome some of my own traumas. Of them, there were many.

For now, I try to ignore Mom’s voice in my head. All their voices – the pastor and my teachers and that counselor that showed grotesque images of sexually transmitted diseases on a giant screen in our high school auditorium. I am past all of that. I am clear of their programming.

Nevertheless, it feels peculiar. Nothing at all like I expected. Admittedly, I didn’t know what to expect.

I flinch and bite my lip as he goes all the way in.

“Are you okay?” he asks.

He is trying to be gentle. He knows, and somehow, that didn’t scare him away as I thought it might. How often do you hear of a 25-year-old virgin, after all?

I swallow. “Ca-can-can we stop?” I ask.

“Of course,” he replies with no hint of disappointment or dissatisfaction.

He pulls out and lays down beside me. His hand grabs mine, and he squeezes.

“I’m sorry,” I utter in a meek tone.

“Stop that. You have nothing to be sorry about,” he says.

I turn over and lay my arm across his chest.

“Thank you,” I say, surprised and grateful.

His chest is damp from my tears, and this time I know the emotion for sure – it’s happiness.

Two days later, I overcome my fears, all those years of programming, and accept sex as a natural thing between two people. (Though, maybe still a little dirty.)


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Unemployed

“How’d it go?” he asked me.

Before I was down the street, I had called my husband, stopping to strip off my blazer with my briefcase tucked between my legs. The Friday afternoon sun bore down on me, slowly melting the makeup on my face.

“Really well!” I told him, excited. “…Of course, that probably means I didn’t get the job.”

He let out a mirthless laugh.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” I said. “It’s so perfect for me. Honestly, it hasn’t even been two weeks since my retrenchment.”

He paused. Only three days before he had been the symbol of strength, telling me to leave the money worries behind and focus on me.

“So tell me all about it,” he finally said.

Monday morning at 8am, I received the call. “How’d you think you went?” the recruiter asked.

I knew from the question I had won the position.

I was right.

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New Year Adventure

2019 started with an early morning dog walk. It was midway through the walk when I received a call from hubby that he was trying to catch a dog that was running across the streets where he was walking our other dog.

I raced home to get the car, grab the keys, put my girl (dog) in the backyard, and took a lead. The dog was not collared, hubby had said, and I was willing to bet not microchipped either.

I found hubby on the corner of a main road with our boy sitting very patiently and the stray wagging her tail in hubby’s arms. She was a beautiful, young, red Kelpie with sagging teats. It took us both to put her into the car and strap her in safely.

At 6:30 in the morning, there weren’t many options available to us. I tried calling the RSPCA, but after 30min, I was still on hold. Meanwhile we brought her to our house where she terrorized our cats and was too scared to play with our big dogs. We couldn’t keep her, but it was also a public holiday and likely not much would be open.

Hubby called a local vet at 7am when they opened, who said they could take her if she was microchipped only. I finally got onto the RSPCA who told me that they didn’t take lost dogs, but they did put us on file as having found her in case the owners called. The Pound wasn’t open on public holidays, but they had metal drop boxes for lost dogs that were checked periodically through the day.

We took her to the vet first. But we were right. No microchip in her. So they told us to take her to the drop boxes or keep her until the owner called the RSPCA.

By this point, I’m so sad for the little girl; it seemed no one wanted her. She was a gorgeous dog with a big smile and constantly wagging upright tail. I swear she was still a puppy, but she wasn’t trained at all. I was pretty certain she was just used to be bred. So a giant part of me just wanted to rescue her from the made-up life I had created in my head.

We drove over to the drop boxes that both the vet and RSPCA told us about, and I was instantly in tears. These metal boxes had very little light in them, were small and cramped, with no water in them. They looked so inhumane. We were lucky that another lady was there before we arrived, and had blocked the entrance in hopes of catching one of the after hours employees as they tried to come into work. And it worked, just as we arrived.

We didn’t have to put the little darling into that horrible box, and we were able to see her be taken straight into the kennels. We left, both sad for her but happy we had hopefully saved a life on New Year’s Day.

Two hours later, the RSPCA called me. The owner was looking for a dog fitting my description.

Embarrassing

I sat in the rear of the auditorium with my parents. I graduated earlier that year and yet here I was back at my old high school. I was only here for my brother and sister. I wasn’t one of “those kids” that couldn’t leave my high school behind me.

It was a long two-hour show. The sopranos were quiet compared to the powerhouses of the last year, myself not included, but the tenors had been amazing. At the end, I knew what happened next. Every Christmas, the Paris High School Concert Choir sang “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah, and every year, the music director invited alumni to join in the song, on-stage.

I am not one of “those kids.”

I sat and watched as a handful of people walked onto the stage. “Losers,” I whispered.

The music director said it again. Is she trying to coax me onto the stage?

Nope. I’m not doing it. Can’t make me.

I stared at my sister in the alto section. Her eyes looked focused on me.

“Don’t do it, Mel.” “Do it.”

Do you really want me up there with you? 

“No. Yes. No. Yes.” I couldn’t tell what she wanted.

A final call came out, and Dad patted my shoulder. “Go on, Mel.”

Ugh. Fine.

It’s a long, agonizing walk to the stage. I’m holding everyone up now. 

I tried a casual jog. I reached the stairs and took one. Hurry up! 

I lift my foot to the next and tripped.

My knees and palms dropped onto the hard cedar steps. Ow!

Laughter erupts in the auditorium and on-stage. Jeezus, everyone’s laughing at me! I found out later that I exaggerated it in my head, but boos are louder than cheers.

Can’t back out now. I swore, bit the corner of my lip, and rose with a groan. I took the rest of the stairs at a deliberate pace.

I stood at the end of the sopranos with my heart in my throat. I swallowed, trying to regain my composure, and declined the sheet music. I gave the music director a half-smile and a nod when she asked if I was okay. She lifted her hands, and the music began. Soft, be soft. You have nothing to prove.

We sang the song. I had to admit I enjoyed it, but I also was never, ever, going to do that again. I left the stage, sure I dropped my pride on those steps.

On the ride home, Dad admitted, “You sang louder than everyone else.”

“Great,” I said with a blush. Of course I did.