2016: A Year In Memoriam

What can I say?

There were bad moments…

A lot of them…

There were deaths

Other than yours

And history was made

In what many feel is the wrong direction.


There were also amazing moments:

Wonderful connections were made,

Beautiful people came into the world,

And people came together

In the name of hope.


I’m sorry to see you go,

But I’m even more sorry

That people are excited to see you off.

I will remember you.

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Mental Health?

This week for Terminology Tuesday, I wanted to take a moment to talk about mental health.

Before I continue this post, I think it is important to note that I am by no means a mental health professional.

This semester, one of my professors told me that we’re the only ones who have to live inside our heads, so we may as well make our heads a nice place to live.  This is, I feel, a good way to explain mental health.  It’s the home we create for ourselves in our heads.

Mental health is, more officially, the state of well-being each individual experiences.  This state exists on a fluid spectrum, just as gender identity, sexual orientation, and romantic orientation do, because not every person is going to have the same mental health, and the state of one’s mental health is able to change.  Some resources explaining what mental health is in more depth can be found below (these are by no means the only resources):

So what’s so important about mental health?  I mean, it’s not a big deal, right?

Actually, it is.  Mental health is something we all have, and it plays a role in all of our every day lives.  Whether it be stress, a diagnosed mental illness, or anything else, there are a number of things which have an effect on our states of well-being.  When this effect is negative, the outcomes are, unsurprisingly, negative on our beings, both physically and mentally.  Some of the negative outcomes are feeling little to no energy, having difficulty with daily tasks, feeling hopeless, feeling like you want to hurt yourself or others, and a number of others (these and more are listed in the US HHS resource).

However, as I said, mental health exists on a fluid spectrum, and therefore can change.  So, if you’re experiencing any of these things, or a combination of them, there are things you can do which may help to alleviate these feelings.  Some of the things you can do are make sure you are getting an appropriate amount of sleep, exercise regularly, set an attainable goal, talk it out or express your feelings in another form (such as through writing), and many others (these and more are listed in the WA resource).

It’s important to remember, if you’re feeling any of these more negative things that you are not alone.  There are others who experience these feelings, and there are so many people out there who can and will help you as best as they can.  Aside from seeing a professional, you absolutely have the ability to (if you are still in school) talk to a trusted teacher, counselor, or friend.  There are also support groups, both online and offline.  One online resource is TSWatch, a Tumblr group dedicated to helping those who are struggling.  They also have a great list of other online resources.

You deserve to smile; to be happy; to live.

Stay strong.  We’re all in this together, and you are always welcome to talk to us.  Remember: you are not alone.

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It’s Not Too Late

There is a lot of fear right now.  This is something we cannot deny.

A lot of this fear stems from the fact that Donald Trump is currently President-Elect of the United States.  This is something we cannot deny.

But it isn’t over.  There is still a chance for Hillary Clinton.  Granted, it might be a slim chance, but a chance is a chance and we should do what we can.

So what can we do?

I’m glad you asked.

We all have a voice.  And though it might not feel it all the time, our voices can be heard.  We can contact our electors.  The members of the electoral college do not vote until December 19th.  That gives us, from the date this post is written, just under a month to contact them.  These are the people we voted for to represent us, so we should let them know how we feel about this election.  They do not have to vote with the popular vote in their state.  A lot of us are scared right now.  Why shouldn’t we make sure they know why?

This article by Politico compiled the list of electors from each state.  This post from The Communicated Stereotype will also have contact information for the electors from the states where the numbers were very close, as well as an example/sample email you can send.

I have a growing list of the contact information I can find for the electors, broken up by state: http://bit.ly/2gh83a0.  If you have any emails or other contact information to add to our lists, please contact me.

Please use your voice and help in whichever way you feel comfortable.  Whether you contact the electors, share this message for others to read, both, or something else entirely, you can do something.  This post will be shared by us on Twitter and Facebook.  If you would like to contact us feel free to do so either directly, through social media, or by leaving a comment below.

It’s not too late.  This is something we cannot deny.

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From an Ally’s Perspective

I have seen a lot of people expressing fear the last day or so. I have seen it from friends, I have seen it from family, and I have seen it online. I’d be lying if I said I am not afraid. I am afraid. I am afraid of so very many things right now. I am afraid that people I love are less safe than they were a week ago. I am afraid that people in general are less safe than they were before. I am afraid that people, no matter what their opinions are, will be attacked or shut down for those beliefs. I am afraid for my safety.

I am an ally. Today as I write this post that word means something different to me than it did when I was younger. When I was younger I was in the shadows. I supported those close to me and those who found me. I gave them a place to be themselves. I have helped people of all parts of the community. There was the time my friend expressed his desires to be more than friends and was concerned I would abandon him for those feelings, which I didn’t. Then there was the time my acceptance of a friend as transgender gave them the courage to start what they needed to do to be happy. I was an ally in those moments, but I was in the shadows. I only gave those I interacted with hope and validation; maybe it got passed onto people they knew, but that is something I might never know.

As I write this post though I have been doing more as an ally. Just over a year ago I met Tyler and they have very quickly become one of my closest friends. For a little while they turned my world upside down, but once I acclimated it was clearer. I started out small; I took back to Twitter, re-tweeting things they tweeted. Sometimes I jumped into the middle of a Twitter war to help however I could. Then I started to re-tweet things other people said. I started to educate and converse with people around me, spreading the knowledge Tyler has shared with me. I went to the pride celebration not that far from us with Tyler and my sister. I walk around with my backpack covered in rainbow ribbons.

I am afraid though for my safety. I am afraid that my defense of the community makes me a target. I am so afraid that the first night post-election, I was feeling frozen in fear and wanted to step back from the community. I might have let that happen had Tyler not made a very convincing argument for why they couldn’t back down, how they need to stay out in the open. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for Tyler not backing down I might have stepped back into the shadows. My loyalty runs so deep that I can’t step back while they’re still fighting.

So to everyone else who is afraid, no matter what group you belong to, I am afraid too. I know though I can’t let my fear conquer me, I can’t let my fear keep me from supporting and protecting the people I love, and I can’t let my fear stop me from trying to improve the world for those who are to come after me. I know what I am doing is small in comparison to what many others do, but that doesn’t make it less important. So I am not going to let this stop me, I am going to keep my voice out there.

For any general questions, comments, or concerns, please contact us.

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Here’s To Hope

Trigger Warning: Election Discussion

I need to preface this: I am 100% okay with you having an opinion, with your opinion being different than mine, and with us having a civil discussion about ideas and opinions.  I am okay with you being of a different political party affiliation than I am.  I am not at all okay with attacking, putting down, making fun of, etc., people for their opinions or affiliations.  If you can’t handle that, please don’t bother commenting.

I’ve been trying not to talk about the election.  There’s no easy way to think about it.  There’s no easy way to talk about it.

Now that it’s over, and after taking a day to process it, I’m decidedly going to talk about it.

Donald Trump won the US Presidential Election this year.

I have no way to know what you’re feeling.  Not unless you tell me.  But a lot of what I’m feeling is fear.

There is a lot of fear right now.  Emphasis on a lot.  People are afraid.  The LGBTQ+ community alone was breaking down on Tuesday night, and no doubt still is, I just took a step back from Twitter so I could process everything, so I can’t say for sure.  I have never felt heartbreak like I did when I scrolled through my twitter feed Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.  And there is no doubt in my mind this fear is probably being experienced by a lot of other communities as well right now.

I want you to know it’s okay to be afraid.

Whether you’re a kid and you don’t really know what’s going on, an adult who feels like you shouldn’t be afraid, anyone.  Feeling anything, including fear, is 100% valid and important.

Part of what I’m afraid of is that you feel alone.  I know how terrifying this time can be, and feeling alone makes it that much scarier.  Please know you aren’t alone.  I know feeling it and knowing it are two very different things, and I need you to know that at the bare minimum, I am here.  You are not alone.

There are plenty of reasons I in particular am terrified about Trump winning the election.
I’m worried for my safety, my rights; living as an out queer person already wasn’t easy, and given the promise of taking steps backwards in terms of the rights myself and my community have fought so hard for, I can’t imagine it getting any easier any time soon.
I’m worried that all of the ideas perpetuated in the months leading up to the debate regarding sexual assault, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. are all more normal and acceptable now that he’s won.
I’m worried for all of the children, especially the ones who were crying yesterday, because a lot of them don’t know what to expect and are starting to not feel safe here either, and they didn’t have the opportunity to be heard.
I’m worried that we have failed them.
I’m worried for all of the teenagers and adults who are aware of what’s going on and don’t feel safe; the people who are afraid to go about their daily routines, such as riding the train to work, because they feel like they’re even more likely to be assaulted or harassed now.
I’m worried for everyone who feels alone and scared right now, who feels like they have no support.
I’m worried for everyone who was finally starting to find themself and now feels like they need to go back into/stay in the closet to feel safe.
I’m worried for the people who can’t be in the closet.
But most of all, I’m worried that no one cares.

The reason I’m worried that no one cares is very much connected with the fact that he won.  Because I worry that all of the things he’s said, promised, and done didn’t matter in the slightest.  That it’s okay for him to say whatever he wants about any group of people.  And you can try to tell me it isn’t.  But:
1) I already know it isn’t
2) If you’re not being sincere, really what’s the point?
3) He won the election
So yes, the idea that it is okay for these things to be said is now out there.  Otherwise he would have faced some sort of repercussion.  But he didn’t.  So we established this is okay.  And personally, I think that’s both shameful and terrifying.

This has nothing to do with parties.  This has everything to do with ideas and reality.  And now my reality is seeing the violent racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. every time I log onto social media.  And I worry this is your reality too.  

But despite everything, I’m more afraid of being invisible again than I am of being visible.

I’m not afraid of invisibility as much for my own sake as I am for your sake.  Things could get really bad very soon, and even though there’s no way I can say for sure or have all of the answers, I can say this:

I’m afraid.  I’m afraid because of the outcome of this election and because of the implications that has not only for communities, but for the communication about communities.  I’m afraid, so afraid, that visibility will be drastically impacted by the outcome of this election.  And despite all of the fear I may have, I’m going to continue to post and have ideas and be visible, because I feel it’s important.  I will be visible for you, for the kids, for the adults, for everyone, because if you need it, I don’t want it to not be there for you.

I want to understand.  I do.  I don’t understand why people think this is okay, and I want to understand.  I may not agree with you, I will likely still be absolutely terrified for what’s to come, but I don’t understand why he won, why anyone thinks this is okay, or why people keep telling me I shouldn’t be afraid.

If you need to discuss, or let out your emotion, or react, feel free to leave a comment, contact me directly, find us on Twitter, or visit our resources page.

You are not alone my friends.

Stay proud, stay strong, stay safe, and stay hopeful.

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What is a Safe Space?

This week for Terminology Tuesday I want to discuss safe spaces, because I feel like there’s a growing animosity toward them, especially in school settings.

A safe space is a space in which individuals will be welcome regardless of who they are or what they believe.

This does not mean opposition is not allowed in the space; it means people are allowed to have opposing opinions and not be attacked or judged for having them.

Many people argue that a safe space will take away from discussion because it will limit the amount of topics they are allowed to talk about in that space.  But what’s safe about avoiding the discussion?  What’s safe about not talking about what might need to be talked about?  I don’t think there’s anything safe about not having that conversation; I think it’s a disservice to not have that conversation.  The reason some people don’t know about certain identities and issues is because we don’t create the space in which it can safely be talked about.  How, then, can you call that space a safe space?

If you want to talk more about safe spaces, or want to share how you feel about safe spaces, feel free to join the discussion by either leaving a comment, finding us on Twitter, or contacting us directly.

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What is National Coming Out Day

This year, National Coming Out Day happened to line up with Terminology Tuesday.  It is also Beneath The Identity’s one year anniversary.  I’m going to use this opportunity to talk about what National Coming Out Day is.

National Coming Out Day is a day in the LGBTQ+ community originally started as a day geared toward increasing visibility and fighting stereotypes.  

Regarding this day and what it stands for, I want to make two important points:

1. Coming out is not necessary

If you don’t want to come out, or you aren’t ready to come out, that is 100% okay.  You are still you, and you are still valid.  Coming out can be extremely difficult, and you shouldn’t feel forced into it if you aren’t up to it.

2. Coming out is not exclusive to the LGBTQ+ community

There are so many identities in the world.  Coming out doesn’t need to just be for this community.  All identities are valid, and no one should feel like they aren’t included. 

There is also this idea in the community that allies and those who identify as straight shouldn’t come out as such.  Personally, I disagree, as long as it isn’t done mockingly.  I think coming out as an ally is extremely important to the community.  It lets those of us in the community know who is definitely a safe person we can go to.  I think coming out as straight, though not as vital as coming out as an ally, can be beneficial as well.  It puts us on more of an equal level.  And I think that’s important.

No matter how you spend today, I want you to remember:

You are valid.  You matter, you are valid, and you are not alone. 

Stay safe friends. 

Posted in Gender, LGBTQ+, Personal, Romantic Orientation, Sexuality, Societal, Spectrum, Terminology Tuesday | Leave a comment

National Coming Out Day

Happy National Coming Out Day to everyone who has already come out, you brave, wonderful souls, I am proud of you.

Happy National Coming Out Day to all those who have yet to come out, either because you aren’t ready yet, because it isn’t safe to, or for any other reason. You are so strong, so wonderful, and just as valid as anyone else. I hope when the day comes that you do come out, everything goes well, and you are accepted. You definitely deserve it.

Happy National Coming Out Day to all of those who are still questioning their sexuality or gender identity, I promise you, one day, you shall figure it out. I’ve been there.

Happy National Coming Out Day to everyone that is strong enough, and brave enough to let their real selves shine through, it’s so very hard to do, especially in this world that wants you to sit down, shut up, and conform to the norm.

Happy National Coming Out Day to everyone that challenges cis and heteronormativity every day. Don’t let anyone tell you how to be you, or how to express you. Follow your heart, and stay true.

Happy National Coming Out Day to everyone that is already out, but doesn’t always come out to new people, or those who are in the process of coming out and only tell a selective few people.

Happy National Coming Out Day to everyone. You are all valid, and you are spectacular. I love you, I understand you, and I support you.

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What are Preferred Pronouns?

This week for Terminology Tuesday I want to talk about preferred pronouns.   This builds on the beginning of my series on pronouns, when I talked about pronouns and why they are important.

Preferred pronouns are tremendously overlooked, in part because of the way the LGBTQ+ community continues to communicate about them.

There are some people who are okay with several sets of pronouns, but will prefer one set over the others they are also okay with.  These are someone’s preferred pronouns.

This is not to take away from the fact that some people have pronouns, not preferred pronouns.  A significant portion of the trans* community adamantly defends their pronouns, primarily through posting about how their pronouns are their pronouns and not their preferred pronouns.  And this is okay for these individuals.  But there are some individuals who do have preferred pronouns, and the push to remove the word “preferred” entirely is not helpful to those who have more than one set of pronouns.

It is because of this I have been uneasily referring to my preferred pronouns as my pronouns in situations where I wanted to add “preferred” into it.  I don’t always think I need to say my pronouns are more of a preference over other pronouns, because to me I just don’t feel like it’s always necessary.  As much as I strongly prefer they/them pronouns over he/him and she/her pronouns, someone using the incorrect pronoun doesn’t always bother me.  But there are situations where I would have loved to say “preferred pronouns” over “pronouns” and haven’t, and at this point in my journey, that bothers me.

For those of you out there who have preferred pronouns, you are valid, and you are not alone.  You are allowed to have preferred pronouns just as much as you are allowed to have pronouns.  It all depends on how you feel about your own identity.

How do you feel about your pronouns/preferred pronouns?  Join the discussion!  Leave a comment, contact us directly, or find us on Twitter!

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Pronouns and Transphobia

Recently, the University of Michigan has made an important change regarding pronouns which will help LGBTQ+ students feel they are seen, heard, and included on campus.  For anyone looking to see how this change was handled, see the email sent out, the school’s Spectrum Center page, and the school’s ITS help page.

As previously discussed, a pronoun is, as defined by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, “A word used instead of a noun to designate an object which is identifiable from context or usage, or which has already been mentioned or indicated (e.g. we, theirs, this, ourselves, who). (One of the parts of speech.)”

Personally, I think think this change is an important one because it is a step toward making initial classroom interactions less awkward for students who challenge or identify outside of the binary.  As an individual who does not identify with a binary gender and who has talked to a number of people who do not identify with binary genders, classroom situations with new teachers/professors can be extremely stressful because we never know how we will be referred to.  By including pronouns on the classroom roster, students no longer have to hope they have time to explain their pronoun preferences and have them understood and accepted.  Thank you to everyone who had a part in making this decision.  You are making a difference in the community, and we are extremely grateful for it.

Following this decision was the decision of one student, Grant Strobl, to write in “His Majesty” in the “Write Your Own” option on the gender identity page.  Though Grant has stated, “I have no problem with students asking to be identified a certain way,” Grant’s decision to start this movement in protest against what Grant considers to be “arbitrary” pronoun use is not at all supportive of students who ask to be identified outside of the gender binary.

I won’t link to any more specific comments because some of the comments can be triggering to trans* people and their allies, and I’m not here to trigger anyone, I’m here to talk about pronouns.

Now, let’s talk about “His Majesty” for a second, outside of the context of Grant Strobl.
“His,” as designated by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary as well as countless other sources, is a pronoun.
“Majesty,” as designated by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary as well as countless other sources, is a noun.
In addition to this, the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary has a subsection under “His” which states “In titles (as His Lordship, His Majesty): that he is. m16.”

In case you missed it, let me repeat this.
“In titles (as His Lordship, His Majesty)”

“His Majesty” is a title, an honorific if you need another word for it.

“His Majesty” is not a pronoun.

Even if you were to look at nounself pronouns, “His Majesty” is still not a pronoun.

Just because it has a pronoun in it, and can be used to refer to someone, does not inherently make it a pronoun.

The more this is spread around and other individuals join in and change their pronouns to other titles/honorifics/non-pronouns, the more transphobia is normalized.  It is not okay to continue to perpetuate the idea that our identities are arbitrary and shouldn’t be listened to or taken seriously.  My pronouns are no different than anyone else’s pronouns.  We all have them, we all use them, they are important to all of us, and they are used by all of us.

The fact that anyone feels like it is okay to make a joke out of what people sometimes spend their entire lives fighting for is pretty disgusting.  The fact that Grant, someone who is in a position to have a significant number of people follow him in this movement, is signaling to others that it is okay to spread transphobia and mock those who do not conform to the gender binary is pretty disgusting.  I know there’s a lot going on politically in this country right now which make it appear like bullying is okay, but it isn’t.  It is never okay to be a bully.  There are reasons we pass laws about bullying in schools, and this is one of them.

If anyone can sufficiently explain to me how “His Majesty” in its entirety is a pronoun, and whether it is a(n) personal, possessive, demonstrative, relative, reflexive/intensive, interrogative, or indefinite pronoun, please do.  But until that happens, if it even can, I take this as a threat to my community and to the things I stand for.  I support the school’s decision to add a space for preferred pronouns; I do not support students using the system to bully others and perpetuate hate.

Posted in Content Warning, Discussion, Gender, Issue, LGBTQ+, Societal, Spectrum, Stereotypes | 5 Comments