By MACEY GIBASZEK, Ranger Reporter:
Q: What are your preferred pronouns?
A: I use he/him and they/them pronouns.
Q: Can you tell me about your experiences being a part of the LGBTQ+ community both in Amarillo and in general?
A: I was usually friends with LGBTQ+ identified people by accident. Those are the people I just happened to get along with. Especially because my high school (AHS) didn’t have any LGBTQ+ clubs, there wasn’t really a LGBTQ+ community. That’s really unfortunate because there is a growing body of research that says that supportive LGBTQ+ communities can really help counteract the negative physical and psychological effects of being a stigmatized minority. For that reason, I really hope that Amarillo, especially Amarillo high schools, form a more explicit LGBTQ+ community soon.
Q: What are your views on the LGBTQ+ community as a whole?
A: The LGBTQ+ community is an extension of the community it’s in. By that I mean, its general politics and personality aren’t as different as you’d expect. In my experience, the LGBTQ+ community is a little more accepting and a little more liberal than the surrounding community. So I tend to get along with those people better; but things like racism, transphobia and misogyny are all still present in the LGBTQ+ community.
Q: In what ways would you like to enlighten people about being transgender?
A: A lot of people equate being trans with being a sexual deviant. I wish people knew that my identity outside of gender expectations has nothing to do with my sexuality, my relationships with others, or any chosen expression–it’s just who I am. I also wish people knew that gender expression and gender identity are different things. Just because I identify as trans-masculine, doesn’t mean I have to fit the mold of masculinity for my gender identity to be valid.
I can wear a pink crop top and still be a man.
Q: From “Transparent” to Laverne Cox to Caitlin Jenner, trans people are getting more and more recognition and representation in the media. While this is only a baby step, what are your thoughts on it?
A: In a lot of ways, it’s really exciting. A lot of transphobia just comes from ignorance, and so I think that the more people see trans people as people with lives and personalities and human qualities, the less transphobia we will see. I’m also really glad that Laverne Cox is getting so much attention now because if trans people have to have a spokeswoman, Laverne Cox is much better for that job than Caitlyn Jenner.
Q: Have there been instances where Amarillo and the people that live here have negatively or positively impacted you since coming out?
A: I had a few teachers who really supported me and tried to respectfully ask questions so that they could be better allies and teachers. I also had some friends who were great. In general though, the school administration and the overall city culture are really difficult for trans people. My time in Austin has shown me the impact that city culture and knowledge can have (e.g., gender inclusive restrooms, job opportunities, practices such as asking for people’s pronouns in all kinds of spaces, etc.).
Q: Do you have any goals for the trans community both in Amarillo and just as a whole?
A: I’d like to see the trans community, like the rest of the LGBTQ+ community, be more inclusive of, and even follow the leadership of trans women of color. Trans women of color have the most oppression to overcome, and if we don’t rise up, their needs won’t be met. Racism and misogyny are trans issues as much as transphobia is.
Q: More and more people of the LGBTQ+ community are coming out. Why do you think this is?
A: LGBTQ+ people are a lot more visible in the media now and I think that seeing yourself reflected in TV characters and seeing your identities respected by political movements/parties is important for having the confidence to “come out.” Hopefully more people coming out means there are less LGBTQ+ people internalizing homophobia and transphobia and dealing with that hatred in isolation.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to tell me?
A: There are several trans resources in Amarillo (e.g., trans support group, trans-friendly psychologists and physicians, etc.). So if anyone reading this is in need of, or knows somebody in need of such resources, I’d be more than happy to share that information. Just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.