I Wish You All The Best: A Book Review

What a time to be alive, where fiction about Nonbinary people, has gone mainstream! In my wildest dreams, I never would have imagined it, to be honest. Here we are though, just a day shy of the whole first release week of I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver having taken place, and it has taken the internet by storm for all of the right reasons.

From the get go, it is made apparent that this book will be delving into subjects with emotional depth, as the story begins with the main character, Benjamin De Decker, being kicked out of their home for outing themself to their parents. From there, it becomes a narrative of healing for them, as they try to piece back together a life in shambles.

If you are looking for light-hearted, then I suggest searching elsewhere, because though there are humor laden exchanges and a romance between the MC and another character, which builds gradually throughout, this book is first and foremost about trauma and healing from it. With that being said, this was a harder read for me, but I am so grateful that this book exists. Years ago, as a Nonbinary teen, I would have benefited greatly from it, had it been available at that time.

As for the mechanics of the story, the character driven plot was done well. There was nuance and growth throughout, especially from Ben. Though their healing takes center-stage, Ben’s sister also transcends her original starting point, as does the love interest. Their motivations and facets are fleshed out to where I can see them being actual people. These three are the characters we see the most, so I feel it’s important to highlight those above the others. However, each person in the cast of characters was unique, and believable, which added layers to the story that would not have previously been there otherwise.

Overall, though a difficult read for anyone who can remotely relate to Ben on certain issues, this book is one of the best to come out of this release year. I am grateful to have read it, and I can only hope that the author will continue writing, as I look forward to their next work.

I rated this book on Goodreads 5/5 stars.

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In Joy, Too

In a change of pace, because we all need that with the dour circumstances surrounding the trans community as of late, I want to express my thoughts on the times where I feel joy in regards to my gender, because I don’t do that often enough, even though there are times where that emotion does overwhelm me, against the odds.

  1. When I sing a song, and my voice is right either between what people consider masculine and feminine sounding octaves, or more masuline. One of the constant thorns in my sides on the days I have any form of dysphoria, is the sound of my voice. If I take a phone call, sometimes I will make my voice lighter out of habit, because it is expected as a social norm. Furthermore, I am self conscious still when my voice sounds masculine around people I do not know, so in person, if I am nervous about a reaction, I will also do this then too. However, singing songs by Ed Sheeran, and other similar voices that tread that line helps, as I can form my voice in a way that does not adhere to the gender stereotypical binary when I do, or in a more masculine way.
  2. When people I know, or anyone really, uses my chosen name and proper pronouns, as opposed to my dead name, etc. My heart does leaps and bounds when I hear T.J. versus the name which shall not be spoken of. There are times where I have to go by my dead name and assigned at birth gender pronouns for legal or protection reasons, but otherwise, T.J. is the only name that feels like mine, and I become ecstatic knowing that people who have known me for years work to using it and my preferred/proper pronouns.
  3. When I am able to dress androgynously, or in a more masculine fashion, and no one bats an eye about it. There have been times where I have either dressed in a more masculine fashion, or androgynously, and I can visibly see that people are trying to figure out my assigned at birth gender, or they glare at me. It’s frustrating and scary. So, to be in an environment where I feel safe to express myself through what I wear, is everything to me.
  4. When I sign up for a new service or website, and Non-Binary is an option to denote my gender. As far as inclusion goes, I know society has miles to go, and that does frustrate me. However, it is exciting that larger websites such as Spotify and Pinterest have given that as an option. It makes my mind and heart soar.
  5. Discovering well done representation of Non-Binary people in any media form. I’ve mentioned before how the lack of Non-Binary rep is aggravating. However, this year I have been exposed to more than ever, and I am grateful to have discovered those few. Progress, even at a snail’s pace, is progress. I, for one, am grateful for it.

Gender Queer: A Memoir – A Book Review

I cannot express how elated I was to discover this graphic novel memoir on NetGalley. Reading the title felt like a beacon hailing me to shore, after a long, weary journey adrift at sea. Filled with equal amounts of excitement and apprehension, I downloaded it, hoping that it would live up to the expectations that roiled through me as I did.

Gender Queer: A Memoir is written and illustrated by a Nonbinary artist named Maia Kobabe, colored by Phoebe Kobabe. It follows eir journey through childhood up to present day where Kobabe has become confident in eir gender identity and expression. In accompaniment to the words, there are beautiful drawings that illustrate the peaks and pitfalls of being who e is.

As an AFAB, or Assigned Female At Birth, Nonbinary person myself, I deeply felt certain emotions that leapt off of each page in this book. Likewise, I believe that e exhibited all of the experiences well, so that even those who have not endured them, will understand. I will note though that I am not Asexual, nor do I use the same pronouns as the author. However, I did learn more about each aspect through this novel, so that in and of itself was an added bonus to picking it up.

I can say that without a doubt, I do recommend this work to everyone. If you’re questioning, or searching for Nonbinary or Genderqueer rep, then this is a wonderful one to choose. Likewise, if you’re wishing to be informed as an ally or learn of an experience outside of your own, then this novel can also be for you.

Overall, Gender Queer: A Memoir is a moving and well-illustrated graphic novel that I can see myself purchasing in the future to give to family members and friends. I feel this medium is the ideal one to tell the story that was presented. If any of this sounds up your alley in any way, then definitely consider buying a copy when it comes out on May 28th, 2019!

I rate this title 5/5 stars.

Disclaimer: I was given a free ARC of this title by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One Day At A Time and What It Means To Me

One Day At A Time and What It Means To Me

Disclaimer: First and foremost, because there has been some confusion, I just want to set the record straight and mention that I am not Latinx. I married someone who is, and that is where my last name comes from. It does not bother me that I am confused as someone who is, except that I refuse to falsely portray the narrative of someone I am not. To me doing that is the same thing as stolen valor, which is not okay either. So with that being said, I will continue this ramble.

As a good portion of the universe knows at this point, Netflix announced on Thursday, March 13th, 2019, that it cancelled One Day At A Time. To say that I am heartbroken is probably an understatement, to be honest. This show means so much to my family of three, who have two Latinx individuals in it, excluding myself, as I am Caucasian. However, in a show that was made primarily for Latinx people, I still see myself in the character of Syd, who is the only Enby I have ever encountered in on screen media. Being able to see myself, but also the fact that others found representation for their own lives, is why I am distraught at this decision.

In a world where there seems to be so much geared toward those who are not only straight, but also cisgender persons, finding someone who is transgender on television, much less almost exactly like me, was a profound moment. Likewise, to see someone with not only the same gender as me, but the same pronouns, was life altering. I cried over it, to be honest, because I never thought I would see the day when that would happen. So much of my viewing experience has surrounded seeking myself out in people who are only similar to me in certain aspects. At least that was the case, until Syd. Now that I have experienced this, I am only more insistent that it not be the last time I, or other enbies alike, do.

Whether Lin-Manuel Miranda and every other person who has pitched in pulls off saving this beloved show or not, I will be forever grateful that it allowed me to see myself in a positive light, through the inclusion of Syd. The script could have easily been written differently, as has been done many times before. I can only hope that the networks who may be considering picking up the show understand that beyond Syd, there is so much more to love about One Day At A Time, and that it deserves to dance its way into the hearts of more people for years to come. For now though, all we can do is take life as it comes – one day at a time.

The Weight of Years

The Weight of Years

Nearly two months ago, I sheared off over two feet of my hair. Relief was instant – I felt lighter than I had since I last did that over four years before. The first occasion that my hair was shorn, I equated it to the fact that in my life, I have always had bulky, and at times, disagreeable hair, which necessitates cutting off portions of it to varying degrees every so often. Now, as I’m older, I realize it was much more than that.

With locks that were over half the length of my body, it was difficult to believe that someone would not equate my appearance to a certain binary gender, rather than the way I wish to be seen – otherwise neutral, or non-binary. Dysphoria became the norm, as vulnerability encompassed a part of my mental state, which made each day or social outing that much harder. As each strand descended to the floor, I felt an extra breath of life fill my lungs.

Free from the burden of the weight of years, I have found a peace that only exists within me as I allow myself the room to be who I am, rather than what the world wishes me to be. However, I am far from where I want to be as a whole, but each change helps.

Greener Pastures Still Have Crap In Them

I remember the anxiety of the day I had selected to out my gender identity to the majority of those I knew. The act of doing so was an event that I had anticipated for some time, once I realized my own truth. That was a silent war of its own, but I had conquered that vast terrain of self discovery, so I was ready for everyone else to know. It was supposed to be the last major step, right? Spoiler alert: it was not.

In July of 2018, I wrote a lengthy Facebook post for those that had not been made aware that I preferred to be called by a different name, and my reasons behind that choice. While some might scoff at that, I am a shy person by nature, and discussing it was a huge milestone in itself. That I chose the medium of Facebook did not diminish the anxiety or fear that I experienced over this time regarding the next phase of my life. On the post itself, I received only positive reactions and supportive comments. However, I knew that would not be the end of it.

Since then, I have come out to various people, such as those who I had not known in July of 2018, people who don’t pay attention to Facebook, or others who chose to ignore what I had written. Some of them were easy, while a handful of interactions left much to be desired. Overall, it has gone better than I expected so far, to say the least. However, that, was only the first hill to conquer in my newly found journey of transparency, even if I did not know it then.

From my time on certain sites, such as Tumblr or other LGBT+ spaces across various platforms, misgendering, utilizing the wrong pronouns for someone, or dead naming, are held up as prime examples of being a terrible ally, etc. In my experience, it is not always so, no matter how frustrating or soul crushing it can be when it happens. In truth, I had not anticipated encountering these sort of situations when I began coming out, because I assumed that given the amount of positivity around me, it would have been like a light switch to flip, right?

Wrong, again.

For people who have known an individual for any length of time in various capacities, especially in closer platonic or romantic relationships, it can be difficult to shift away from years of ingrained habits. I am aware that this opinion contradicts expectations that I have found in other LGBT+ people I’ve known, but it’s realistic in some circumstances. In the beginning, I fell prey to the assumption that if the switch was not automatic, then that meant they cared less about my feelings, and more for their own complacency. However, in some cases, it is not an indication of whether or not your friend or family member cares. The slower reaction to requested change is merely a product of having known someone else by one way for so long.

This is not to say that people should get passes for inaction, because anyone who elects to feign ignorance should be afforded no lee way. However, for those being proactive for the sake of respecting you and how you wish to be identified, but occasionally slip up? They’re the ones worth the time and effort. Despite popular belief amongst some, it is not quite as simple as each of us wish it could be, as past events in my own life have shown.

So, where does that leave me in all of this, and how do I feel now?

Well, I can say that who I am has not changed, but how I present myself has, especially around people who know me. I feel more confident in who I am, because I can be real with the people in my life that matter. For so long, I was unable to do that, and it made me into someone I could not stand seeing in the mirror every single day. Now, whether that be for my actions throughout the previous day due to residual anger, or the depression and anxiety that wreaked havoc on my existence throughout those times of suppression, it all played a part in the loathing of my physical and self images. Since I have been allowed to let everyone in on my secret, that has abated, for the most part. The times it hasn’t, well, that’s a topic for another day. Overall though, coming out to the vast majority of those I interact with on a social level has largely changed my life for the better

With that being said, as I mentioned before, and Jackson Bird did in a video he made a while back, “No matter how it went, I bet you’re relieved it’s finally out there and done with. A big weight lifted off of your shoulders. Well, get ready to do it all over again. And again. And again. And again. For the rest of your damn life.” This, as I have learned over time, could not be more accurate.

In stark contrast to that statement, I feel it is worth acknowledging that regardless of political climate or your confidence in yourself, there will be places or people that are not safe to out yourself around. As hard as that is to face, no matter how open you are in specific portions of your life, there may be others where you cannot be. This may depend upon, but is not limited to, where you live, who you live around, who you are employed to, or how such a revelation could affect you or those around you. It’s heart wrenching, and unfair, but necessary in some cases. However, each person and how they choose to reveal who they are in each setting is up to their discretion, because safety is priority.

In that same vein, I too feel the pressure to conceal who I am at times, for my sake or my family’s. I hail from the Southern portion of the United States where identifying yourself as someone outside of the expected is met with harsh criticism from a good portion of people. In some cases, it is mere hostile words or glances, but in others, hate fueled ignorant rage has led to torture and death for some LGBT+ individuals. I am also a military spouse. These two factors have contributed to my reluctance of who I out myself to, because it does not just affect me, but our entire family. The military in recent times has become more accepting overall, and I am just a spouse. However, given that there is still the possibility of travelling to states that are not as friendly to LGBT+ people as the one we live in now, as well as the fact we interact with people from everywhere across the U.S. and political spectrum, I choose to withhold my identity past my social circles, for the time being. In the future, should it be available, I will change my driver’s license and possibly even my birth certificate. Until then, this is what we have chosen, and I am more than happy to comply.

In conclusion, my experience with coming out is mine. Each person who discovers that it is inevitable for themselves may have similarities, but we are all as unique as each color of the rainbow, and our experiences will reflect that. My expectations leading up to the actual event, and the subsequent time after, were different in contrast to what occurred, but that does not make them wrong. I am grateful for the support network I do have in my life, and even if it’s not exactly how I imagined it, coming out was the right thing to do, because looking back from this side of the fence, I could not imagine going back.