Check out my About page!

I recently entered another contest on vocal.media in hopes to win money so that I may transform my blog into a nonprofit. Here’s my submission; these are my intentions.


Drop a stone into still water, and you will see its ripple effect. That’s what I want to be. I want to be an effective agent of social change, a stone dropped into water, propelled into the future by compassion—compassion for the self and compassion for others. My goal is to provide resources and a safe space for people to explore and understand their identities in relation to currently accepted social constructs in order to become more self-actualized, and by doing so, create a more empowering and compassionate world. 

I long for this kind of new world, and I believe that compassion is the key:

Developing compassion for the self is not easy. It took me the first 25 years of my life to figure out that I am not what people have told me I am, that I am not broken because I didn’t fit their molds. Now at 27, even when I struggle, I have a community behind me because embracing my authentic self, and committing to loving myself for who that is, brought the right people to me and me to them. I want to bring resources, resources that I didn’t have growing up, to folk who are exploring their identities in context of the pervasive and harmful constructs that exist today. I believe through self-exploration and acceptance, in defiance of the wills that be, compassion can’t but flow freely. That compassion is contagious and empowers others. It strengthens our communities, and we grow together. 

Within that compassion, I find it imperative for individuals to demand social change by decolonizing their points of view and the ways they interact with the world. I will admit that I am still learning, but that’s why community is so important, so that we can learn from each other as we grow together. I aim to leverage the privilege that I do have to raise the voices of marginalized communities and to usher in new understanding for those who are not affected by racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, etc. We do not exist in a vacuum; intersectionality needs to be the lens through which we perceive people and our interactions. History has its role in informing present actions, so that a brighter future may be achieved.

Maslow got it wrong:

In effort to decolonize our hierarchy of needs as perpetuated by Maslow himself, it’s important to recognize that he bastardized the “hierarchy” found in Blackfoot culture, which he visited in 1938. In Blackfoot culture, as discussed by Dr. Cindy Blackstock, self-actualization is an integral step toward cultural perpetuity, with cultural actualization between the two. Western concepts of this process has done a great disservice to humanity, as we are so far away from our roots in stark individuality, and suffering for it. Humans are social beings, and need community to survive and thrive. I’m not talking about thriving in the sense of having a CEO position that makes millions of dollars by exploiting the labor beneath, but thriving in the sense that all humans are cared for, fulfilled, and happy. The Blackfoot way of life is not a hierarchy, as each element mentioned works simultaneously and instantaneously. The individual cannot thrive without its community, and the community would not exist without each individual doing their part. But in a modern world where it is nearly impossible to live authentically without burden, it’s hard to imagine what a world would look like when all of us are self-actualized—cared for, fulfilled, happy—a world where we all know who we are outside of the social constructs that tell us who we’re supposed to be. In fact, if we were all self-actualized, I can almost guarantee that late capitalism would be a thing of the past and that harmful structures of knowing—racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia, etc.—would cease to exist.

A means to get there:

This blog is my brain child, and people are my passion. This blog is to become a hub of information and a safe space for self-exploration. I do not wish to only share my life experience as a white, autigender nonbinary, pansexual, polyamorous, autistic w/ADHD, disabled human; there are many places to relate to others on the internet. My overarching goal is to provide resources in one place for gender, sexuality, neurodiversity, disability, and sex-body-kink positivity. 

The safe space that this blog is to embody isn’t just for self-exploration, though. This is also where people can come to understand and embrace diversity in meaningful ways (ways in which to engage in anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion work). Too often do people shy away from learning and growing because they’re afraid of being wrong. We must set shame aside in order to grow, and I intend on being another conduit out in the ether for people to set aside their preconceptions and biases, to ask questions, and to not shy away from being wrong. Because when we are wrong, there is always the choice to learn and grow. And when we know better, we can do better.

The End Game:

Gaining numbers of subscribers is equal to building community. I’m in the beginning stages, but people read what I have to say because they feel seen and/or they’re learning more about the world that they’re living in. One day in the not-so-far-off future, I am going to turn this blog into a nonprofit that benefits LGBTQIA+ youth and their families specifically, but it will also benefit surrounding communities at large, as I am committed to playing a role in creating a more equitable society for all. 

I want to overwhelm the waters with ripples. No voice is too small when it comes to creating a more compassionate world. We need ALL the voices, and I am committed to being another stone dropped in the water, so that other stones may take form and add to the ripples as they drop too.

This is for my fellow enbys (and those who might be questioning): You cannot appropriate being trans. Here’s a great thread/article about it; You cannot appropriate being trans. You can only activate who you are by trying labels on and exploring gender.

For the first year after I came out, I felt like “trans” didn’t apply to me. Growing up, I was conditioned to identify as a woman because I have a “female body” (in quotes, as I’ve never had my chromosomes tested). That conditioning allowed discomfort for sure, but at the time, that discomfort was in context of misogyny. I wasn’t aware that I was being denied a more fitting identity profile, I just knew that being a woman kind of sucked (and outside of it sucking, it really didn’t suit me, but I couldn’t figure out how or why yet).

A quick recap on my history: In high school, the ‘T’ in LGBTQIA+ was rather silent for me, and the other letters hadn’t really existed yet. I had yet to meet any openly trans people (that I knew of), and sexuality took precedence. I only understood myself to be an ally at the time. Then in college I understood myself to be bisexual, and only understood bisexual to mean that I liked both men and women in a trans-exclusionary kind of way (this makes me cringe the most).

sdf

Post college I was adopted into an incredible community of friends—friends who are queer, sex and kink-positive, body neutral, and so loving. This community was where “nonbinary” finally found its way to me, and my world was rocked. It’s easy to not know who you are because you don’t see yourself reflected back to you, so when it finally IS reflected, it’s really hard to ignore. The safe space I was provided to try things on for myself, combined with that reflection, is what allowed me to realign to my authentic self.

All this to say: after I came out, it took me a literal year to be comfortable with identifying as trans. Not all nonbinary people identify as trans for many reasons, and for me, it was internalized transphobia along with feeling like an imposter—”nonbinary” was newer to the mainstream, and I “hadn’t suffered” as much as others I knew in the community had, just to be who we are. Besides, I wasn’t trans enough to actually be trans anyway, as if being nonbinary was just Woman Lite™ (cringe, especially since there are AMAB and intersex enbys).

Of course as I grew into my identity thereafter, the deeper understanding I gained, the more clear it was to me that nonbinary is completely valid as its own umbrella of genders under the transgender umbrella. But in order for me to get there, I had to be patient and undo a lot of conditioning. I had to reckon with the fact I had been taught my whole life how the LGBTQIA+ community is full of delinquents who I shouldn’t be associated with, who are sinners and need Jesus. And even though intellectually I understood this to be untrue, my inner workings needed some time to reverse that brainwashing. Outwardly I was afraid of overstepping boundaries and being perceived as an imposter or appropriating culture, and inwardly I was still fighting to not want to be a “delinquent” myself—to not be like them. *still cringing*

The only stable definition of being trans is “not identifying with your assigned gender a birth,” and I think that definition includes a hell of a lot of people who currently call themselves cis and are worried about appropriating being trans.

– Cherry Blossom (@DameKraft on Twitter)

Being trans is not a culture but an identity that informs community. For this reason alone, you cannot appropriate it. I think you can absolutely misrepresent the community, like Caitlyn Jenner has recently, or do harm as an ally (un/intentionally), but you can’t appropriate being trans because you can find transgender people in different cultures all over the world, where we’ve existed since the beginning.

The House of Trans™

So if you find yourself not identifying/vibing with your assigned gender at birth (AGAB), the House of Trans is open to you.

A friend reached out last year asking about gender things, and I offered her a metaphor:

Transness is a house, open to literally anyone. If you don’t feel at home in your gender, you might want to look through the window to the House of Trans and see what’s inside. And if you’re really searching, maybe you’ll open the door, step in, and stay awhile. If you feel more at home here, then home is where you’ll stay. But if you stay awhile and find that it’s not your true home, you’re welcome to leave and come again at any point. And you don’t have to suffer to gain passage! You might have walked by on a nice stroll through town and wanted to just see what’s inside. Maybe you’ve climbed the tallest mountain to reach the house. We all come to understand our identities in our own time, and each journey has its own obstacles to overcome. Whatever obstacles you’ve traversed (or lack thereof) doesn’t make you any more or less trans, it just means it took more or less time to get here. This isn’t the Suffer Olympics™. Yes, some folk may have more privilege than others in the fact that they haven’t suffered through a lot to be comfortable with who they are or put labels on things, but that privilege does not negate who they are.

You don’t need to have gender dysphoria to be trans. And you definitely don’t have to transition (hormonally or socially) to be trans. The only thing that you need to “qualify,” whether you think it’s justified or not, is to identify as something other than your AGAB. That’s it. And that includes identifying as your AGAB along with something else, as with some nonbinary people and demiboys/girls do. Your voice is just as valid as other trans voices if that’s how you want to identify. It all comes down to personal preference.

If trans doesn’t vibe with you *only* because you feel like you’re appropriating or are an impostor, please give yourself space and time to work through that. You are not any less of who you are because you’re not the same as others. And if you decide you still don’t identify as trans even after working through *why* that might be, that’s okay! You can still be nonbinary without claiming trans for yourself! Just know that the trans community is full of people who used to feel as you might right now, dear reader. You are not alone. 💜🖤💜


Exploring gender, sexuality, or neurodiversity? Remember, everything is at your own pace. And I can help! If you’d like to talk with someone about what you’re going through, I offer consulting services on a sliding scale. Please don’t hesitate to reach out through the contact tab on the main menu. 🥰

And soon I will be offering life coaching! Stay tuned!

I’ve never identified with the binary, not even as a young kid. It just didn’t make any sense.

– Me, from my post Nonbinary and Me

I’ve written a few times about my nonbinary gender and what it means to me. And I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job at expressing myself. Except it’s still felt a bit inconclusive, like something is perpetually lacking. Then I recently found autigender:

Neurodiverse Tumblr users first coined autigender in 2014, defining it as a gender which can only be understood in the context of being autistic. This definition suggests that some people’s gender experience and knowledge is influenced by or attached to their being autistic. 

– Katie Munday on AIM for the Rainbow

While autigender can be used as a standalone gender, it’s also used as a qualifier (much like nonbinary). When I say I am autigender nonbinary, I mean I cannot see the world without my autism’s influence, including perceiving and understanding how I am nonbinary. Using “autigender” does not make a person trans, though transness can of course co-occur (as it does with me). Autigender, as I use it, actually expands my understanding of my own transness. It just makes it make more sense.

I’ve never understood gender. Not once. I’ve only played the part and respected others’ expression. Intellectually I understand gender is a spectrum, but it’s hard for me to conceptualize that spectrum in any real meaningful way. It’s not tangible. I just know what feels right and what doesn’t. What some understand boy to be vs. girl does not land with me because we’re all just human. I have said before that I often wish I could just say my gender is “human” and call it a day.

Growing up, I didn’t want to be a boy, nor did I want to not be a girl. I just wanted to be me.

In looking back, it’s fair to say I wanted the social gender of “boy.” I didn’t care about genitalia, but I knew I wanted shorter hair (because long hair for me is sensory hell) and to be treated like “one of the guys.” And then puberty hit. My “weirdness”—I was still learning how to mask my autism effectively—already threatened me with ostracization. Therefore, it became abundantly clear that if I wanted to fit in at all, I needed to commit to the greatest acting challenge I’d ever have to take on: the role of “girl.” I participated in traditionally feminine rituals like doing make-up, wearing heels, or “gossiping,” because I desperately wanted to be included. All of it made me incredibly uncomfortable.

Making friends in the moment isn’t always hard, but keeping them has been a life-long challenge. So I played the part, and failed a lot. Instead of being true to myself, I put on mask after mask, to hide my quirks and to show up in the world as others expected me to be. I lost sight of who I was; even though I was performing gender the “right” way for the most part, I still didn’t succeed at keeping those friends. I have now learned that the more I am authentically me, and loud about it, the more the right people come into my life and stay.

I was forced into this box of femininity that did NOT serve me. I never saw myself like I saw the other girls, and never felt like I belonged. The only time I’ve felt like I’ve belonged was when I got attention from men in college. It was not an intrinsic sense of belonging, but a contentment that came from seeing how I was being treated just like the other girls (hello trauma).

– Me, again from the post Nonbinary and Me

It’s difficult to explain how I didn’t see myself like I saw other girls. It might be more accurate to say that I didn’t see myself as I projected how other girls saw themselves. And it didn’t help that my body didn’t develop in the same ways either (short stature, small chest, more of a square but pudgy middle, thick thighs). It was hard to ever feel beautiful, especially as I never felt like my outer appearance reflected my inner self, though I didn’t know why. No feminine expression ever really felt right. The most beautiful I ever felt was in a messy bun and sweats. In fact, that was when I got complimented the most. I theorize it’s because I was comfortable, and therefore more able to be authentic. It never crossed my mind that I could be something other than a girl, not even when I encountered trans people for the first time and started to learn about how I fit into the LGBTQIA+ community in sexuality (probably because nonbinary wasn’t a part of that world yet in the way that it is now). Every instance of “failure” I experienced at performing my gender directly affected my intrinsic sense of self-worth. Instead of “failing at being a girl” it felt like I was just failing at being human, at being me. And I really couldn’t understand why that was.

A lot of trans people have said and will continue to say, “Oh I’ve always know I wasn’t my AGAB.” These folx usually have stories to tell of how they defied gender stereotypes for that explicit purpose/understanding. For me, I’ve always known I was different neurologically (maybe not in those terms, but I knew I was different and that I couldn’t change). Gender, however, was never questioned because I was never presented another option. There are girls, and boys—that’s it. My version of “girl” growing up was “tomboy.” And after a certain point, “tomboy” was no longer acceptable.

And so, there was a complete disconnect inside of me, and not because I wanted a different gender’s body. I wanted a different body alright, but a different “girl” body so that I could pass as a girl better. All I wanted was to be a perfect daughter and someone a man would find worthy enough to marry. These were the virtues I was taught took precedence, even over my intellect. I could go to school and get a good job, but it really didn’t mean much unless I got married and had kids (as is the plight for women under the outdated rules of patriarchy, especially those who are consumed by the Christian Church as I was then).

In my brain, I’m just human–without qualifiers. I’m just ME.

I’ve said in the past that I feel like all the genders at once, or none at all, or I’ll slide fluidly between many. But that was only an attempt to describe how much gender just doesn’t work in my brain. Those were the words I knew to use to convey how things work for me, as best I could. Nonbinary has worked, but it’s been like wearing a shoe that’s just barely too tight. You can get away with wearing it fine for a while, but after a whole day of walking around, you’re sore and worse for wear. It’s a bit stifling. Suffocating. It’s still a box, even when there is no right or wrong way to be nonbinary (it’s paradoxical because there’s no right or wrong way to be any kind of gender). For this reason I sometimes prefer genderqueer to nonbinary (it conveys more room to move around in for me). I’d rather just not be a part of the system at all though. I’d rather be a constellation of what makes up ME, where I choose the things I do and do not like and exist as a human on this earth without being forced into labels or skewed understanding. Adding “autigender” to my nonbinary label, then, allows me that liberation from the whole spectrum even as I operate within it.

I do believe my neurology has played the biggest role in not only trapping me into “womanhood” for so long, but also in my liberation from it. I was a girl for so long because my environment told me I was. Many autists are very literal people, myself included. I just accepted I was a girl, and a poor one at that. I couldn’t truly grasp gender before, but now looking through the lens of my autism, everything just makes sense. I needed new information and a safe space to try other identities on, and I’m so grateful that’s what I found myself in just a few years ago, and continue to find. Give me the space and tools to be creative, and I will create! And man did I ever create a masterpiece, one that is wholly reflective of who I am and not who I was projected to be.


Exploring gender, sexuality, or neurodiversity? Remember, everything is at your own pace. And I can help! If you’d like to talk with someone about what you’re going through, I offer consulting services on a sliding scale. Please don’t hesitate to reach out through the contact tab on the main menu. 🥰

And soon I will be offering life coaching! Stay tuned!

CW: transphobia, deadnaming, sexism, mention of sex acts, su*c*de

It’s funny to me (read: ironic and awful) how cis people can change their names all the time without so much as a second glance, and yet when trans people do it, suddenly their identity is up for debate and relationships are at stake.

“It’s not just about you, it’s about everyone around you. Calling it your deadname makes me feel like our relationship is dead because I gave you that name and cherished picking it for you.”

– paraphrasing my mom; it was not so kind the first time

Calling a deadname a deadname is NOT reflective of a trans individual’s relationship with others, but with themselves. It is selfish and entitled to make someone else’s identity about yourself.

“She’s not dead! She is a part of you!”

– Mom

Actually, no. It’s the other way around, and I really wish cis people would wake up to that truth. We’re not talking about the inner child being a part of the adult here. We’re talking about how I have always been Jaesic, just with the wrong casing and outer/inner perception. As a child, I was not a “she.” I was forced to believe that I was though.

I had to construct a box around me that was “girl” to keep who I actually was, safe. And what a bunch of crap the notion of “safety” was and is to be a girl in this world. #fuckthepatriarchy

I remember in preschool a boy was picking on me pretty harshly, and I was told that that’s because he liked me.

That’s two boards nailed together: girls take abuse from boys because that’s them showing affection.

When I was 6 years old, I started going to our Assembly of God’s youth program: Missionettes. I had zero interest in Bible readings, and learning how to be a sweet, demure female. All we did was study, and learn house keeping. I’m not kidding. The boys, however, got to learn survival skills in Rangers (it was the church’s version of Boy Scouts). I desperately wanted to be a Ranger. Not only did I get along with boys better, but my dad was one of the leaders, and I wanted to be closer to him. And how cool would it have been to learn survival things! I loved nature, and I loved camping (still do, and my dad is still very passionate about camping).

“Girls can’t be in Rangers! Enough!’ – Dad. I thought because my dad was one of the leaders, that they could make an exception, but no. I cried for days.

Plank nailed in: the house is the female’s domain, and even when you’re passionate about something, you can be denied access due to your gender.

I was 7 years old playing outside in a dress that I didn’t want to wear, and fell to the ground after spinning around some (apparently spinning around all the time was a way to stim). My legs were bent as I was lying there and my mother screeched at me to keep my legs together and keep them down.

Another plank nailed in: girls cannot be carefree and must be aware of how they present their bottom half at all times.

I was in 4th grade, and they separated the boys and girls into different rooms to teach about sex organs and bodily changes.

Another plank: girls and boys are different, and it’s taboo/shameful to talk about those differences together.

In 5th grade my grandparents took the family on a Christmas cruise. Mom forced me again to wear a dress I did not want to wear. It was too much for my senses: bright red, too tight on my torso, and had poufy short sleeves. I felt hideous on top of wanting to puke and cry from sensory overload. I was in a foul mood all night and was severely reprimanded.

Plank: good girls do what they’re told without protest; comfort is in pleasing others and nothing else.

In 6th grade, I was on the bus after staying at school late, and a high school boy started harassing me about sex acts, including fisting, which I had no conceptualization for. I just sat their mute, awkwardly nodding and smiling out of nervous habit. I was unable to get away because we were the only two on the bus and he wasn’t letting up. Instead of interrupting the conversation as he was hearing it, the bus driver (my favorite bus driver at the time) waited until I was walking down the steps to my driveway to then scold me with, “I heard what you were talking about back there. What would your mother say should I tell her?” Every bus ride thereafter was a hell of anxiety.

Plank: there is shame in being harassed, and girls have to take full accountability for others’ actions.

In 7th grade I was told I could no longer play tag football in gym with the boys.

Plank: girls can’t and shouldn’t keep up with the boys, especially in sport. We’re inferior.

8th grade: I was caught sexting an older high school boy. Instead of talking to me about sexuality and asking me if I was okay, my parents “prayed the devil out of me” and grounded me for a year. Fun fact, I was not okay. I was constantly uncomfortable with what was happening, but didn’t have the ability to make boundaries and uphold them. I thought all girls wanted this attention from boys, and I only kept up with it because I thought I was “chosen.” I hated talking like that and barely even knew what I was saying or being told. All of it felt wrong.

Plank: my body and sexuality are a sin.

9th grade: Freshman year, my boyfriend touched my genitals under a blanket at the after prom party (he was a senior). I wasn’t coerced, but I wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about it. At the time I was bound to Purity Culture, so I was not sexually active, and was not really interested in *touching* things yet. I asked my boyfriend later on why he needed to touch it when he knows we won’t be having sex. He replied, “I don’t know.”

Plank: Sex acts are for others’ pleasure and boundaries are negotiable.

I “wasn’t like other girls.” I liked playing in nature for hours and getting sapped by the trees, hated playing with dolls, despised skirts and stockings and anything “frilly,” got along better with “the guys,” the purple/pink combo nauseated me (still does)…

I could go on and on, but I don’t want to detract from the main message of this article. Bottom line is, the more I learned to be a “girl” against my will and understanding, the longer I stayed naïve, and the more abuse I endured—and not just abuse from “men,” but from all people around me. Because after building this box around me, and adding layer after layer, I lost sight of who I was, and I lost my voice. When you don’t know who you are, you’re susceptible to being swayed one way or another a lot of the time (at least in my experience).

Add in a lot of neurodivergence, and the masks I kept having to wear to “fit in,” then got nailed onto my box and became who I was. There was no light getting through the cracks anymore for me to witness my true self. Chronic pain only muddled things further. I had next to no tools for communicating effectively, or for emotional regulation, or for loving my mind and body. I had no tools to take the nails out of my “self-made” coffin…I wanted to die.

Since I could no longer access Jaesic, I couldn’t see me getting older. I didn’t WANT to see me getting older. Even on my happiest days, I still wanted to die. I didn’t and couldn’t feel like ME. Coming out as nonbinary two years ago, and discovering my autism since, has been a painful yet liberating process of me finding the light within and bursting out of the coffin the world insisted that I build.

“Well it seems to me that your trauma is why you reject your gender.”

Oh honey, no. Now I’m not saying trauma can’t play a role in forming identity. It absolutely can and does, as us humans do not exist in a vacuum. The point is though, even IF trauma forces that “choice,” then that individual has always had the capacity to be more than their prescribed gender, or sexuality, or job, or literally anything. Again, us humans are pretty damn complex. So instead on focusing what lived experience may have contributed to a person’s new (to you) identity, let’s just see the person for who they are in the present moment and respect how they want to be addressed. If we can do that for cis people (when they get married, go by a new nickname, change jobs, attain higher education) then we absolutely can do the same for transgender people too.

I have always been ME. It just took me longer to figure that out because I was traumatized into being a girl for the first 25 years of my life. And that right there folks is why we need to support trans youth. Trans youth are under attack for just wanting (needing) to be who they are! And they are at greater risk for depression, considering suicide, and attempting suicide than their peers when they do not have the support they need. Learn what you can do to fight against unjust legislation in the U.S. There are many organizations that have resources available to you.

The simplest thing you can do for trans people, though? LISTEN, BELIEVE, and LET LIVE.


Exploring gender or sexuality? Remember, everything is at your own pace. And I can help! If you’d like to talk with someone about what you’re going through, I offer consulting services on a sliding scale. Please don’t hesitate to reach out through the contact tab on the main menu.  🥰

And soon I will be offering life coaching! Stay tuned!

“Are transgender and nonbinary synonymous?”

Short answer, yes. Long answer, no.

Well that’s confusing, so let’s dive deeper shall we?

Transgender is an umbrella term. What’s an umbrella term?

“An umbrella term, or a hypernym, is a word or phrase used to generally, rather than specifically, describe a group of varying but identifiably related subjects.”

Alicia Sparks at infobloom.com

Under the umbrella that is “transgender” we have the gender spectrum. Cisgender people exist on the polar ends of said spectrum, outside the transgender umbrella, though even this is being reworked a little (more on this in a bit). As the photo above depicts, there are two small umbrellas underneath the larger transgender umbrella, and those are “binary” and “nonbinary.”

In the binary category, we have transgender men and women. They are under the binary umbrella because trans men and women are just that, men and women. That’s the classic binary code of gender, 1 or 0.

In the nonbinary category, we have genderfluid, genderqueer, bigender, agender, demigirl, demiboy, neutrois, and more. The more people explore what gender means to them outside of the binary, the more terms we find to be fitting. This does not lessen the validity of binary genders (cis or trans), but instead expands our understanding of what gender is at large. Gender is a spectrum, after all (and it gets less linear everyday). The one thing I will point out in disagreement with the picture above, is that genderqueer is more of a synonym for transgender than it is an identity under the nonbinary umbrella. Genderqueer is often used as its own umbrella term, describing people’s “non-normative experience with their gender,” which can encompass anyone under the transgender umbrella, binary or nonbinary. In saying this, however, one can and many do use genderqueer as a stand-alone identity, often depicting their nonbinary gender.

To me, ‘genderqueer’ represents a queering of gender, so to speak. It’s a deliberate playing with gender in a very political sense, and being provocative around gender norms to highlight the gender stereotypes of our culture.

– Laura A. Jacobs, an LGBTQ+ psychotherapist in an interview with VICE

Are Nonbinary and Transgender Interchangeable?

They can be! Because transgender begets nonbinary (as in the umbrella model), many nonbinary folx use trans and nonbinary interchangeably, myself included. But many nonbinary people do not identify as trans, and that’s okay. It all comes down to individual preferences.

I am also now learning that “nonbinary” can be used to further qualify cisgender identity as in “I am a nonbinary woman,” which is where my aside from before comes back into the conversation. Despite normative rhetoric, we CAN be multiple genders. Us humans are beautiful in our complexity! When it comes to being nonbinary, an individual who identifies as such can also identify as bigender, poly-gender, or some other multiple-gender concept that includes their assigned gender at birth (AGAB) to be at least one of those identities, as is the case for the aforementioned nonbinary woman.

Many nonbinary folks may not be bothered by their assigned gender at birth and feel like it still describes them in some way so they don’t want to fully adopt the trans label.

– a queer Facebook commenter
  • Some nonbinary people will not claim trans for themselves because of internalized transphobia (whether they realize it or not).
  • Some nonbinary people will not claim trans for themselves due to not feeling “trans enough” (which, let me be clear, if you’re gender non-conforming in identity, and you want to be a part of the trans community, you ARE trans enough).
  • Some nonbinary people will not claim trans for themselves because they still identify with their AGAB as the quote above describes. This can be conflated with demigirl/boy identities.

For me, it depends on the situation. Sometimes it’s just easier to use trans as a shorthand, as I can feel vulnerable in getting specific about my gender identity. Sometimes I use trans for the shock value, as most people misgender me. “Trans” empowers me to stand in my identity because I feel the support of the whole community behind me when I use it (not that nonbinary doesn’t do that too, but most people know what trans is, whereas not everyone knows with nonbinary is). Other times nonbinary is more fitting because I feel too vulnerable saying trans in fear of being the recipient of transphobia, as if nonbinary is less in-your-face trans? That definitely plays into my own internalized transphobia, but the fear of external transphobia is real, and this is how my brain rationalizes things in order to deal with them.

Nonbinary is under the trans umbrella because it is rejecting the binary as we traditionally know it.

– Me, in my post Nonbinary and Me

I’ll admit now that “rejecting the binary” was not the best way to phrase things. Not all nonbinary people reject the binary, as bigender people exist, as well as genderqueer/genderfluid folx who play with gender within the binary. This is only amplified more when we consider nonbinary cisgendered people. To be transgender, then, is to participate within the gender binary in untraditional, counter-normative ways, with the possibility to reject the binary altogether.

Humans are WAY too complex for us to say anything in our lives is a paradox. “We contain multitudes.”

– same queer Facebook commenter

There is so much nuance when it comes to human identity and the words we use to describe ourselves. As time progresses, we’re relearning just how expansive humanity can be. We do not fit neatly into the same few boxes! And even when we do, those boxes are often subjected to change or overlap, over time.

So are transgender and nonbinary synonymous? It all comes down to the individual at hand, so always ask before you assume!

It’s time we stop pathologizing different neurotypes and get to the root of the problem: we all need individualized care.

Instead of putting the onus of “functionality” on the individual, we need to really evaluate how the systems we have in place (this capitalist, white supremacist, cisheteropatriarchy) put us all at disadvantages depending on the identities we hold. No two autistic people are the same, just as no two neurotypicals are the same.

Let’s start a conversation about what is actually needed: comprehensive universal healthcare and social infrastructure that evaluates the individual’s needs and accommodates appropriately. There is no such thing as a “high” or “low” functioning human. There are only humans who need a more accommodating/understanding/patient environment. Whatever “level” humans operate at, makes them just that—human. Functioning labels serve no one but those who feel the need to “organize” for hierarchy’s sake.

I consider myself disabled due to the combination of my chronic disease and neurodivergence (autism w/ADHD). This means that even though you’ll see me dancing and often “functioning” at the expected level in most social situations, there are days where I can barely get out of bed, let alone get to the store or talk with people in any meaningful way. Social and sensory triggers play a HUGE role in my “functionality,” on top of having a body that fights itself on a daily basis.

Not my words, but relatable AF

Autism is not a condition or disorder.

But it CAN be a disability when needs aren’t met. When the metric for disability is based in how an individual is able to “perform” socially, or independently, suddenly a whole lot of people are either “low functioning” or are able to mask super well which causes its own problems. It’s degrading. We are all worthy of love, dignity, and respect.

When it comes to disabilities that can only be accommodated for so far (from executive functioning issues to having seizures), we have the opportunity to see disability as a non-linear spectrum, as we see autism. Certain disabilities will put a person at a disadvantage compared to others in whatever environment. This is why it’s even more crucial that we have individualized care. And when accommodating for one disability impedes someone else with a different disability, a compromise must be reached.

We are humans of great capacity!

We literally have ALL the power to make our society inclusive and accommodating for *everyone*. We accommodate for everything we can, we do better when we learn better, and we interact with each other with dignity and respect. It all comes down to compassionate communication and individual needs (which is not to say similar needs can’t be serviced collectively, just that systems need to operate on a more personal level than they do now).

So why don’t we make this shift happen? Because the way things are now keep people poor and dependent and allows those in power to stay in power by exploiting others. We can start dismantling these awful structures by changing our language to be more compassionate and inclusive. Will you join me?

What is “high” and “low” functioning?

According to the levels in the DSM-5, high functioning people use spoken language to communicate, are more likely to manage the expectations of an academic setting, and more likely to be aware of social conventions. Basically, they are able to pass as “normal” or “typical” in most areas of life.

Low functioning people are described to look and sound different from their typical peers with their disability being more visually and orally obvious, and are less likely to engage in typical classes or activities.

Why is this a problem?

The “high functioning” or “low functioning” dichotomy came from eugenics (a movement aimed at selectively breeding desirable traits and out-breeding neurodiverse individuals [among other marginalized identities]). It is based off a person’s ability to produce capitalistic value or not which is inherently wrong.

The distinctions between low and high functioning individuals is artificial and not absolute. This is because autistic people behave differently in different situations and every individual has a range of strengths and challenges.

For example, a “high functioning” person who appears “normal” (or even exceptional) in a classroom may find it impossible to function at a party or concert. Meanwhile, a “low functioning” person who can’t use spoken language to communicate may be more than capable to lead an online conversation.

Why is this a problem?

Autistic people labelled as “high functioning” often receive less care and support from communities, peers, and medical professionals because they are deemed capable of functioning “normally” in society without assistance. This becomes an issue once they are no longer capable of functioning “normally” due to sensory overload or any other triggers. This idea also promotes the harmful and excessive use of “masking” where autistic individuals prevent themselves from stimming or a meltdown to maintain the expectations of a “high functioning” person.

On the other hand, autistic people labelled as “low functioning” are deemed of less value than their “high functioning” and neurotypical peers. They are often excluded and isolated from social circles, are underpaid, and denied workplace rights and healthcare rights.

What should we say instead of “high” and “low” functioning?

Nothing.

Focusing on people’s functioning gets us nowhere. Autistic people’s needs and experiences are too varied to fit into any dichotomy, no matter what you call it. The conversation should be focused on the amount of access to care rather than the amount they “function.” Obviously some people need more care and different forms of care than others but labelling autistic people on “high” and “low” functioning is the opposite of supportive.

Simply approach each autistic individual with an open mind and kind heart without forcing us into restrictive and demeaning boxes. 

Sources:

healthline.com/health/high-functioning-autism

http://spectrumnews.org/…/large-study-supports…/

http://autismawareness.com.au/…/why-we-should-stop…/

also a huge thank you to all my fellow peers from the autistic community for sharing your thoughts and opinions on this issue with me [heart emoji] -@safehaven.activists

Thanks to @safehaven.activists for the awesome info slides. Read my commentary here in High vs. Low Functioning Labels for Autism, Part 2.

Pride Month is on its way! In honor of the Stonewall Uprising in 1970, we celebrate the queer community and take pride in our identities throughout the month of June.

Last night I entered the contest “Color is Pride: True Colors” through vocal.media. The prompt:

“. . .express your pride in the diverse, amazing pieces of yourself. Submit a poem about something that makes you unique, no matter how big or small, and we want your poetry to be inspired by the idea of color—however you choose to interpret it.”


I am red.
I am red like the sea.
Like the pain in my knees.
Like the way I get when I scream.

I am orange.
I am mimosas and tea.
Effervescence. Serene.
I am laughs from deep in my belly.

I am yellow.
I am sunshine and bliss.
A moment. A kiss.
There’s nothing quite like this.

I am green.
I am nature’s design.
Even the guck and the grime.
Standing tall as a great pine.

I am blue.
I am blue like the ocean.
Calm. But waves often crash in.
An amusement ride of emotion.

I am purple.
I am purple like rain.
Royalty in my own name.
And I will never be the same.

This is Pride.


Fingers crossed it gets picked! Vocal.media will “be selecting 15 lucky winners for this Challenge; each of the 15 winners will receive a $2,000 prize and will get the opportunity to work directly with Moleskine on their Pride Month campaign throughout the month of June.”

Regardless of the outcome, I am proud and happy to have written a poem for the first time in years. Slowly but surely, I am piecing together my identity—keeping the things I like and shedding the rest that doesn’t serve me. I wrote constantly as a kid. Poems, lyrics, short stories; I never stopped. One of my first dream careers was to be an author of some sort. I lost sight of that over the years, but now look where I am!

I may not be a published author (yet) but I’m on my way back to writing all the time again. I love how the universe answers our dreams in such creative ways.

Zebras Unite!

Zebras? Why are we talking about zebras? I thought this was about your weird health condition, Jae?

I promise it will make sense by the end, keep reading!

This past March I was finally diagnosed with Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS, also known as EDS Type III). At once I felt validated but also angry, which then turned into a inner hollowness that was hard to shake. Why had it taken more than two decades to get me to this point? Years of pain and suffering to be told, at last, that something was actually wrong with me, despite all my normal lab tests and “can-do” attitude. My entire life, I have been treated like I’m crazy and lazy by people who were supposed to help me; I’ve been gaslit, dismissed, and condescended to. While misogyny definitely played its role in my missed diagnosis (and misdiagnoses), EDS is not well known by most physicians, despite its growing prevalence. At last I found the right professionals who took me seriously enough to look outside the box.

So what is EDS anyway?

so studious

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is actually a spectrum disorder, with 13 different subtypes. I happen to have the most common type, Hypermobile EDS or EDS Type III. According to the EDS Society (at ehlers-danlos.com), all of these subtypes are classified as connective tissue disorders “that can be inherited and are varied both in how they affect the body and in their genetic causes. They are generally characterized by joint hypermobility (joints that stretch further than normal), skin hyperextensibility (skin that can be stretched further than normal), and tissue fragility. . . Accurate estimates for the occurrence of hEDS are lacking, but a minimum of 1 in 5,000 people are thought to have EDS, 80–90% of which are cases of hEDS.” And yet, hEDS is the only subtype to not yet have its genetic marker (gene mutation) discovered.

“The best way to describe hEDS is as an autosomal dominant disorder influenced by age and gender with symptoms more common in females.”

– Ehlers-Danlos Society

In Claire Smith’s publication, “Understanding Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder,” she defines hEDS:

“by the association of generalized joint hypermobility, joint instability complications, widespread musculoskeletal pain, (minor) skin features and/or pelvic/rectal/uterine dysfunction. . .”

She continues to list other signs and symptoms:

  • chronic fatigue
  • acute and/or chronic pain, which is often widespread, with possibility for neuropathic pain
  • poor proprioception (your inherent understanding of where one’s body parts are in space)
  • reduced response to local anesthetic
  • functional gastrointestinal disorders, often associated with IBS or sluggish bowel
  • bladder over-activity and pelvic floor weakness
  • asthma-like symptoms
  • cardiovascular autonomic dysfunction
  • anxiety, phobic states, and depression
  • reduced mobility
  • earlier than ‘normal’ osteoarthritis
  • tethered cord and chiari malformation (brain tissue issues)
  • Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
  • sprains, subluxations, dislocations, tendon tears, disc prolapse, and skin that can stretch, scar, or bruise more easily are all more prevalent in EDS patients

This is a very truncated list, and it is not exhaustive either. More and more symptoms are being associated with this condition as people have been taking it more seriously in research, and as community members come together to relate to each other.

Essentially, my body does not produce collagen properly, which adversely affects my joints. My muscles are overworked from trying to hold all the pieces together. I haven’t quite researched enough to understand my comorbid conditions yet, but they’re often the source of most of my pain, discomfort, and disability. I experience different forms of pain and fatigue everyday of my life, usually without rhyme or reason to it. If I don’t exercise enough, I suffer. If I exercise too much, I suffer. I never get enough rest. I rarely feel hydrated. I can be fine eating an item one day, and the next it will make me sick. No position that I’m in—sitting, standing, lying down—is ever comfortable and usually brings me different forms of pain depending on the day.

This disease affects every aspect of my life, and has effectively rendered me disabled in one way or another (this will be its own post soon).

Now let’s take a quick look at my hEDS:

  • “growing pains” in my legs that didn’t stop when I was 10/11, which forced me to quit dance and contact sports, as well as landed me in a wheelchair for a few months at the end of 6th grade (have since subsided into only periodic episodes)
  • widespread musculoskeletal pain (considered to be fibromyalgia); acute and chronic depending on the day; myofascial related
  • neuropathic pain (pins and needles, tingling, numbness, electric “zaps” especially through to my hands)
  • episodes of muscle weakness, especially in upper body
  • chronic fatigue (often debilitating)
  • super soft skin when I was a child; at 27 my skin is still soft, but incredibly more stretchy and just hangs on my features, especially on my face; easy bruisability/fragility
  • stretch marks without weight gain
  • hypermobility in my shoulders and hips; complications with wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles
  • Snapping Hip Syndrome
  • poor proprioception (I have always been clumsy, run myself into doorframes and other things, constantly spill drinks on myself, the list goes on…)
  • pelvic flooring weakness (I have been mildly incontinent since childhood); pain
  • hyperflexible, though I’m not a contortionist
  • spina bifida (small hole in my spine)
  • cervical spine instability
  • flat feet
  • sleep disturbance (complicated by neurodivergence)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome; constipation/diarrhea
  • acid reflux
  • frequent bouts of nausea
  • depression/mood issues/anxiety (complicated by neurodivergence)
  • astigmatism, convergence insufficiency, and frequently dry eyes
  • painful menstruation cycle (pretty sure I have endometriosis but have not been diagnosed yet)
  • painful intercourse (not all the time, but enough to notice)
  • dysautonomia (poor “fight or flight” and “rest and digest” function)
  • poor temperature regulation
  • electrolyte abnormalities/dehydration (I literally have to take salt capsules; so far, not that effective)
  • headaches/migraines (complicated by neurodivergence)
  • complications with my TMJ (jaw joint and muscle): locking, popping, subluxation, pain, teeth grinding, temple headaches; I also clench my jaw like a fiend, but is not strictly hEDS related
  • fragile gums
  • swallowing difficulties
  • episodes of changes in speech
  • episodes of difficulty walking
  • brain fog (complicated by neurodivergence)
  • impaired immune response (until the last 2 years, I have gotten significantly ill with colds and flus for 2 months of the year on average)
  • MUSCLE SPASMS EVERYWHERE; ranging from benign and annoying to absolutely debilitating/painful
  • Mast Cell Activation Syndrome; incessant post-nasal drip, itchy throat and inner ear, hives, flushing

All this, in addition to athletically induced asthma and hypothyroidism.

Overwhelming much? Tell me about it.

It’s genuinely hard to keep track of all the crap my body and I have gone through over the years. I’m almost positive I’ve missed listing at least two things above, but memory is affected by this too (on top of the effects from trauma and neurodivergence). 🥴

At last! Zebras!

“In medicine, the term ‘zebra’ is used in reference to a rare disease or condition. Doctors are taught to assume that the simplest explanation is usually correct to avoid patients being misdiagnosed with rare illnesses. . .”

– ehlers-danlos.org

In the 1940s, medical researcher and professor Theodore Woodward coined the term “zebra” with the phrase, “When you hear hoofbeats behind you, don’t expect to see a zebra.”

But too often, doctors forget that “zebras” do actually exist. The zebra is the symbol of the EDS community because EDS is considered a rare condition. My symptoms have confused and confounded doctors, family, and myself since early childhood. Then EDS finds its way to me, and suddenly everything makes sense. ALL of my symptoms are related.

Even though there is no cure for this disease, just knowing how I am medically valid in my suffering has helped SO much for coping. Now I have new resources, community, and a curated medical team to rely on in order to figure out how best to manage my symptoms and still have good quality of life.

I am particularly grateful for my fellow zebras. For the first time in my life I feel fully seen and understood when it comes to my pain, daily struggles, and future fears. No two zebras have identical stripes, and no two EDS affected folk are the same. But when we come together online, seeing those shared similarities, being able to commiserate, and learn from each other has drastically improved my relationship with my condition, as well as my mental health (though admittedly sometimes seeing everyone’s issues does have the opposite effect, and I do have to step away for a bit).

A silver lining: I absolutely adore how the word for a group of zebras is “dazzle” because we definitely dazzle together.

Despite the dazzling, living with hEDS isn’t pretty.

I will say, however, that I am grateful for the perspective it’s given me over the years. My condition is a part of what’s taught me to have compassion for not just those who are hurting visibly, but also for those who might have something going on under the surface. After all, my hEDS is an invisible disease for the untrained eye. It’s also helped bring me to understand how pervasive ableism is in nearly all facets of society.

My hEDS does not define me, but it IS a lens through which I see and experience the world. I hold onto that fact throughout the bad days, and celebrate the good days when I can.

Stay tuned for Part 2: What in the Pain?

(CW/TW: abuse, su*c*de)

This post is in celebration of my “coming out” two years ago! (Yay!)

A friend reached out not too long ago asking about how I discovered the nonbinary label(s) that work for me, and what being nonbinary means to me. This was my response, with a little revision: 

Being nonbinary means everything to me. I feel like I’m finally home—like I’ve been lost in the woods my whole life, and then was magically found, given a bath, and now I can finally start living out what was supposed to be my original journey. It feels like a realignment to my truest self.

It wasn’t easy to come by. I fought through a very repressed childhood, living under the roof of two conservative, Christian, overprotective parents. I fought through oppressive, abusive intimate relationships. I fought through losing friends I thought would be around forever. And though I still suffer from some of that pain, it is easy to bear compared to how I used to feel. When I was shoved into the box that is “woman,” I never saw myself getting older, though I didn’t quite understand why. I literally could not see ME reflected back to myself in the mirror. I constantly wanted to die (don’t get me wrong, I still have suicidal ideation, but it’s more related to chronic pain than anything else now).

I felt broken.

I’ve never identified with the binary, not even as a young kid. It just didn’t make any sense.

All I wanted to do was play with the boys (they were easier to get along with), get dirty in the mud and climb trees, hated skirts and stockings, hated dolls, etc. Of course, I was referred to as just a tomboy. Then as I grew up, I was forced into this box of femininity that did NOT serve me. I never saw myself like I saw the other girls, and never felt like I belonged. The only time I’ve felt like I’ve belonged was when I got attention from men in college. It was not an intrinsic sense of belonging, but a contentment that came from seeing how I was being treated just like the other girls (hello trauma). So when nonbinary-ness crept into my life, it immediately struck a chord with me. Fast forward to the final straw where I broke up with my abusive boyfriend in 2019, and at last I could step into my authentic self.

Not every nonbinary person has to identify as trans to be nonbinary, but nonbinary IS under the trans umbrella.

Nonbinary is under the trans umbrella because it is rejecting the binary as we traditionally know it. For a while I was only comfortable with identifying as nonbinary/enby (thanks internalized transphobia). Then I moved onto just queer. Then I moved onto genderfluid, then genderqueer. And then agender hit me. That was when I started getting more accustomed to “trans.” I now identify as trans (and do so proudly), along with all the other terms I’ve already listed and more, but for the most part I am just a fluidly queer human. Honestly I would love to say to people, “My gender is human,” because that makes more sense to me.

I like to think of gender as a constellation. 

We are all just humans composed of our influences and innate desires. That being said, it took me a while to recognize the internalized misogyny which made me reject all things feminine after I came out. There are some parts of traditional femininity that I’ve liked in the past that I’m now slowly starting to pepper back into my identity. But I know I am NOT a woman, and I know I do NOT like most forms of femininity as I used to know them. 

Before my “transition,” I was never enough. Never enough for the people around me, but worst of all, never enough for myself.

I’ll reiterate: discovering how I am nonbinary allowed me to realign to my truest self, which is why transition above is in quotations. This realignment has given me the self-confidence and efficacy I had been lacking my whole life. Now I KNOW I am enough. And I finally have found the right people to keep around me, who tell me that I am enough and worthy of love, especially on the days when I slip behind and forget. 

Community is what brought me to myself. I was so lost, but every step I took out of my past, took me closer to the people who embrace themselves fully and fight for others’ right to do the same. These friends are mostly queer, outspoken, and never afraid to love the hate out of someone. They also know when to cut ties because boundaries are important. I found the language I was missing among these people. I also found language on the internet, but the people surrounding me were the ones who allowed me the safe space to try these words and identities on so I could find myself. This safe space I was provided is part of the reason I’m building this blog and hopefully further on, a center—I want to make that contribution too.

Gender is subjective; the binary as we know it is weak and dying.  

Everyday, more and more people are realizing that they can express themselves however they like across the spectrum and just be who they are, even in the face of adversity. One day I hope for a future that is, in essence, genderless. Where genitalia and “matched” or “mismatched” behavioral constructs do not matter, and only the expression of the individual will take precedent. I want a future where we can refer to each other in neutral terms until a closer relationship is developed—then pronouns etc. come into play. But for as long as we have discrimination and hate crimes against those who are not a part of the majority narrative, we will continue to need these labels and will continue to fight for validity in the eye of the “majority.” (Just as we will for race, sexuality, etc.) 

Anyway, that’s all to say, I love being nonbinary. I love being ME for the first time in my entire life. I love leaning masculine, if not being masculine in gender expression and identity. I also love being mysterious with my gender expression and confusing people. I love the performance of it all because I finally feel no confinement by it. Any attachment I have to gender is on MY terms, not others’. I am SO FLUID with my feels. Somedays I feel like I’m ALL the genders at once, and other days I feel like I’m not any. I also go in between, feel two solid genders at once, or slide up and down the spectrum several times throughout a day or many days.

For once, I feel valid and completely free. 

Of course it gets harder to stay that way when others (like my parents, or just the world at large) don’t understand or try to push me back into boxes that I don’t belong in. But, I take those days in stride, and rely on my support network to have my back.

Some days I get angry that it took me so long to get to this point. But I just keep reminding myself:

Time spent growing into our authentic selves will never be time wasted. 


For those exploring gender, remember, everything is at your own pace. 

You could read this and have nothing resonate, or you could feel that resonation, but not want to do anything with it, and that’s okay. But if you’re truly starting to feel uncomfortable with what you’ve always known and grown into, maybe it’s time to explore more what gender means to you.

I’m so excited for your continued journey into who you may come to be! That being said, I offer consultation services on a sliding scale. If you would like to explore gender and sexuality with someone, please don’t hesitate to reach out through the contact tab on the main menu. 

Disclaimer: I kept body dysphoria out of this post because (for me) it is intertwined with trauma, and that deserves its own post. Stay tuned! I will state, however, that body dysphoria is not a prerequisite to being trans or nonbinary.