Nonbinary: A Woman’s Experience

Two facts: I am Trans, and two weeks ago, I started a new job. New jobs by themselves can be daunting, but I think that there is an extra layer when you add being Trans or even just part of the LGBTQ community to that experience. I am lucky that my job supports me being nonbinary and I have my pronouns on my badge. This is still way ahead of what most Trans folks can do at their work. As most employers say that it is distracting to have your pronouns on your badge and tedious for them to have to spend five measly minutes making you a new name for your badge.

And I can only speak for customer service jobs here, but I believe most large companies think this way as well. That if you are unique or different, or need any accommodation at all, you are suddenly a burden to your employer. And this is not just about LGBTQ issues but with the disabled as well. Workers all over this country are still penalized or fired by their workplaces for being disabled or having a connection to the LGBTQ community.

I am also a nonbinary trans person, and so my experience at work is going to be different than a binary trans person. For them, they change their name typically to a conventional boy(TM) or girl(TM) name, and the opposite pronouns and suddenly (unless you live in the south) everyone understands and goes along with the transition. While, my pronouns are They/them, and while my name is pronounced as “Ryan” it is spelled like “Rhian” just to add that sprinkle of difficulty. No, I really chose that because it sounded both masculine and the spelling was feminine, so they represent both, just like I represent both, neither, or in the middle. I am the middle ground, and I just want people to meet me there.

My first week I was stocking shelves and I had an older man say, “Watcha doing?” and I said, “Just stocking some Gatorade, it’s hot out there!” And he followed this up by saying, “Wow, they let you stock too? Very impressive young lady. Good job.” and he carried on his way. One, it was a sexist comment saying that looking like a woman it was “impressive” that I was stocking shelves, and two, I was misgendered. But comments like those reinforce something that I feel every day when I don’t “pass” as nonbinary in society and instead “pass” as a woman. I might be nonbinary but my experience in society is still a women’s experience. I’m still asked about whether I’m planning my wedding every chance people get, I am still asked what “I” cook for my fiance, and in the past, I am always considered less skilled and underpaid than all my male peers. Even, if we have worked there the same amount of time.

I think this is what enforces my beliefs in feminism and holds myself true to my past experiences as they relate to my present. Even though I am nonbinary, If I ever decide to go on testosterone, and get top surgery, I will suddenly look like a white male. The epitome of privilege. And this feeling will be foreign to me. Because I will be treated with respect. But while they hurt me, experiences like these are important. Because I can take them with me and continue to treat everyone exactly as I want to be treated, and encourage others to do the same.

These videos are pretty good ones related to Being Feminist and talking about TERFS and their exclusion of Transgender folks.

Thank you for reading and I’ll talk to you soon.

Love, Rhian.

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