May 31, 2022
10 mins read
My darlings, I've got an update that many of you have seen coming for miles and miles, a handful of you have been thoroughly debriefed on, and others might find a little surprising.
You might think it's silly at the moment that I'm already giving you a gentle reminder that what I'm sharing is good news. Please take a nice deep breath and remember that. I'm sharing good news.
I think it's more important than ever to nurture our practices for creating more safety and possibility and delight for each other - in our families and communities, with our various friends, the wonderful weirdos who somehow get our humor and make art that we're curious or passionate to engage with, the people who show up because we need them, the people whose kids play with our kids at the playground, the babies who let us make faces at them.
We need to learn and relearn to get better at protecting each other. We need to better protect each other's capacity for growth. We need to undo / resist / disarm any traditions or cultural habits that punish people for existing. We need to protect each other without making each other feel ashamed to exist. It sounds obvious, I hope, but it takes a lot of practice, even if you have the knack. Showing up for the people within our various sorts of reach, acknowledging each other's struggles, and making each other's loads a little lighter... these are my favorite sort of thing. And I still need to remember to do more. I think most of us probably do.
It can also take a little practice to express appreciation for a loved one's happiness and wellbeing, when you don't quite understand what underpins their ability to thrive and survive and grow stronger. I'm asking some of you to do this, because I love you. I'm not evangelizing, lol. I just want to say a few things about one particularly refreshing area of growth in my life that has made surviving beyond recent traumas into a wholesome and playful adventure, that somehow is making light of the work of imagining and welcoming more tolerable possible futures -- a trick in seeing glimmers of potential outcomes that (compared to what seems to already be within the scope of possibility) are slightly more mutually agreeable and delightful for everyone involved, particularly whomever is most affected, and tilting towards those better-than-seems-possible outcomes just so when there happens to be momentum. Part of the trick is in remaining open to seeing delightful possibilities you haven't previously considered, and when you can help it, not getting overly-invested in particular outcomes. It's the openhearted curiosity, the tilting, the nudges towards humane improvements that we all benefit from exercising.
So. If you're in the right frame of mind for that sort of thing, keep reading.
Even though I've chosen to share happy news via the internet, I trust my friends and loved ones will receive it with graceful courtesy and express happiness for my happiness. That's all I can muster for a disclaimer. Rudeness won't be tolerated. If you find yourself in a state of confusion or discomfort as you process my news, that's understandable and also none of my business.
An important truth about myself only became thoroughly clear to me within the past few years, but I've known and had strong feelings (to put it mildly) about it my entire life. I was brokenhearted, sad, angry and dysphoric.
When I was a toddler who favored hardware store trips, toy trucks, Mr T, robots, etc... I knew I was <<a boy>> or perhaps <<a boy and a girl>> but definitely not <<a girl>>
Quickly, I learned that it was unacceptable to assert that. As a hyperverbal child, I figured out it was better to contain the truth about myself safely away from the reach of my words.
I decided to "forget" and it only sort of worked. I tried my best to be a girl, forever. I didn't understand how <<doing gender correctly>> came easily to anyone. I became a vocal feminist before the age of ten, because I was frequently angry about gender segregation and being subject to certain rules/dress codes/ behavioral expectations based on assumptions around binary gender.
I was often told I could do or achieve anything boys could. This was neither entirely true (ie dress codes, future workplace misogyny, etc...) nor was it ever the validation I was after.
My long-term coping mechanism for gender dysphoria had a lot of overlap with the neurodivergent experience of alexithymia. In my case I was adept at using descriptive language for anyone's emotional states, including my own, but often incapable of saying why I had strong or complicated feelings when I did. I assumed my reasons were unknowable.
I knew what my strong feelings were, but couldn't access words to explain why (for example) I was so sad and angry about little things that didn't seem to bother everyone else, or why it felt like the answer should be obvious.
Being unable to say why I had strong feelings also interfered with my ability to say clearly what I want. It interfered with my ability to articulate and hold boundaries effectively.
So I played a very long-running and frustrating game of hide and seek with myself. I studied literature, pop culture psychology, theatre. I learned to un-riddle other people with curiosity and affection.
When I finally had a eureka moment, a couple of years back... I knew all at once, "Oh, I'm a boy."
A flood of memories from before I was two all the way up through my adult life, memories I hadn't understood why I'd held onto, made sense all at once as my lifelong experience of gender dysphoria.
More memories flooded back over the course of a few days. I've asked myself a lot of questions since then. I've learned a lot about who I am, how I function, and how I communicate.
Once I could reach it with language, my certainty about my gender hasn't wavered.
I'm transmasculine, nonbinary and queer.
My gender isn't up for debate.
The correct pronouns to use for me are: they, them, theirs, he, him, his.
The name "Sparrow" started out as a placeholder but it's grown on me. If we see each other or exchange messages, "Sparrow" is the right name to use for me. If I'm in your contacts, please update my name there to help you remember.
I'm transmasculine, nonbinary and queer.
Nobody is required to understand that thoroughly. Whoever would like to continue to be in contact with me, will quickly get up to speed with naming and gendering me correctly to make that possible.
If you make a mistake, please correct yourself quickly and without long apologies. I will not entertain requests to refer to me incorrectly until you get the hang of it.
To be clear, if you are speaking to me or about me, my name is Sparrow. If you have difficulty using the singular "they" pronoun, feel free to practice on me to become more fluent.
"He" also suits me fine.
So, two examples of naming and gendering me correctly:
"When Sparrow realized they were transmasculine, their health improved and they became better at asserting clear boundaries."
"Sparrow will return with vegan snacks after he picks up his kids."
Once you believe me thoroughly, you'll get the hang of it.
It's not difficult to see me as I am unless you have some hangups to work through.
Most of us have had or will have some gender-related hangups to unlearn. We've all learned harmful, incorrect propaganda about gender expression and safety because our cultures have too many elements that are increasingly hostile to trans existence, and alarmingly favorable to abuse and fascism.
(This isn't a stretch or a joke.)
The more our communities can shake off limiting beliefs about each other's capacity for vibrantly unique self expression, the more we can keep ourselves and each other safe, the more resilient we become against coercive strategies that rely on shame and humiliation.
I've been becoming more visible gradually. It's allowed me to process my joy at self-realization and use it to protect myself and my kids, giving me the clarity to remove us from an abusive situation. It's allowed me to continue growing stronger through several recent stressful challenges.
Anti-trans propaganda is widespread and dangerous. I know some people who will eventually come around to being respectful might first lash out in harmful ways. And I expect that at least a few people I love are so thoroughly under the sway of anti-trans propaganda, that they'll remove themselves from my life.
I've been easing my way into visibility before coming out explicitly, publicly... as a sort of final act of prioritizing other people's comfort over my well-being and self expression. I'm still highly capable and willing to engage in interpersonal diplomacy, as needed, but diplomacy requires mutually courteous and respectful terms of engagement.
I've procrastinated with this coming out post because I'm not eager to find out which loved ones might double down on harmfully transphobic assumptions instead of recognizing my growth and well-being as wholesome, important, delightful.
Grappling with my shadows led me to understand that the thing I've been afraid to let show at the core of my identity is a source of sunshine. Coming to understand that I'm trans has unlocked the best of my heart stuff. I'm proud to be trans. I'm happy to be exactly who I am.
The only difficulties related to being trans boil down to:
1. Cisgender nonsense
2. Self-appointed gatekeepers of gender.
I don't mean to minimize the scope and impact of either one of those, because both are too widespread, too harmful, too empowering for dangerous abusers, and too infrequently and insufficiently challenged. If you're inclined to worry that being visibly trans puts me and my family, and other trans people and trans families at risk, you can do your part to protect our safety by addressing me respectfully, by believing whoever comes out to you because you trust each individual person to be the expert of their self experience, and by shutting down any disrespect and discrimination related to 1. & 2. above, within your power.
So, that's that. I'm Sparrow. I'm transmasculine and nonbinary. I've always been sincerely myself, but for much too long I was afraid to know-with-words something essential at my core. It was just a little sunshine.
A few of you expert procrastinators may be wondering what finally lit the fire under my butt to post this on Memorial Day 2022. I borrowed a little urgency from a fundraiser I need to publish ASAP, as tonight's post provides some helpful context for that.
More on that, very soon. Unless I happen to unexpectedly sell a few thousand of these stickers, or otherwise happen upon an unexpected pile of cash, that urgent fundraiser will go live within the next day or so. Contributing, boosting and/or sharing that will be much appreciated.
Of course, I also won't stop you from ordering as many thousand of these stickers as you like.