I would like to give a great big warm RGR welcome to J.S. Fields for stopping by today for the first interview of RGR’s Trans Aware Event. Thank you J.S. for taking time out of your schedule to answer a few questions about trans being a diverse community.
~What does Transgender mean to you?
I think trans is very simply, to move away from. A transgender person has moved from their assigned gender to somewhere else, whether to the other end of the binary, or somewhere in between. Much like asexuality, I think trans is a huge umbrella word that encompasses a beautiful, diverse group of people who have all varied from their birth gender assignments.
~You are trans nonbinary. Would you tell us a little more as to what the entails?
Nonbinary is another one of those umbrella words that means different things to different people. If you look at gender as a sort of spectrum, with the binary genders on either end, there is that huge vastness between them, and that is the world of nonbinary genders. That also means there are hundreds if not thousands of places where one could fall along this spectrum, from agender to transmasculine, transfeminine, gender fluid, etc. The word itself, nonbinary, is still relatively new as well, so is still being defined and shaped by the new generation. For me specifically, it is nice to have a word that takes care of modifiers we used to have to put on our sexuality. Back in the 80s and 90s, if you were gay or lesbian, then you had modifiers for gender. And ‘moderately-butch-but-not-all-the-time lesbian’ is a mouthful, and not really all that accurate. Being nonbinary takes the need for all those extra words away, and tells someone, very succinctly, that you fall between genders.
~What are a few rude or inappropriate comments you have gotten?
I wish I had something new to report here, but generally I get the usual “there are only two genders”, “I think you’re just confused”, “have you prayed about it”, and my favorite, “have you thought about hormone therapy (to make me more feminine, not to help with dysphoria)?” Most comments stem from ignorance, not necessarily malice, so they don’t bother me as much as someone driving by and screaming ‘dyke’ out the window, which used to happen with some regularity when I was living in the midwest of the USA. I think the idea of trans nonbinary is so new that people haven’t quite gotten enough hold of it to be angry, yet.
~How did your friends and family handle it? Were they supportive?
Coming out as nonbinary was almost seamless. I don’t know if that is because I’m older, and have been out about being queer since late high school, or because I currently live in Oregon, USA, where nonbinary is legally recognized as a gender (you can even get that gender marker on your driver’s license!). My friends were happy for me, my family was unfazed. I got lucky. The hardest part has been at work. I am in a traditionally white male dominated field, so the concept of a nonbinary gender, of different pronouns, that’s been a bit more of a hurdle. They’re getting there, it’s just a slow process.
~Have you documented your journey?
I have not officially, but if you read carefully you can see the evolution of my thinking and comfort with nonbinary genders in my fiction writing. What started in the first Ardulum book as a desire to include nonbinary characters slowly blossomed over the three book series to nonbinary POV characters, and now my work in progress is an ownvoices nonbinary main character. I used writing to try out gender expression and interaction, and that helped me better integrate into the real world as a nonbinary person.
~What struggles beyond discrimination and threats does the trans community face?
Understanding is the biggest hurdle. It’s so exhausting to have to explain who you are every time you meet someone new, and even the best of intentioned questions can drain you after a while. The more mainstream trans becomes, however, and the more the youth of today embrace trans identifies of all forms, the more people are starting to open their eyes. I hope that in twenty years, trans is as well understood as being lesbian or gay, and that we can move from the questions to the more gentle “hey, my neighbors are gay. Cool!” type of reaction.
~As an ally what do you want them to tell someone that says “I just don’t get it?”
If you have the time and the inclination, explaining transgender identity really only takes about five minutes. Offer to buy the person a coffee and sit and talk with them. Draw a little line with male on one end, female on the other. Talk about gender versus sex, and how the brain and genitals don’t always match. Talk about what falls between male and female. People in marginalized communities rely on allies to do the emotional labor when we ourselves are too exhausted to do any more. And sometimes, people listen better to other people just like them. So if you have the time and the bandwidth, consider just spending time with someone who ‘doesn’t get it’, and taking that time to explain, simply, that trans people are just people, and that we’re all a little different in some way or another.
Adult science fiction (space opera). Slow burn romance over the course of the three book series. f/f
The planet that vanishes.
The planet that sleeps.
Neek makes a living piloting the dilapidated tramp transport, Mercy’s Pledge, and smuggling questionable goods across systems blessed with peace and prosperity. She gets by—but only just. In her dreams, she is still haunted by thoughts of Ardulum, the traveling planet that, long ago, visited her homeworld. The Ardulans brought with them agriculture, art, interstellar technology…and then disappeared without a trace, leaving Neek’s people to worship them as gods. Neek does not believe—and has paid dearly for it with an exile from her home for her heretical views. Yet, when the crew stumbles into an armed confrontation between the sheriffs of the Charted Systems and an unknown species, fate deals Neek an unexpected hand in the form of a slave girl—a child whose ability to telepathically manipulate cellulose is reminiscent of that of an Ardulan god. Forced to reconcile her beliefs, Neek chooses to protect her, but is the child the key to her salvation, or will she lead them all to their deaths?
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J.S. Fields is a scientist who has perhaps spent too much time around organic solvents. She enjoys roller derby, woodturning, making chainmail by hand, and cultivating fungi in the backs of minivans. Nonbinary, but prefers female pronouns Always up for a Twitter chat.