I just uploaded the final 2 episodes of a podcast I made. You should go listen to them! Especially if you are a straight or cis person who wants to learn more about supporting LGBTQ+ people.
What was I thinking when I made this podcast??
Two years ago I made an emotional Facebook post announcing that I wanted to go by different pronouns. I was already “Out”, but I was ready to try using “she” instead of “they” pronouns. I also wanted to update my nouns, and to explain some pretty complex feelings. It went over well–I got a lot of support from my friends and family.
I also got a comment from one of my grade school teachers, who asked if I could share any ideas on how to make the classroom more safe and inviting for LGBT students. This was Julie Lloyd Henderson, one of my all-time favorite teachers, so I was more than happy to help. And I had a wild idea: What if we recorded all of our conversations, so more teachers and parents out there could learn from them?
So we did that. In the course of 6 episodes, we were also able to interview Sofia Scott about being in a Drag Punk band and teaching Rock ‘N Roll Camp for Girls. We sat down with Rose Nelson (a.k.a. matttherat) of the Wanting to Die Poetry Club, and even had a conversation with my Mom. We lost many hours of audio because I had forgotten to press record or check for space on SD cards–so, tragically, only the interview with Sofia survived production. It was a wild ride. Finally, I sat down one-on-one with my thesis advisor, Christie Toth, to talk about the project, and also how she plans to raise the baby she’s having. I’m writing this post to give credit to everyone who helped me on this journey, and to also touch on some subjects I never got to in the podcast.
Folks Who Talked With Me
- Julie Lloyd Henderson
- Jim Henderson
- Sofia Scott
- Rose Nelson
- Laura Quayle Nelson
- Christie Toth
(Many apologies to everyone who gave their time only to have the recordings get lost. Sad.)
Folks Who Helped in Other Ways
- Trent Nelson - for letting me use his recorders, and doing the photos/design for the podcast logo.
I couldn’t have done this project alone.
This podcast is my Honors Thesis as a Writing and Rhetoric student at the University of Utah. So the whole point of it was to learn things… and that’s where it gets messy. They say that by teaching other people you can’t help but learn things yourself. With this podcast I was trying to teach everything I know about gender and the ways we can make the world better for folks who aren’t cis. It was a lot to cover and I wanted to be as clear as possible. I didn’t learn much new about gender or education or communication, to be honest. Only how hard it is to convey queer theory in approachable terms, and how emotionally draining it is to talk about personal experience as a queer person.
I learned a lot about making podcasts, though. Mainly: Planning, recording, and editing is not a one-person job. I should not have chosen this format for the project. But hey, it sort of worked out.
Topics I missed/Am still thinking about
Whenever I try to explain queer stuff to straight/cis people, I feel pressure not to be a downer. To show them that “it’s not that bad” or “The world is getting better”. I think the culture I was raised in is so focused on being nice, on making sure the people around you never feel the slightest bit uncomfortable, that this is the only way difficult subjects are usually tolerated. I had at least one deeply negative thought while making this show, which I never found the right time to voice:
I announced Two Transitions to a live audience at a local event called Transgiving (which is always amazing). The morning before that happened, though–I was terribly anxious that someone could bring a gun into a venue full of my queer friends and start shooting us. This was a realistic scenario to be afraid of.
I don’t think anyone should ever feel that way. The threat of violence against trans people is real and terrifying, especially trans women of color. So when I start to feel obligated to reassure a cis person that “Things are getting better” I try to remind myself: I don’t care how accepting mainstream society becomes on small things like pronouns and marriage equality. Until we can no longer compile a list of people who were murdered because of their gender identity, our society is unforgivable. Stop looking for forgiveness, and try solving problems instead.
Empowering Others By “Being Yourself”
I figured out pretty quickly that as much as I felt I was doing important work with the podcast… I really hate being an activist. It’s exhausting and not fun. If I can reform any part of the educational system to make a young trans person’s life better, I’ll be happy and proud. But it’s not my job. I will probably spend most of my life’s time and energy on creative pursuits that bring me joy. The work that I’ve done writing essays and fiction with queer characters and themes, I would choose any day. And every once in a while someone tells me “Hey, that thing you wrote was really cool. I felt seen. Please do more.” I still think it’s much more impactful to fix systems (like education) than to help individuals, but it sure is tempting to think I could do more good by doing what I love than by sacrificing time and energy for the greater good.
Ask me how I feel about this project in 5 years. Until then, I won’t have any clue. But hey, I did it, and you can listen to it.