Tell Us As You Write Your Story: What You Know and Can Act On
We’re taught early on to write essays based on what we know: Make a simple thesis, find several pieces of evidence to support it or make several logical arguments in its favor, and write an introduction and conclusion around it. This structure is predictable—and it can be boring. It sometimes glides over observations that would add complexity.
Our knowledge can be complex, in part because we’re able to see the same question from different sides.
Years ago, one of my writing teachers, explaining how to write an essay, lifted his hand as if he were holding a jewel. “Turn it in your hand,” he counseled, as if a brilliantly multi-faceted argument could catch the light. You can polish your message with that intent. It doesn’t have to be flat. It’s often better when it’s designed to be looked at from multiple angles.
Knowing My Gender as a Trans Person
We know something about the gender we’re asserting. From the outset, we usually have a basic sense of whether we have (or want) a male or female body, if we’re a man or woman, and consequently if we’re cis or trans, as well as if we’re gay or straight. People who don’t fit these binaries often know that they don’t fit them. There can be big unknowns, but I think most of us who say we’re trans are claiming at least some kind of self-knowledge and not a complete unknowing.
Based on our self-knowledge, some people—especially those of us who are authors or creatives—create a personal brand to surround ourselves and amplify our presence and our work. A personal brand has to reflect our personality and values. I know I can’t adopt a personal brand based on, for example, religious beliefs that aren’t mine. If I were a different person, I could have that brand; I know I’m me, so I can’t.
Our gender is kind of like a personal brand. We can experiment and customize our presentation to serve our needs, but we can’t choose to be an entirely different person. Where we draw the line is up to us.