What I Want For Validity

The week before I wrote this poem I was having a discussion with my mother about how I presented my gender online. She was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to make it as an agender person in the workforce and the world. When the weekend began, I went to the West Coast LGBTQ and Ally Teen Shabbaton, where I was finally able to be in a space with multiple nonbinary and transgender Jewish teens. In previous instances when I was in spaces where I could state my pronouns, I had always put “she/her” and “ze/hir” because I felt that even though I identified with it ze/hir pronouns more, other people did not see them as valid. At the Shabbaton I was also able to meet Rabbi Becky Silverstein who suggested to me that I try just introducing myself with just the ze/hir pronoun, which seemed like a revolutionary concept to me. When I tried doing so, I began to feel more like myself. Though it’s a slow process, I am trying to live more authentically in whatever ways I can.

I said I didn’t
want to fight
over what I was called,
whether it be
ze or she.
.
I said so
knowing that
if people don’t respect
“they”
why would they
respect
“ze.”
.
~
.
Yesterday I was asked
if this was a new thing
for us to start
making up pronouns.
Did I make up
these pronouns
to feel special?
.
People say
there is no
precedent.
How should I expect
to be respected?
.
That’s what visibility
does to people.
Shows them a perspective
they’ve never seen before.
To them it’s new,
but it is
by no means new.
I didn’t
make it up.
.
~
.
I know what I like
I know what makes me
comfortable.
Mostly,
it’s about a name.
It’s about
what matters to me.
.
But what is also mattering
is what others are saying about me.
I currently really like “ze,”
and “she” is starting
to feel wrong.
But that’s not (always) respected.
.
I’m told to be
respectable.
Since I was brought up
as a little girl
I was told
not to push the envelope
too much.
I was told to conform.
But conforming
doesn’t make me
happy
anymore.
.
~
.
For you it’s new
and uncomfortable.
But for me,
it’s even more uncomfortable
when I feel
disrespected
by those I imbued
with the knowledge of
the opinions
and identity
that make me
disrespectable.
.
When they tell me
I am invalid
and won’t be able to make it
in society,
it hurts.
But as it isn’t new
and there are those
that came before me,
that made it,
I know that I
can make it.
.
Even if I live
authentically
as a ze
or however I may
choose to be.

Like this post? 

Discover More

The Complex Nature of Intersectionality

Writer Erika K. Davis reflects on the Chicago Dyke March and provides perspective as a Queer Jew of Color.

Ruth… In Other Words

Last summer, when I joined Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel (ASBI), the local Modern Orthodox synagogue in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, I discovered ...

Ask the Expert: Can I Use the Ocean as a Mikveh?

Ritual immersion in a natural body of water.