A Letter From an Editor
On January 20, I, along with a dozen other members of FemCo and several thousand residents of the Boston area gathered in the Cambridge Common in support of women’s rights for the 2018 Women’s March. Besides the abundance of pussy hats, punchy signs, and the general diversity of the event, what struck me most was the range of ages represented. As I walked to the Common three generations of a family—a grandmother, mother, and young child—marched alongside me. At the rally, my “Proud Feminist” sign and I received countless nods and smiles from women my mother’s age or older. The highlight, though, was when I witnessed four girls around the age of ten climb up on trash cans at the back of the Common. They led a large crowd in chants like “My body, my choice” and “No hate! No fear! Immigrants are welcome here!” The necessity of young people participating in movements like this one cannot be overstated. Thus, it is fitting that this issue of That’s What She Said features the work of only underclassmen. Enjoy!
The 2018 Golden Globe Awards
I am sure almost everyone has either watched, discussed, or at least heard of the feminist activism displayed at the 75th Golden Globe Awards broadcasted on January 7, 2018. Not only did many notable actors wear all-black ensembles in support of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements that bring light to sexual assault, but Oprah Winfrey also delivered a compelling speech upon becoming the first black woman to receive the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.
I could not help but notice that among these influential demonstrations persisted a sense of hypocrisy, as James Franco, an actor recently accused of inappropriate and sexually exploitative behavior, won the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. Additionally, although allegations did not surface until after winning the award, Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy winner Aziz Ansar has been accused of sexual misconduct with a woman whom he brought on a date in September. Furthermore, the group of nominees for Best Director in a Motion Picture was entirely male for the thirty-third year in a row.
While I do believe that the Golden Globes epitomized influential figures utilizing their power to bring attention to women’s issues, the celebration of actors like James Franco and Aziz Ansari only counteracted that positive use of power. While we as viewers, as well as the actors who attend award shows such as the Golden Globes, do not possess the ability to decide the winners of these awards, we can and should call out what is morally wrong to raise awareness of the discrimination and oppression within the film industry.
In order to ensure that we can make a difference we need to promote activism in our day-to-day lives. By simply ceasing to spend money on movies that either star or are directed/produced by people accused of sexual misconduct, we can prevent these individuals from gaining popularity. This can help guarantee that the winners of prestigious awards will exclude those who perform these crimes. In addition, we must continue to encourage everyone to speak up about sexual assault to put an end to the normalization of such horrendous actions. Time’s up for society to learn the importance of accountability.
More Than Just a Subject
The first words that greet me in the morning,
The last words that I hear at night.
Words that sound like a slap to the face telling me off,
And words that are like silk blankets against my skin,
The language that my grandmother has known her entire life,
the same words she used to raise my mother,
the same words my mother used to raise me.
The singing and dancing of passionate artists,
The colors that people proudly wear,
The winds that blow through mountains and rainforests,
The pounding of millions of hearts.
The same language that people hold on their tongues, and close to their hearts.
It’s the language we hear in songs now,
And yet it is the same language, same accent,
that people are mocked for.
It’s the language that you learn at school,
Yet you avoid learning about the culture behind it.
The language that nobody takes seriously anymore.
Growing into my gender Identity
Growing up I never thought about my gender. My wardrobe was full of graphic tees from the boy’s section of Target and Under Armour shirts that said things like “I will never quit” or “not braggin’ just swaggin’” (yes, I actually had both of those shirts). My toys were mainly Nerf guns. All of my friends were boys, and I fit right in with them. Everything they did I did right alongside them. This never made me think about being something other than a girl—I was just me. That was just how things were; I was content with being a “tomboy.”
Often times trans people say they knew they were trans since they were young. It was different for me. I had no idea what transgender was for a while, actually. One day I was in Target, looking at the magazines near the checkout area. One of the magazines had a headline that read “Her Journey From Male to Female.” I was confused, so when I got in the car I asked my mom what that meant. She explained to me what transgender was, and then asked me, “you would tell me if you wanted to be a boy, right?”
I remember feeling a little awkward because I thought maybe dressing and acting the way I did meant I was a boy. The thought was confusing and stressful, so I just nodded. I was young, so it wasn’t long before I moved on and forgot about the whole thing.
The memory of the magazine and that conversation came back to me a few years later, right after I cut my hair. In the past, every time I had gotten a haircut I would get it shorter and shorter—ultimately trying to achieve what I had always wanted: a pixie cut. Late in 4th grade my mom finally said yes. It was an in the moment kind of thing, so we did a walk in at a mall salon. I remember showing the hairdresser a picture of Megan Rapine, my favorite soccer player who had the pixie cut I wanted.
Walking out of the hair salon was huge for me. I felt so comfortable with myself and I was happier than ever. I felt nothing but positivity about it until I went back to school. I was teased, and received a lot of negative feedback. One girl asked me a question that changed who I was for the next three years. She asked me if I thought I wanted to be a boy.
I had no idea how to react; I had never considered it. I didn’t respond to her, but I thought about her question. A lot.
After that, I noticed more and more how people used male pronouns for me and thought I was a boy. None of this really bothered or mattered to me. Nonetheless, all I could think about was judgement from others.
I subsequently went to Justice (it was in at the time) and bought dresses, skirts, and other traditionally feminine clothes. I started dressing feminine, acting feminine, and drifted from most of my guy friends. From 5th grade to mid 7th grade I tried incredibly hard to fit in and be like the other girls. It always felt a little off, but I never truly knew why. It just didn’t feel like me—because it wasn’t.
This started to change in 7th grade. I was on a trip to Pennsylvania for field hockey. My sister was playing at a complex called Spooky Nook. There was a large store inside the sports complex, so I went shopping with my mom. I found a snapback hat that had the Spooky Nook logo on it, and I bought it. I put it on and I felt reminded of when I was younger and would steal my friends’ older brothers’ hats and wear them around. It felt nice; I felt masculine again.
Throughout the trip I continued to wear the hat, eventually digging through my suitcase to find more gender neutral clothes. I didn’t know why all of these feelings had suddenly surfaced, but I was not going to push them away like I did in 4th grade. This time, I was open to exploring what it meant.
I had seen non-binary and transgender people on Instagram, so I thought maybe I could be non-binary. I talked to my best friend, Z, and told her how I was feeling about my gender. She was supportive right off the bat, which I needed. After getting home from the trip I started going through my closet to find my old masculine clothes to see if anything fit me. Luckily, some of it did. I also started to buy more gender neutral and masculine clothing. My style started to change, and so did my sense of identity. I no longer knew who I was. I never truly did, but I at least I had believed I did. Now I was lost.
Being in 7th grade and discovering you aren’t cisgender is not easy. I asked Z if she could help me experiment with pronouns. I began going by they/them, and even though it was better than female pronouns, it still didn’t feel right. I remember the day I asked her to use male pronouns for me. She did, and suddenly everything felt right. Even though only my two best friends used those pronouns, it made a huge difference. I realized I was trans.
It took me a few months to really come out and admit not only to my friends, but to myself, that I was transgender. I was scared. I didn’t know how people would react and I had no idea how to tell my family.
In the summer of 2016 I came out to my mom. From there, everything changed. Since then there have been countless discussions with family, friends, doctors, therapists, and teachers. I stayed closeted at my school in 8th grade, but more and more of my friends knew and accepted me.
The more people that saw me as a boy, the more comfortable I felt with myself. I am in no way saying I didn’t experience hardships or dysphoria, but I certainly felt better than when I was identifying as a girl. When I was younger I didn’t know enough to discover who I was, so I identified as a girl—I didn’t know anything different. Coming out and being able to openly identify as male has made me feel like I am actually the me I’m supposed to be, especially coming to BB&N and being able to go by my name and having people use my pronouns. So yeah, maybe I didn’t know from the moment I could talk that I was transgender, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t always been a boy. I just didn’t know it yet.