Welcome back to Roar: The Podcast! In this episode, sophomore Rickie Thayer and freshman Karleigh Osenbaugh speak about gender identity. They discuss their own journeys to their current gender identities, how cisgender allies can do a better job of supporting their trans friends, how their identities have been accepted at SCHS, and more.
This is part two of this podcast. Part one was released last week.
Find this episode where you stream podcasts: https://anchor.fm/schstheroar
Rickie Thayer, sophomore at Santa Clara High School
Karleigh Osenbaugh, freshman at Santa Clara High School
Edited by Melina Kritikopoulos
Melina: On our last episode of Roar: The Podcast, sophomore Rickie Thayer and freshman Karleigh Osenbaugh spoke about their experiences with gender identity. Be sure to listen to that part first for some context. Here is part 2.
Rickie: People, just as humans, we love labels, love to categorize things. Taxonomy is a whole field of study, even though it’s pretty much fake. Well, it’s not fake. There’s more detail that I can get into a podcast about not that. Labels are just so difficult, and they’re a big part, but also a not very important part of being trans because at the end of the day, you’re still you. Labels only help if you want to feel more steadfast in your identity at first, if you need some sort of accommodations, or you need something to put on a college application form. When people say gender is a spectrum, it’s not like a six-bit or eight-bit spectrum. It’s not. It’s not like two dots on a line either. It’s more like a weird Mobius because there’s male and female and non-binary, but sometimes you feel – or some people feel – male and female and non-binary. Sometimes people feel like they have a gender, but it’s not that gender. While there are technically labels for that, I think the technical term for what my gender is, is demiboy, but I don’t like that very much as it came off of Tumblr, and Tumblr has a history of infantilizing trans men. And I don’t like that, demiboy. Why is it demiboy and not demiman, or demimale?
Karleigh: I agree. My cousin told me, “Oh, so you’re a demigirl.” And I was like, “I’m a what? What did you call me?”
Rickie: For a while I identified… it’s not like you start questioning your gender, and later that day, you’re like, “Oh, looks like this is a term that my feelings line up with.” I went through so many. Let’s see first, I thought, “Oh, I’m non-binary.” Actually, first I thought it was gender fluid because I couldn’t separate presentation and liking feminine things like skirts – skirts are so comfortable from gender – and so identified as gender fluid. I made these little different colored bracelets and everything. That happens to a lot of people. Then I was like, “No, no, definitely male.” But it wasn’t. Then I thought I was gender flux, which is like gender fluid but just on a spectrum of male and non-binary. So yeah, there’s all these weird different… if you’ve seen those Minecraft paintings, or all the different blocks, and then zoom out really far. It’s like a painting of pixels. I feel like with all the different flags that there are for genders you could make one of those, one of those pictures made of other pictures. But that’s not to make them seem any less valid. It further shows that gender is just a spectrum, and labels are something we do to feel better about ourselves that are standing.
Karleigh: I agree 100%.
Rickie: And also, I think it’s kind of entertaining that non-binary is defined in relation to cis people. Why are labels in relation to cis people?
Karleigh: Right. Speaking of that, the pronouns they/them. They almost gendered it. They said, “Gentlethem or m’theydy.” I was like, “Please don’t call me that.”
Rickie: At first I didn’t have a problem with that because I thought, “Oh, whatever” because I don’t pick up on those things all the time – my neurodivergence. Then my friends told me, “No, that’s a way of gendering it,” and I was like, “Oh it is.” One time – because I post videos on TikTok – someone commented on my videos, “Oh my God, Go they/them go!” At first I didn’t realize what was happening. I was like, “Oh, thank you,” like it was me dancing with my chickens or whatever. But then my friend – also the same friend – saw that, and was like, “That’s infantilization,” and I was like, “It is.” So fun fact about that friend, they use neopronouns, which are just pronouns that are not he/him, she/her or they/them like xe/xem, xe/xers. They also use it/its and fang/fangself. Those noun ones I always think are so cool, but then I never know how to use them.
Karleigh: For sure. I get what you mean. I still put my best effort into it anyways, and trying to understand it.
Rickie: I remember one of my other trans friends came out. They were like the third person at Buchser who came out to me and said, “Hey, I use it/its as pronouns.” I was like, “But you’re not an object. I don’t want to call you an object.” I feel so bad in retrospect.
Karleigh: You know how we’re talking about how labels are meant to make everyone feel better about themselves? You know those little kids toys where it’s the little box and you put all the shapes in their correct little boxes? Instead of a little shape it’s a big hole, and they all go in. If you take away the labels, you’re just that little shape. You’re that person. That’s who you are. (Labels) are really important for some people and not very important to other people. And they’re so confusing. I don’t like labeling myself because I feel like I’m putting myself into a box and limiting myself, and then I go against that label. I’m like, “Who am I?”
Rickie: It’s like, I have failed. I’m a fake trans person.
Karleigh: Oh, my God. Then we tell the people, they’re like, “Uwu, my little smol bean, my little enbean.” I am not Dan and Phil. I love people sometimes, and I like how they try to be supportive. But you know, there’s an obvious way to be supportive, and there’s a not so obvious way to be supportive.
Rickie: I had a friend who when I first came out to them, and they were like, “Oh my god, you’re one of those smol bean, uwu, gay boys now.” And I was like, “Haha, yeah.” They’re a very interesting person. They’re cool, but that was an interesting moment. Also, that reminds me more of the Tumblr brand trans, which is kind of like what we’ve been talking about that whole infantilization. That’s where a lot of the majority of those super specific labels come from is because that’s where a lot of those people hang out. Yeah, Tumblr. Now it’s more TikTok. TikTok is the new Tumblr.
Karleigh: Being comfortable with your labels and kind of relying on them is totally valid if that’s what makes you feel more comfortable with your identity, and it’s something that is very important to you. That’s amazing. Also, I think not everyone has to feel that way. Not everyone is the same. I think a lot of this is… I’m comparing this to drawing, really quick. Artists, beginning artists, have the same face syndrome, and I think for cis people, they have the same thing with trans people. It’s every trans person has the same life experience, which is so not true. It’s a huge misconception. And people kind of continue to spread that idea because… Like you said. You started out in each, started changing labels and stuff like that. I feel the same way, but I’ve always looked the same way, if that makes sense. But labels and kind of putting myself into that kind of term has been such a long and – ugh – journey that I don’t ever want to have to go through again.
Rickie: Yeah. Oh, man. A big part of that questioning is gender dysphoria, felt a little bit like the elephant of the room. It’s a feeling of unrest is what I think it is officially, but it’s more like agony, like mental anguish because of how your body feels. But it’s not always that severe. There are some people who are independently called transmits or trust comes, who think that you have to have gender dysphoria to be trans and well, very many trans people do. It’s not necessary. Gender euphoria is a lot more important to being trans. Getting that kind of rush of happiness and affirmation from being perceived as your gender is a lot more important in my eyes than feeling bad about your existing parts, or how people were referring to you before.
Karleigh: I 100% agree. I got a hate comment a while ago on my TikTok, like, “What are you a girl or boy,” and I got so excited. I was like, “You can’t tell?” Fairly obviously, I look like a girl. I know, they were trying to invalidate me, but I was like, “We did it. We did it, guys. Here we are. I’ve achieved my life goal as a non-binary person. Mm, let’s get it.” Obviously, it didn’t go very well afterwards, and they continue to like, “Oh, you’re a shopping cart. Your pronouns are an attack helicopter.” They’re literally in my bio. It says they/them. It’s such an interesting conversation to have. Whether people are being genuine or not, it’s still an interesting conversation. I think it all boils down to… who you are as a person and what makes you feel good about yourself.
Rickie: But that scenario also does bring up kind of an interesting topic, which is trying to convince people that you are what you are, as well. I think it is important to get, especially people who are close to you, let them know, affirmatively, this is who I am, you have to respect this, and it’s me. There are also sometimes where you just have to cut your losses with random people on the internet. If “attack helicopter” is in their vocabulary outside of purely martial scenarios, then I don’t think you’re gonna… no amount of debating… it’s not worth your energy to try and get those people to learn about trans issues. But you know what doesn’t take very much energy? Pressing the block button.
Karleigh: Oh, yes. My favorite. It’s obviously not a fun thing. When I got the hate comment, at first, I was like, “Yes, they can’t tell.” And I was like, “Oh, no, they’re being mean to me.”
Rickie: Oh, no right people are mean!
Karleigh: Usually, people aren’t like this, and I was just like, “Oh, well. Okay, then.” Then I got really angry. Then I was like, why am I wasting my time on this? They deleted their comments anyway, and I was like, “Oh, I won.” Gender, it doesn’t have to be such a huge thing that people make it out to be, like gender reveal parties. Do they don’t have to be such a mandatory thing for people? It doesn’t have to be like that. But you know.
Rickie: Gender reveal parties now that is…
Karleigh: I might have to have a second one.
Rickie: I think gender reveal parties’ only place in society is for trans people. Also, they’re not like any sort of tradition or anything, which I think a lot of people – especially younger people – forget. It was in the early aughts when people actually started doing gender reveal parties. I remember seeing somewhere on a post online the first gender reveal baby is now a girl who is a tomboy. I think the code is a girl who wears suits, and (this is) a timely topic because a few days ago, someone was killed by a gender reveal party bomb, which is awful that that happened. But why do you need explosives?
Karleigh: For a baby.
Rickie: Literally for a baby’s genitals? There are a lot of interesting… It’s not a gender reveal party; it’s a genital reveal party. It’s really weird. Why do you have to blow something up so that a bunch of your friends and family, maybe even strangers – I don’t know how far that confetti is going – figure out what your baby’s genitals are. That’s really creepy.
Karleigh: Yeah, I agree. I don’t think it should be so… because when they grow up, and if they ever have that kind of cycle where they’re like, “What am I?” Oh my God, why do I keep saying that? Sorry. That cycle of “Who am I?” and the struggle with labels. If they grow up and they have that cycle of “Who am I and what does this mean? What are these labels, and am I actually a girl?” It’s gonna be a rough journey. And it’s such a rough topic.
Rickie: Or if you’re actually a boy. I’ve noticed, just from my own experience, that there are a lot less assigned male at birth trans people. It feels like. Especially non-binary people. I don’t exactly know why that is. I get the feeling it has something to do with misogyny, or some humble use of capitalism in there too.
Karleigh: Toxic masculinity as well. A llittle bit of that.
Rickie: I, personally, hyper feminized right before coming out, or right before questioning my gender, because I was like, “Oh, I feel uncomfortable with this, just gonna pile on more.” I kind of wonder if that’s what AMAB people are doing too. I think it probably also has something to do with how (in) society, men aren’t allowed – well now it’s getting better – but they’re really not allowed to show emotions, and I think a lot of trans guys probably also struggle with that.
Karleigh: Yeah, for sure. especially because femininity is perceived as weak. Men are supposed to be strong and buff and argh. Being a woman and showing your emotions is just so… oh, what’s it called? A word for it passe? It’s hard. Just be who you want, but it’s hard for some people. You can’t always be who you want because there’s the pressure of other people around you, the pressure of your own realization, because realizing who you are isn’t just a quick Google search and being like, “Oh, yes, this thing, I am it.”
Rickie: It’s not like looking at that, I think, famous several years ago picture of all the different gender symbols. Iit’s not as simple as looking at that. It’s not a catalog.
Karleigh: Yeah, it’s not a catalog.
Rickie: It’s more like… back to the spectrum. It is kind of like the color. It’s more like the color swatches at the hardware store.
Karleigh: It’s not like going to the grocery store, picking up a thing and looking at the kind of list of ingredients and being like, “Yeah, this I.” Back to labels. Labels are so important to so many people. Not kind of fitting into any of them makes it so hard to kind of accept yourself…
Rickie: There are a lot of places where I don’t quite fit in. I’m not going to get into detail about it because my gender, it’s not quite male, it’s not quite non-binary, and I said it was neurodivergent earlier. It’s not quite autistic, but not mild enough just to be ADD. Sometimes I’m not masculine enough to be a dude it feels like to some people, but I think that’s probably just my gender dysphoria talking.
Karleigh: I feel you. I understand it. That gets into the topic of passing. It makes my head explode. It’s such a toxic (topic), too.
Rickie: For those unfamiliar, passing is the act of being perceived as your gender and not as your gender assigned at birth. The things people do to pass is wear masculine or feminine or androgynous clothes, or keep their hair certain length. The hair thing is very interesting because I know you have long hair, and I want long hair so bad. For a long time, I was like, “Oh, I can’t do it. I’m not gonna be able to pass. I can’t have long hair,” but I’ve started growing it out. I just kind of realized, wait. First of all, I could get hormones in like, three years. How long is my hair gonna grow in three years, or earlier? I got a new therapist. She’s very cool. She is, I guess, a youth LGBTQ specialist. I’ve never actually asked her. But I was complaining about how like, “Oh, no, I want to go on hormones, and my parents are accepting, but they don’t want me to do it.” She’s like, “Why don’t they want to do it?” I’m like, “Oh, because they think it’s a phase.” It is not a phase.
Karleigh: It’s not a phase, Mom!
Rickie: But really, it’s not. Being cis was a phase and a cringy one. She did say, “Oh, I’ll have to talk to them about that” because apparently that’s a common misconception within parents that “Oh, they might be…” because I do go through a lot of phases. But my gender is something that I have felt and upon retrospect, gender dysphoria has been there all along. Gender euphoria, though, pretty new and pretty epic. What are some things that give you gender euphoria?
Karleigh: I guess, aside from looking at myself in the mirror and… my hair, I recently cut it off by accident. Not really by accident. Well, it’s not important. I cut my hair and it’s like shoulder length now, regrettably. I put my hair up sometimes, and I look in the mirror, and I look like a dude. I look like my brother. I’m like, “Oh, I look like my brother.” I’m the mean older sister, so when I look like my little brother, I’m like, “What just happened?” But I get excited. I’m like, I could be this. Obviously, it’s not who I want to be – it’s not like that – but not perceiving myself to be how I was assigned at birth. When I dress more, kind of, masculine… Masculine for me is sweatpants and a really big hoodie because I don’t own any masculine clothes because I’m super feminine. I like dresses and skirts and pretty things, I guess. They’re so cute. I don’t own any masculine clothes, but when I change my posture and look at myself from a certain angle, I’m like, “Dang, who is that?” Get it, I guess. When I go over it and I look into my little brain, I’m just like, “Yeah, I get what you’re trying to say to me.” I kind of take a big deep breath, and I accept it. I’m like, “Yeah, that’s who we are.” I just get super excited and super happy. I’m like, “You know, it’s been a really long journey from cis to not cis.” I’m kind of happy where I am right now because I wasn’t always open because not everyone I knew was super aware of it. But now a lot of people are. As you grow up, you become more aware that you’re not just the only person who exists and (become) aware of other people and diversity. So now that a lot of my friends kind of accept that,they’re like, “Yeah, you are this person, and that’s really cool. You keep doing that.” I’m like, “Yes, I will keep doing that.”
Rickie: That’s so awesome. I love that you have a supportive friend group.
Karleigh: It’s very fun.
Rickie: Some things that give me gender euphoria are… I have this specific outfit. It’s not necessarily me, but it makes me feel very masculine. It’s this firework type pattern button up and some corduroy pants – with a binder – and I look in the mirror, look on the sides. It’s like, “Oh, look at him go. That is a little man right there.” It just makes me feel like me, and I think it’s cool that you have stuff that makes you feel like you because people are who they are. That’s a really simple statement. The fine print of it is that your identity is real and valid. It’s a core part of you, but also a private part and a part that isn’t necessary for other people. It’s not necessarily…
Karleigh: It’s a special thing. Everyone has their own special thing, which is really special. Identity, expression, it all boils down to who you are as a person, and who you accept yourself to be. Obviously, you won’t always accept yourself sometimes and it gets hard, but when you come down to the nitty gritty and you get to where you want to be, it’s a really special and it’s a really good thing. It’s kind of like the end of a chapter, and it’s a really good one.
Karleigh: That concludes this episode of Roar: The Podcast! We thank you so much for listening, and we hope you’ll share this episode and future episodes with your community. Until next time!