BY PETER MILES HAMILTON
My name was Brendan McDaniel. I used he/him pronouns, not that I ever thought much of it.
With all the time I’ve had on my hands due to the COVID-19 lockdown, I guess now was as good a time as any to have a gender crisis. I’m non-binary, somewhere under the agender umbrella. Please bare with me as I work through this transition.
I never much identified with the gender label of man/male to begin with; it just wasn’t a thing I ever really thought about. It wasn’t until I found out that some of my favorite YouTubers were non-binary that I started considering the idea. Pronouns didn’t bother me until recently, but societal gender norms have ALWAYS bothered me. Firstly, on principle, but secondly, the pressure to conform to male standards has always stressed me. “Male” isn’t something I have any identification with; it feels like an other, something that is utterly alien to me. When I consider myself as a man, or compare myself to men, it seems wrong, in a sense.
To consider myself as male, feels as if something is categorically incorrect, like wearing a shirt that’s too small or too big. Being the philosophy goblin that I am, I tried to think of how it would feel to consider myself as female; strangely, it felt wrong in the same way. I asked around to see if I couldn’t find a therapist or counselor who could help me work through some of this, but as it turns out, all the actual scientists are busy stopping the novel Coronavirus or something.
Allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Peter Miles Hamilton, and I use they/them, he/him, and she/her pronouns. Any of those work.
I don’t experience any body dysphoria, as many trans people do, so the most I change physically will likely be a change in hairstyle and in clothing; two things that I had wanted to do independently of my identity. I have no plans for gender transition surgery or hormone replacement therapy. I’m coming out publicly and sharing quite a bit of personal information in doing so, for a few reasons.
One, to consolidate information. Queer issues, and non-binary issues specifically, aren’t exactly common knowledge, and it helps to provide a good answer once than multiple bad answers repeatedly.
Two, I have already had more serious coming-out conversations to those for whom I felt it necessary. This isn’t a personal thing. I sought out people who could give me relevant and specific advice first, before making a general notice of it.
Three, this isn’t something that warrants a bunch of phone calls to announce. Coming out is simply re-introducing yourself. Same person, different name.
Four, though this isn’t a big deal for me, my being publicly out may be a big deal for someone else, not because I’m special in any way, but because seeing someone visibly out can be validating for someone who is feeling alone or as if they won’t be supported.
Look, I claim no notoriety beyond “philosophy goblin who had to re-edit their coming out letter because they kept swearing a bunch in it,” but that’s rather the point. I’m no eccentric celebrity, as Sam Smith or Asia Kate Dillon might have been perceived as, nor am I a disaffected teenager begging for attention, as is a certain pervasive stereotype of non-binary people. I don’t ask for any “special treatment,” or any extra attention or respect, or whatever other sensationalized nonsense you hear from memes or cable news. Not that those individuals would be any less deserving of respect, mind you; this is a rather basic level of human decency that we’re asking here. Trans people aren’t being trans for attention, they’re doing it because they, like anyone else, yearn for the same peace to live freely that anyone else would.
If you have questions, or if there are things I haven’t covered, feel free to ask them in the comments publicly or to approach me privately for discussion. I’m no expert, but I welcome genuine good-faith discussion. My ability to come out publicly, and not have to worry about my life being at risk for it is a luxury not afforded to many others by sole merit of being born in the wrong place at the wrong time. This cannot continue, and if the cause of normalizing the existence of trans people can be advanced by me using whatever public profile I can claim, then I’ll do so gladly.
Being able to finally get that off my chest has made me feel much better. Now that that’s out of the way, what else has happened since the last time I wrote a column?