Fifty Shades of Gender podcast graphic with Felix

Episode 21

A conversation with Felix


17 min. Recorded on 18 November 2020.

Felix’s pronouns are they/them. They are non-binary transgender and describe their sexuality as queer. Find out what that means to Felix in this episode.

We also talk about the difficulty with fitting in boxes, having to perform gender, how body and identity are different, the binariness in teaching and sports, and how you can figure out your gender at any age.

“How I feel that my body should be is a separate thing from how I identify internally. If I’d been assigned male at birth, I’d still be non-binary, but I probably wouldn’t feel the need to make changes to my body.” 

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TRANSCRIPT [expand to read]

Esther: Hello and welcome. What’s your name?

Felix: My name is Felix.

Esther: And how do you identify

Felix: non binary and queer?

Esther: Lovely. And what does that mean to you?

Felix: So basically it just means that I don’t really fit into any box. I don’t fit into any gendered box, like I don’t feel male or female, and I’ve kind of given up on trying to label my sexuality.

Esther: Yeah. That’s fair enough. So what’s that been like for you? Have you always felt that, or are they labels or identities that you’ve come to later in your life?

Felix: Well, I was never really very aware of kind of LGBTQ stuff when I was growing up. I didn’t really think about it. My story is not very typical in that I didn’t kind of figure out, but I was trans really early in life.

I think that’s mostly because my mum never really pushed gender norms or anything like that onto me. So I could kind of wear, wherever I wanted to play with whatever I wanted to, and it wasn’t really a big deal. And I was also home educated for a while. So like I did, I did kind of grow up without a lot of those pressures that most people experience. So I didn’t figure anything out about my gender until I was about 16.

Esther: Hmm. And how did that show up?

Felix: Well, I was dating somebody at the time who was questioning their gender. So I started looking into it a bit more and then I figured it out. Oh, this kind of sounds like it applies to me. For a long time I identified as a binary trans man, but then I figured out that that didn’t really fit very well because I didn’t feel comfortable trying to push myself into that box because in the end that is another box.

And a lot of people are very happy there and a lot more comfortable there, but. I wasn’t because I felt like I was kind of cutting out bits of myself, trying to address in a typically masculine way and trying to look, especially like a man, like not painting my nails and stuff like that. It’s all stereotypes that shouldn’t really apply.

But unfortunately they still do, especially for trans people because we often feel like we have to. Perform our gender to a really high level in order to be taken seriously, like for quite a long time, trans women wouldn’t be taken seriously at doctor appointments and allowed to transition unless they were wearing a skirt or a dress.

And it’s like, how many women do you know who wear skirts and dresses every single day? It’s like we’re held to a different standard.

Esther: Yeah. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Yeah, totally. So you mentioned the word binary, would you say you’ve had a typically binary transition?

Felix: Yeah, I would say in terms of my physical transition and kind of the dysphoria that I experience.

Yeah. I’ve been on hormones for about three years now, just over I think. And I had top surgery too. And it’s kind of been a little bit of a trade off as I’ve become more comfortable with my body physically I’ve actually started presenting in a more feminine way because I feel comfortable to do it.

It’s like prior to my physical transition, I was kind of overcompensating by trying to look because male was like code in order for people to take me seriously. But now I mean, I’d probably get mis-gendered more now than I did then. But I don’t mind it because like, as my choice, like if I had kind of normal, boring hair and didn’t pay my fingernails and stuff like that, then I’m sure everybody would see me as a guy, but I’m choosing to be a bit more fluid in my presentation and just do what makes me feel comfortable rather than what box I’m supposed to be fitting into.

Esther: Yeah. So I’m curious about, cause obviously you say nonbinary really resonates with you, but your transition was pretty much binary. Do you feel like that contradicts each other? People might think that, or how, how do you feel that fits together?

Felix: I think basically it’s kind of like. Like how I feel that my body should be as a separate thing from how I identify internally.

Like if I been assigned male at birth, I’d still be non binary, but I probably wouldn’t feel the need to make changes to my body. And like everyone’s not binary transition looks different. Plenty of non binary people have a stereotypically binary transition, or just do parts of the transition or maybe take hormones at a lower dose or plenty of  nonbinary people don’t feel the need to transition at all. And it’s just kind of what everyone’s level of physical comfort or discomfort with their body looks like.

Esther: Yeah. It’s, it’s very individual thing. Isn’t it?

Felix: Yeah, definitely.

Esther: So do you feel like, do you have a sense of completion in your transition? And what about that in your identity?

Felix: I’m not really sure yet. Like I have considered bottom surgery on and off for a long time. It’s not really something that I’m sure if I’ll do or not. I kind of prefer to wait for the technologies of it to improve it a little bit. And also as I’m, I’m quite an active person outside of lockdown, I’m a figure skater.

And I don’t really want to go through all of the multiple surgeries and recovery times and everything that’s necessary for bottom surgery.

Esther: Wow. Yeah.

Felix: So it’s kind of like, what’s more of a priority at this point in my life.

Esther: Yeah. That’s fair enough. How did your family respond to it? Like your, your gender journey, like coming out and things?

Felix: Well, it was quite interesting really. My mum and dad are not together and they were quite kind of opposite in how they reacted. My dad was very much like, “I don’t understand any of this, but you do what makes you happy?” And he kind of trusted me to know what was right for me. Whereas my mom is kind of a bit more woke and she was like, “Oh yeah, I get all the identity stuff.” and she did a lot of reading around it and she kind of said to me that she understood it, but she didn’t want me to do anything to change my body or do any actual aspects of transition. She was like, you should just be who you are without changing your body because she’s got kind of weird hang ups about being natural. And like, she doesn’t like the fact that I have tattoos and stuff like that. So, yeah, it’s not just limited to transition.

Esther: Yeah. Yeah. Wow. Yeah. I heard that actually listening to a podcast called how to be a girl of a woman who’s got a transgender child and that’s exactly how she felt about her child at first, until she saw that her child was just miserable, you know, and she had to get her head around the idea of that. So yeah, that’s, that’s really interesting. So what is your life like at the moment? Do you have a partner relationship, anything like that?

Felix: Yeah. I’m in a relationship. I live with my partner. We’re both in our last year of university and then I’m going to go on to do a teacher training course next year. So yeah, hopefully and the year or so after that we might buy a house.

Esther: Oh, lovely. Cool. How do you foresee things in your, in your sort of future career with gender? I mean, how are people responding to, like gender non-conforming people. Do you have any idea about that?

Felix: It is something that I’ve kind of been putting a lot of thought into, because obviously teaching is a very binary profession. If you think about kind of how the students address the teachers and things like that, it’s all star and mess and that kind of thing. And there are a few non binary teachers out there. There’s there’s one school. I can’t remember the name of it, but if you go on their website, they have a nonbinary teacher in their meet with staff section and there is a nonbinary title of MX, which is pronounced “mix,” but I don’t personally feel comfortable using that because it’s like, It just sounds a little bit like mess to me.

And I just, I just don’t really like it that much. I like it on paper, but I don’t think I’d like to be called it. So what I’m planning on doing is going by Sir and Mr. And using kind of most of the male things, but going by, they/ them pronouns where possible. And I’ve discussed that with the training provider for my teacher training course and they’re happy to support me with that.

So that’s the first step is kind of, I always say to people like. I am non binary. You should be using they/them pronouns for me, but like my second choice is being referred to as masculine and he/ him pronouns.

Esther: Yeah. So what do you think could be done in, in the profession or in the teaching profession to be more open or accepting of gender diversity.

Felix: I think we definitely need to improve the kind of sex and relationships education that goes on in schools and diversity education for teachers as well. There’s a lot of controversy about what you should, and shouldn’t be teaching children, but it’s like, Being transgender and non binary is not anything sexual. It’s just who you are. And the same with different sexualities. Like, children are exposed to being straight and being cis-gender from literally the minute they’re born, it’s all about like Disney princess films, where the guy and the girl live happily ever after and stuff like that. And if you think that that’s okay to show your child, men and women kissing and all that kind of thing, then why isn’t it okay to let your child know that it’s okay to be gay or bisexual or transgender or anything like that?

Esther: Yeah, totally.

Felix: That definitely would be, there should be more education of teachers within the profession as well. And school leadership teams should be better equipped to support gender diverse teachers. I think there’ve been a couple of cases I’m not sure about in this country, but I know in America, I think it was America, that was a case where a teacher came out as non binary and was then either sacked or transferred to a different position or something like that because of complaints from parents. And it’s like, parents are going to complain, but the leadership team should always be taking the side of their own staff, especially in a case that’s about like identity and gender diversity and stuff like that.

Esther: Yeah, because you often see the kids don’t have much of a problem with it at all. It is all the adults, isn’t it? Yeah. We’re just more conditioned. Yeah. Totally. Is there anything else you’d like to add that you feel is important to say?

Felix: Hmm, well, I’m not really sure. I think it’s really important for me to kind of get the message out, but it’s okay to not know who you are when you’re five years old. Because all we see in the media is trans people who knew who they were practically, as soon as they could walk and talk. And the reality for a lot of people, it’s not like that. A lot of people don’t have the education or the resources or all the time or the mental space to realize and process things about themselves while like growing up.

So a lot of people don’t figure out anything at all until they’re in their twenties, or even much later, and like, that’s okay and they’re still, you’re still valid as trans if you don’t figure it out until later.

Esther: Yeah. Yeah. I love that.

Felix: And also that it’s okay. Like if you, if you figure out that you’re transgender and then you stop kind of socially transitioning and something still doesn’t feel right, like that’s often a sign that you’re non binary because kind of that’s what it was like for me. I came out and then I kind of backtracked a little bit, cause I couldn’t really figure out what was going on and why it still didn’t feel quite right. But like just kind of do what works for you and don’t try and push yourself into another box for the sake of other people being comfortable with you.

Esther: Yeah, totally. Just trying to think of anything else to ask you. Really,

Felix: I suppose there is figure skating, obviously, is a big part of my life and that is an extremely binary gender sport.

Esther: Yeah. Yeah. It must be.

Felix: Yeah. Yeah. I mean everything in figure skating is men’s and women’s categories like in ice dance and pair skating. There’s the man and the lady, and there’s not really much wiggle room there for anything else. I haven’t really done many competitions yet. Cause I came a bit late to the sport to do anything serious with it, but I have done some and the competitions that I’ve done. I’ve just gone in under the male category, because that’s easiest and most comfortable for me. And I believe it’s also all that I’m eligible for now I’m on hormones. Well, I think it is kind of unnecessarily gendered in some cases like it’s hard with high level sports, because there are performance differences, but there should be more flexible areas.

The competition that I did, obviously it’s at a lower level and I don’t think it needed to be gendered. I don’t think, you know, there weren’t any measurable performance differences between the categories, but they did well in that they had a separate category, which was the exhibitions gate, where it was judged on entertainment rather than technical quality and that didn’t have gender categories. So I felt, I thought that was pretty good, but yeah, figure skating has a long way to go.

Esther: Well, let’s hope you can educate them from the inside out then. Right.

Felix: Yeah. (laughs )

Esther: All right. Well, thank you so much for talking to me about your journey. I guess we’re good, then. Yeah. Awesome.

About Felix

“I’m a figure skater and university student, and plan to go into teaching after graduation. I’m the oldest of 7 siblings and live with my partner. I wanted to do this podcast to raise awareness of the different types of journeys that trans people can experience, and to show people that there is no “right way” to be trans.”

What we discussed

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