Speech is dangerous. I have a naturally clear, carrying voice that has been accentuated by the love and confidence I was lucky enough to have given to me by my parents. That means that people will hear what I say.
That puts me in danger. The incident I describe in the ‘Life on the front line’ post, while not dangerous as such, came about as a result of me talking loudly and unashamedly. And I do not shrink from discussing sexuality and gender while in public spaces. I refuse to let the threat of violence and harassment stop me from living my life to the full.
There are situations in which I would and do pipe down. A dark night, walking with a friend. A badly-lit space where people are drunk. A toilet.
It is a great privilege to be able to hide in situations one considers dangerous, although it is also an oppression. On the whole, I try not to. I like making people wonder – I hope it opens people’s minds. But it’s also scary sometimes. Not only my voice, but the way I look sets off people’s queerdars.
Despite that, I try to be myself, I try not to hide. It’s hard to be out as agender, because it’s such an alien concept for most, but at the very least I can confuse people (and yes, I do like it when drunks yell from the other side of the road ‘are you a boy or a girl,’ and I reply ‘no’ and by the time they’ve got their heads round that I’ve gone…) So far, I guess I’ve been lucky. A bit of verbal harassment, a load of weird looks and a couple of public toilets/fitting rooms problems aside, I haven’t come into problems. Long may that last.