Decorative graphic with the name "Kit", and labels 'genderfluid', 'trans-feminine', 'non-binary' and 'demigirl'

Kit

  • GENDERFLUID
  • TRANS-FEMININE
  • NON-BINARY
  • DEMIGIRL

Pronouns:

They/them

Sex assigned at birth:

Male

We talk about labels, gender presentation, parenting roles, the journey of gender discovery, USA thrift stores, San Francisco, Harry Potter, feminism and privilege.

Duration: 44 minutes approx.

Recorded: 5 February 2019

TRANSCRIPT

Esther: Hello, welcome.

Kit: Hello there!

Esther: What’s your name?

Kit: My name is Kit Rackley and my pronouns are they/them.

Esther: Okay; how do you identify?

Kit: I identify under the trans-umbrella, as a non-binary person. My first, the first way I identified myself actually was gender-fluid before I identified myself as non-binary or transgender, but I will come back to that later, I guess.

Esther: Okay; yes.

Kit: I kind of, when I was trying to get to know what my gender was, I found this Facebook social group, and then they had a lexicon, a glossary of terms, and there was a huge long list of labels and I kind of went down that list and thought to myself: which was one of these kind of feel like me. So, this was after I kind of discovered I was gender-fluid.

Esther: Yeah.

Kit: And the other two terms that I think kind of closely fit me as well, trans-feminine and maybe demi-girl. So, demi-girl means that you kind of sort of feel like you are a girl, but not quite. If you were to imagine a spectrum, maybe halfway between androgynous and a girl, but being gender-fluid I kind of feel like the best way to describe it, is that I orbit around demi-girl. So, I kind of sometimes feel quite feminine and really like a girl, sometimes I feel quite androgynous and rarely feel quite masculine. So, it is tricky, but I try to have a lot of fun with it if I can, as well.

Esther: Absolutely, yeah. How long have you been kind of thinking about gender in this way? And when did you sort of come out as such?

Kit: It is, for me, in terms of recognising myself as being transgender that has been a very recent thing. So I am 36 — I am 37 this year — and really it was only in the last 12-15 months where I kind of like felt I identified as transgender in this way. For a few years before that I really felt like something wasn’t quite right with how, with my gender. I kind of felt I was gender-questioning, shall I say. So I always felt that I never felt like I was a typical “guy” and that feeling of not feeling typically stretches back even to when I was very young. So, it has been quite a gradual process, but with the realisation really only coming about a year-ish ago.

Esther: Okay, so it is fairly new.

Kit: In terms of the kind of eye-opening, penny-dropping moment, that’s been very recent.

Esther: All right then, so how does looking at all the labels you have gone through and everything, what does that mean to you and how do you express that?

Kit: Well, that’s a really big question! So, I suppose if we take one thing at a time, for a start I think, for me, labels are both kind of helpful and unhelpful. In my personal opinion, and I can’t obviously speak for all people who identify as transgender, but, from my personal opinion, I feel that if we get to the stage where a label is completely unnecessary, and the only label you need is the label “me”, or “myself”, then we have got there, because everyone is just an individual. So, in terms of how society may see me as a person, that’s where labels not only help me to identify myself, but maybe to explain to other people kind of where I fit from their social or cultural point of view.

So, if we take those [terms] obviously, transgender is more of a clear-cut one, I am quite a scientific and literal person so, for me, the definition of transgender is someone who does not identify with the gender they were assigned when they were born, I therefore identify as transgender, purely by definition. I was assigned male at birth, but I don’t, the vast majority of the time, feel I am male, so therefore transgender. So then to go underneath that umbrella the next one is non-binary, so as I said with my labels before, kind of feeling mostly like a girl and being gender fluid on that side of the spectrum, that is clearly non-binary, so that kind of fits there. I kind of like, I like the fact that non-binary is not just a term to say you don’t fully identify as male or female according to what society puts in the male and female box, but there is whole range in between. And I personally think that the vast majority of the world’s population are probably non-binary, if you really think about it.

Esther: Right.

Kit: You don’t really have, it is very rare to have what society feels is a complete girly-girl, feminine-girl, ultra-fem girl, and a big, tough, masculine, ultra-male. Those two caricatures of binary gender I feel are actually quite rare that and don’t exist in real life.

Esther: Totally, and they are really, caricatures.

Kit: Exactly. I don’t feel, I mean this is a nice way in respect of other non-binary people, I don’t feel being non-binary should be — or is — very special at all, I actually feel if people think about it, no one is really binary.

Esther: Yes, yes.

Kit: And if they are binary, fine, that’s how they feel, and they identify. So then those two kinds of labels kind of make sense because they are almost literal definitions, but then you get into the ones which are a bit trickier, I find, to explain to other people. So, in gender-fluid I think is quite difficult for other people to grasp, because I don’t think people like strange and fluctuations much or they can’t handle it very, very, well.

Esther: I think people just want to put you in a box, whatever you say: If this is how you identify and this is how you present that and they kind of want to see that all the time, I guess, so they get used to it, and get an idea of what words to use, and get used to the identity of you. But, yeah, I think anything fluid is going to be, I think they maybe feel a bit threatened, or just confused really: what’s it going to be today? I think a lot of people are maybe worried about offending transgender or non-binary people. I know I have a friend who, bless him he is in his 70s, and he is worried that when he speaks to a transgender or gender-fluid person, that they might change their pronouns in the middle of a conversation, and he is going to offend them.

Kit: Right, yes.

Esther: He is genuinely concerned about that.

Kit: I think a lot of people are too hung up on not trying to offend other people, and without going off-piste to your question, I can come back to it later, but I think that being sensitive to a transgender person’s experience, because you don’t know what a person’s experience is and how that might make them feel like, in terms of triggering events, how that make them feel. But I think we need to be a little bit more receptive to genuine attempts of understanding of other people and I can come back to that a little bit later when I speak about my family.

But, in terms of being gender-fluid, the best thing to do, really, is to give an example which maybe anybody can identify with? So, when I, for example, I love playing sports, so I am a footballer, I actually play for a veterans team on a Sunday. And when I am surrounded, in that environment, with, I can only assume, cis-gendered males, I don’t them all personally, who knows?

Esther: Yes, that is kind of an assumption.

Kit: When I get competitive and when I am surrounded in that environment, I feel quite masculine. It is almost like I can feel the testosterone in my body, because I can kind of, that’s what’s sports are, they are an evolution aren’t that of kind of that primal wolf, going about with another tribe, kind of thing.

Esther: {laughing} Yes.

Kit: {laughing} So I don’t want to…I don’t go onto the football pitch and start chopping people down.

Esther: {laughing}

Kit: So that’s an example of, some people listening to this might say: well, how can you label that as gender-fluid that is just you getting pumped up for a football match? But, for me, that is gender, because of society…an extension of that which we can have a whole discussion about is: girls can’t play football, that kind of nonsense, that kind of thing. But then when I do things with my children, like read them stories, or do some artwork with them, I kind of feel a lot more nurturing, a lot more, what is the best way to say it? That kind of motherly kind of thing coming out and society has boxed that as a feminine thing.

Esther: Yeah of course. Why not call it what it is right? Why does it have to be generated so that you can be strong, and you can be nurturing? Why does it have to be masculine and feminine?

Kit: Absolutely, which is why it goes back to the point that I made that in an ideal world there would be no labels, you would just be you, because…

Esther: Just human, right?

Kit: Just a human. With all these traits which society has called feminine, or motherly traits, kind of then come out as well, you see gender fluidity is a little bit harder to explain but it really is a case of deep down inside you feel one way or another that society would expect a female person, or a feminine person to act, or a male person. So, again, it is all about how people perceive you rather than how you feel inside, so. So, that leaves the other two terms, which I think are a little bit more clear cut but transfeminine: so the term trans, as listeners may be aware, is a Latin term, the modern use of it as transgender and cisgender is what people have contentions about, have issues about, but actually those two pre-fixes have been about for a very long time. So, “cis” is jut Latin for “on the side of”, so cisgender you identify with the gender that you are assigned at, transgender as I would use, as an ex-geography teacher, transatlantic, of the other side of the Atlantic, so transgender the other side of the gender. So, transfeminine, as you would probably then guess, is: I’m expected to be masculine, because I was assigned male at birth, but I, actually, most of the time, act quite feminine, so therefore transfeminine is just the label for that.

Finally, demi-girl as I have already explained before, is a case of sort of feeling like a girl wanting to do what people perceive are girly things and dress up in girly ways, so they are all the kind of labels. People might say, listeners might say: well you don’t need those labels, just dress how you want to, act how you want to, you are a human being. And I totally agree that’s where we need to get to and I think the day that we stop labelling people, it doesn’t matter if it is gender, race, whatever it is, the day that we get to that point where labels are no longer necessary, I think we then finally reach equality, in my personal opinion.

Esther: In an ideal world hey?

Kit: In an ideal world.

Esther: So, yeah, I was just admiring your very colourful skirt, so describe a little bit about how you like to express yourself.

Kit: People may have heard that sometimes gender identity doesn’t always reflect gender-presentation. And that also throws people who don’t understand about it a little bit off, like: okay, so you are feeling androgynous, but you are wearing a skirt, or you are feeling feminine, but you have got a buzz cut hair cut. So, again, it goes back to the whole thing that people should dress how they dress. So what I am wearing at the moment, this is a lovely long red skirt that goes all the way down to my ankles, the sequins unfortunately keep dropping off and if I go from…

Esther: You leave a trail! {laughing}

Kit: So, if I get lost in the woods, I would be able to find my way back out with all these sequins I drop on the floor. {laughing} It is lovely when the light shines, it actually makes the ceilings glitter and the walls glitter, when the sun bounces off it, my work colleagues here quite like it actually. So I am wearing this long skirt, I have got a nice top on which has got a lace arms. I really like lace, I have got lace dresses and lace tops and I think that has become my favourite style. I have got a work blouse and a cardigan on top of that because it is a little bit chilly.

Esther: Yes.

Kit: Probably the most obvious thing, if people were to see me now, is my red hair, my long red hair and I have got a whole story behind that, which I can tell.

Esther: Please do!

Kit: I would just describe it as past, it is upper arm length, I have got it tied back at the moment but sometimes I have it down, sometimes I have it partially tied and I would describe it fiery red, red-y-brown, maybe.

Esther: Yeah, sort of in-between red and orange-y, not amber, brick red, maybe.

Kit: And it has got bangs, which I try and wear over my eyebrows so that it is the right length. Although sometimes it is quite fun to shift it a little bit so people think I have had my hair cut or I have let it grow a bit too long. That is what I mean about the fun of it.

I like to wear some light makeup, particularly eye shadow and mascara, I have got my nails painted, thanks to an ex-student of mine I have got this set of Harry Potter nail polish. I am wearing actually a combination of the Gryffindor and the Ravenclaw one.

Esther: {laughing} I love it, awesome!

Kit: The Gryffindor is this deep red but that has sort of chipped away, so kind of the lower half of my nails were red but then I have gone over that with the Ravenclaw blue, so you have got this purple gradient. That’s what I mean by having fun with my gender presentation, it is almost like catching up for lost time in the way I would have liked to have been able to present myself {Esther: of course}. It is not so much now, because I am very comfortable with presenting the way that I want to present but I used to be exceptionally jealous of the line of clothing available to women, compared to the line of clothing available to men, in terms of what they are labelled in the shops and then I was thinking: why can’t I wear something a bit more colourful and a bit more flowery. It is not just the patterns but the styles as well, you know low-cut, high-cut, V-necks, turtle necks; and it is a bit of shame really the way that our culture and our society deems that men can have this blander fashion spectrum.

Esther: Yeah, it is like navy and…

Kit: All we have got is shirts and jeans and that is not to disgrace or discredit any of the cis-gendered men out there who are rocking it, absolutely rocking it, as I say you want to wear what you feel what you want to wear.

Esther: Absolutely.

Kit: And I have full respect for people who walk into work here and they are wearing this almost like flowery shirt and I feel it, so brilliant.

Esther: I mean I wear a lot of black…but I like it.

Kit: So, the story of my hair actually does combine quite well with the whole recognising that I was transgender. So, to kind of give some context, I was a High School teacher for 13 years, in the area, in the local area of Norwich. Through various reasons I needed break, there were family reasons, personal reasons, professional reasons. The main reason was because I had got two young children as well and I just needed to step back from that really intense kind of working environment, and I needed to rebalance my work-life balance. And, with my partner being from the United States — and we have a lot of friends and family over in the United States — we decided to take a whole year off and spend it in the United States of America. So, through our contacts I managed to get placements in certain places around the United States and one of these placements that I went to was in San Francisco, which I now count my second home, as I am about to elaborate.

So, I spent two-and-a-half months in San Francisco, working at this incredible science museum called the Exploratorium, and our connection at the Exploratorium was my wife’s cousin, called Kate, who is one of the most friendly, charming, larger-than-life, sun-beams everywhere person who has love for everybody. She has all these connections to different people in the community, so it doesn’t matter what colour skin they are, whether they are transgender or whatever the community, she had contacts with it. So, through working at the Exploratorium, where she works, which is a very liberal, open-minded place, they would even do exhibits about the science of sex, for example, so they had this wonderful, after-dark, when they open it for the over-18s about the science of sex and sexual pleasure and everything like that. It was amazing, there was no taboo whatsoever, it was like: we are going to treat you like human beings. It was all good, you could dissect vibrators {Esther: laughing} you got Victorian sexual implements, there were scientific talks about orgasms and things like this. I am just setting the scene of how open-minded and liberal and progressive this place is. The staff at the Exploratorium were of all shapes, sizes and colours and demographics, so that was quite incredible, and they were all completely open with themselves. So, you had transgender people, you had non-binary people, you had people from all kinds of ethnic background and racial backgrounds. A very high percentage of women were working there which was fantastic, because the science is seen as a very male-led things, but the Exploratorium seemed to turn that on its head, which was incredible.

So, I felt so at home there and the first thing that I saw when I went into the Exploratorium, into the staff room, was this small little basket of pronoun badges. So there pronoun badges with “he” “they” and “she” on them and I asked about them and I was just curious, and they were like: oh yeah, you can just pick one of them up. And it was the first time I actually questioned myself with what pronoun badge I would pick up, because at that stage I was still going by “he”, but I was kind of flirting with the idea, I was sort of questioning my gender by that point. I actually ended up picking up the “they” badge because it felt more right.

So, anyway, I spent a bit of time in San Francisco, hanging out with Kate and her friends, hanging out at the Exploratorium, getting to know the people there. And then the language that they were using, like it was completely normal, opened my eyes because they started to use language that I didn’t really hear before, like non-binary, like gender-fluid, like trans-feminine and things like that. And I would say: I am so sorry, but can you tell me what that means? That’s when it occurred to me: hey they are speaking right to my soul, they are speaking right to my heart. It is like a conversation that I was diving in like the deep end of a pool, of a really fresh, cool, pool and that really invigorating first morning swim that you have and come up for air and you think: this is just… this is incredible. That is how it felt, it went right to my soul.

And, then, I started to do thinks where I was like: okay this makes more sense, I am going to start exploring this now. So, then the thrift stores in the United States are incredible, thrift stores are charity shops basically. If you take a charity shop in the United Kingdom you need to multiply that by about ten in terms of size, range. There is this one thrift store I went to in San Francisco which was two floors and I would go there and I would nervously try and pick out a blouse, rather than a shirt, or some skinny jeans rather than baggy jeans, or leggings… something that would be deemed more androgynous or more feminine and I would be like shaking but the people were absolutely lovely: Ah that would look really, really, good on you! Words like this.

Esther: That’s great.

Kit: My best memory is this gentleman at this reclamation store called Urban Ore in Berkley, I have to give them a mention because they are lovely people there. I picked out this kind of– at the time it was really daring of me, now I kind of laugh about it – it was something to go out clubbing with, so kind of a corset-y kind of thing, it had cups and it was kind of false leather and it zips up at the front. It was kind of a bit provocative kind of thing, I don’t know goth, emo, whatever you want to say.  Now, for me, that was a definitely out-worldly purchase, but I went to the till and I was like: can I get this please? And the guy behind the till said: oh is that for you? And I was like: yes. And he was like: I so want to see you in that, you need to put yourself in it, take a picture, and come back and show me. And I was like: oh my God this is amazing! {laughing}

Esther: Yeah! Not what you were expecting, no?

Kit: Not what I was expecting, but that was the kind of reaction that I was getting. Sometimes reactions were lukewarm, so I am not going to say this was like amazingly gender-euphoric all the time, but it was enough to give me confidence, it was enough to give me a high, it was enough to give me a drive to keep going. And at the times were I did have a little bit of a setback, I could get through it because I had that new-found confidence in myself.

So, now I have got this wardrobe now, I went to San Francisco saying: I am only travelling with one rucksack, I need to make sure…what do I end up doing? I end up doubling, maybe even tripling, my wardrobe. I was staying in this RV in Berkeley, so this was problematic, but then I thought: right, I have got some jewellery, I have got some clothing, but there is one thing missing and that is a decent wig, hair. So, now I am going to shop in San Francisco, again, nervous as anything. There is no real, there wasn’t a wig shop per se… I will retract that, there were wig shops in San Francisco, but they were very up market and they would probably be charging $100 to $200 for wigs. Now, this is my year off, I am not earning any income, so I had to go for the best value wig that I can, which will last but will not cost me too much money. So, I ended up going into a fancy dress shop, but they advertised that they had a whole range of wigs, of various different budget levels, so everything from $10-$20 up to $200, so I thought that would probably be the best way. Again, very nervous and there was no problem, the person there was like: okay let’s try on different things. The only stipulation is that you have to buy a wig cap for $3 because you can’t be trying on wigs…but so matter of fact and then we went through all these different things together; I tried blonde curly wigs, short wigs, brunette wigs, but when I put this one on, as described earlier with the red hair with the bangs and past my shoulders, I just looked at myself in the mirror and the shop assistant looked at me and went: yes, that’s you.

Esther: Just clicked, yeah, yeah.

Kit: Yes, that is you.

Esther: It is kind of like getting a wand at Ollivanders!

Kit: At Ollivanders, going back to the Harry Potter, yeah.

Esther: The wig chooses you!

Kit: If anyone is wondering by the way I am a Hufflepuff, I will just put that in. {laughing}

Esther: Okay {laughing}

Kit: So that was it, that was my hair. The first time I wore that out I went to, or one of the first time I wore that out, I went to Kate’s boyfriend’s album release, he was in a band and they were releasing their pilot album and I went out and I rocked it.

Esther: Yay!

Kit: I had red fake leather trouser leggings on, I had the hair on, I had this kind of lace dress that went down to my knees and I completely rocked it!

Esther: Woohoo, it must have felt so good?

Kit: It felt amazing, absolutely, amazing. Coming away from San Francisco was probably the hardest thing ever, because I was, Kate obviously knew me, she is my cousin-in-law, but I felt safe exploring my gender there because I was quite anonymous, no one really knew me apart from Kate, so there was a completely fresh, clean, slate with people getting to know me. I knew I wouldn’t be there forever, I was only there for a couple of months and then I would be moving on, so, the level of risk was very low. The place I was working on a placement, was encouraging me, they were saying: you have got, you will get full support here with whatever you choose to do and then I started to go into work a little bit more expressing my gender how I wanted to. Although the one regret is that I never went into the Exploratorium wearing my wig.

Esther: Ah yes.

Kit: Which is probably the one regret, but I did change my name while I was at the Exploratorium, so I changed from my birth name, to Kit, as I am now known as. They were like: Okay, you are called Kit now, fine!

Esther: Registered, yes.

“The confidence I was having and being surrounded by lovely, open-minded affirming people who just let you be who you were was the most powerful feeling I’ve felt in a very long time.”

Kit: I felt like I have left a piece of my soul back in San Francisco, but I will always think of it very, very, fondly. I know no place is perfect, I know if this podcast has got all the way over the West Coast of the United States, I know that some people over there may not…they have got some [issues], there are some things that I didn’t discover in San Francisco that maybe if I was there longer, I might have had a few setbacks. There were a couple of ones that I experienced, but, again, as I said before the confidence I was having and being surrounded by lovely, open-minded, affirming, people who just let you be who you were, was the most powerful feeling I have felt in a very long time.

Kit: I felt like I have left a piece of my soul back in San Francisco, but I will always think of it very, very, fondly. I know no place is perfect, I know if this podcast has got all the way over the West Coast of the United States, I know that some people over there may not…they have got some [issues], there are some things that I didn’t discover in San Francisco that maybe if I was there longer, I might have had a few setbacks. There were a couple of ones that I experienced, but, again, as I said before the confidence I was having and being surrounded by lovely, open-minded, affirming, people who just let you be who you were, was the most powerful feeling I have felt in a very long time.

Esther: Wow.

Kit: And, yeah, I will never forget it.

Esther: That’s so awesome. How has it been coming back and obviously sharing it with your family and how have they reacted and yeah, how has that been? How old are the kids?

Kit: My kids are four-and-a-half and two. So the eldest is getting used to it, he is very inquisitive though.

Esther: Yes.

Kit: Because he has known me, he has gone through his cognitive development with me being daddy, with me being he, then we went away for the year and of course these changes have happened quite rapidly. In terms of the language he uses he has been struggling with that, but really, in terms of everything else, it is just like: you are just being daddy. I still use — again this may confuse people — because I still use the term “daddy”, and I still call myself a father.

Esther: Okay.

Kit: I can really fully explain why that feels right.

Esther: But it does to you?

Kit: It does feel right, I am my child’s father, and their dad, and yeah it is quite… I don’t really know why that fits but it does, again, they are labels. So my eldest has kind of questioned a lot what I do, but he is exceptionally open-minded he is only four-and-a-half.

Esther: Yeah, he is just curious about stuff?

Kit: Yeah and he does come up to be sometimes and says: ‘Ah I have just drawn an elephant’. ‘Ah that’s really good.’ ‘It is a non-binary elephant.’

Esther: {laughing} I love that!

Kit: Sometimes he does slip in and say “he” but he has corrected other people when they have not used the proper pronouns, so ‘my daddy is not a he, my daddy is a they’.

Esther: Try saying that fast three times! {laughing}

Kit: Yeah! My wife and I don’t pressure our children whatsoever, we try and let things go organic and natural. We are not forcing anyone or any kind or any non-gender on them whatsoever. They find their own path and we let them discover things themselves. The only thing we can do is, when they question my gender, is say: Well, this is how it is. This is just matter of fact, daddy is trans. He doesn’t understand what transgender is, really, but we try and use children’s books and things to help with that.

Esther: Yeah.

Kit: So, that is my eldest. My youngest well he is only two. He hasn’t really experienced, or absorbed, anything except his immediate existence, I don’t have any memory earlier than four, or four-and-a-half, so I am just exactly who I think it is and he is starting to talk a lot more now, he uses pronouns on himself, he says: ‘he’, to refer to himself. He hasn’t used pronouns for other people yet, he has not got that level of language yet. So it will be really interesting to see what happens when he does develop that language to identify other people, through their pronouns, whether he will say, “they”, or whatever. Whether even he will use the pronoun she, because I do wear my hair quite a lot, so that will be really interesting, but that is how we approach it at home: Why do you say that? Where did that come from? Or, what makes you think that? Very kind of critical thinking, you know, kind of way of looking at things.

Esther: Anything is a subject to talk about, yeah. And, what about your wife?

Kit: My wife has been absolutely incredible, I will admit it has been tough for her, she will admit it has been tough for her and I don’t want to…she can speak for herself,

Esther: Obviously, yeah, yeah.

Kit: …so, I won’t go into too much detail.

Esther: That’s another episode then?

Kit: Maybe another episode, with her prerogative of course. What is most certainly safe to say is that, if you can imagine we have been together for a long, long, time and since 2003. So, of course, she has got to know me a certain way and in terms of my personality as an individual none of that has already changed — at all. But when you have a partner that you spend all your time with and you share everything with, then particularly the physical appearance, and the change, they find it quite tough. I couldn’t really, hand on heart, I couldn’t have hoped for a better partner in this respect. And I would be very, I am trying to see if I can word this — I am not trying to word it sensitively, I am trying to word it accurately – although my identity is me, and I can’t change who I am, I don’t want to be insensitive to the way that she is feeling. And this is what I said earlier I think that depending on a transgendered person’s individual experiences, because we don’t know what really hurts them, but I think we have all got to try and do our very, very, best to appreciate, to try and see the genuine attempts of our family, of our partners. So, when it comes to my wife, for example, I know 100% she is there with me supporting me. There are things that she has got to come to terms with, but all the effort is genuine, her love is absolute. And, therefore, I have to be sensitive and supportive of her going through these changes because it was very sudden what happened. She always knew that I wasn’t, she liked me for that reason of not being a typical bloke and all this kind of stuff.

Esther: Of course.

Kit: She wouldn’t have got with me, that’s me and that has always been the case, so it is mainly the gender presentation is what’s more of a…

Esther: How you express yourself in that way.

Kit: How I express my gender. So, I have got to be mindful and supportive of that.

Esther: Yes.

Kit: And because I know she is being supportive, because I know she is being genuine and I am trying my very, very, best to be patient, and not being judgemental of her. I just think that our relationship is worth too much, I can’t change who I am, I am not going to put myself back in a box, so the challenge is how we are going to both move forward but I love her dearly and I can’t think of, I am very lucky, let’s just say I am exceptionally lucky to have the family that I have.

Esther: Yeah.

Kit: Home is definitely one of my safe spaces, and I know not everybody is fortunate like that and my heart and my thoughts do go out to people who, obviously people who have had flat-out rejection, and hostility, I have a level of privilege where I have not experienced that. The people I closest to, or I work with, I have not experienced that outright rejection or hostility, and I can’t imagine what that would be like. But my thoughts also go out to the people where they can feel it in the air, there is that tone, that monochrome shade to everything, when they are in the presence of their loved ones, they can feel something is not quite right. So my heart also goes out to those kind of people. Without naming names, or saying who they are, because I don’t feel I have the right to say who these people are, but I have kind of had that feeling with some people that there is kind of a bit of staleness in the air.

Esther: Yes.

Kit: And I know how dreadful that can feel, so to be consistently living with that, my heart really does go out to people who have to experience that day-in, day-out, and then of course the extreme where people get completely cut off from their loved one just because of just who they are.

Esther: Yes, absolutely. Wow, that’s a fascinating story.

Kit: Thank you.

Esther: And a really positive one, which is wonderful.

Kit: I really…there are a couple of reasons why I like to tell my story. I call myself an activist, I have always been an environmental activist, it is almost an extension of being a geography teacher for so long and a feminist because, for me, those two things are like: why wouldn’t you look after the place where you are living? Why wouldn’t you have equality amongst all people, and all genders, it just doesn’t compute in my brain why that would be anything else. Then of course, now LGBT, I classified myself as an LGBT-ally, without realising I was also transgender but, so that has only intensified my activism and people who read my Facebook post, who have seen my Twitter feed, you know, I am at risk of just becoming an agenda really {laughing} because it is all politics, it is all this activism. But, you know, if they don’t like it, they can unfollow it.

Esther: Yeah, that is also part of your self-expression, isn’t it?

Kit: Absolutely, that is a very good way of putting it. As I have said I have an immense privilege, I am very lucky, I am white, I am Western-European, on the grand scheme of things if you were to rank the UK on a list of people being quite accepting of these things, we know that there are still problems in our society, and there are massive issues we need to overcome, but, really, we are in a relatively safe, relatively accepting place. And I am in Norwich which is again would be a top of that kind of list, and I work here for a company at the University of East Anglia. So I understand that I am exceptionally lucky that I can walk through these doors here at work and everybody is completely, kind of: wow, that’s nice I love your dress. Or, you are wearing your hair up, or down. But they are treating me like a human being, they are not treating me as anything special because of transgender; and the comments that I have had from people is: we are so glad that you can be you here, because this is what we need. We need to have diversity of everybody here, we need to have representation of different kinds of people because that is what makes the world a richer place and this is what the people here say to me. I feel I need to use this privilege to raise awareness, and you are not going to convince everybody.

Esther: No, of course not.

Kit: if people are still listening and they think I am a crackpot I can’t do anything to change these people’s minds. There is a famous guy on TV, which we won’t mention anything at all, but I will definitely raise a vegan sausage role for that person, nothing that will convince people like that what we feel is real, what we feel is genuine, and we are not making it up. And it really is how other people see you and me trying to use terms like not passing as female, but being read as female, so changing the terminology and putting it back onto other people, because I think you really do have to treat yourself with kindness and respect, in order to allow yourself to becomes strong and confident in who you are.

So the best piece of advice I could give others who are struggling with this, who are still in the closet is: don’t give up. It is exceptionally hard, especially if you are surrounded by misunderstanding, and hate, especially if it is coming from people you love. Or you are questioning your own love, because of maybe the reaction of people you are surrounded with. Maybe it is at work, maybe it is at home, but you can surround yourself with people who make you feel the opposite. So that is my biggest piece of advice, to surround with loving people who may not understand who exactly you are, or what you are going through, but they are just very happy and supportive to let you get on with it and treat you as a normal human being.

My work colleagues here they are just fantastic, they let me get on with it and be a human being and I don’t have that feeling, that monochrome tenseness/bitterness in the air, there is nothing like that here, so I don’t mind coming to work. Same at home, I love spending time with my wife and children, because even though we have still got some barriers to work through, I feel safe and I feel secure and I feel loved. And, where, sometimes, if I don’t feel like I can get that 100% at home I can still go out with some very close friends in the LGBT community that I just hangout with. There is the non-binary East Anglia group, for example, where you are just surrounding yourself with people how know what it is like it feels like, or Facebook social groups. They can get a little bit politick, a little bit heated, but there are some genuinely good social media support groups out there, which accept everybody, and allow you to rant and put what you like, say a positive thing that has happened, or a negative thing, but you will be listened to, and reacted to. And it may only be a like, or a ‘ha ha’ or an angry emoji reaction or whatever but you are going validation and reaction, and that is the biggest advice I can give is to surround you with people who allow you to be who you are.

Esther: Awesome, is there anything else you want to add?

Kit: No.

Esther: That was a pretty good ending, I was thinking!

Kit: I talk a lot! I don’t know if that is a personality or the bane of being a teacher, an ex-teacher. {laughing}

Esther: Probably a bit of both really, it is all about how you express yourself. So, yes, lets leave it there that was good.

Kit: Thank you for the opportunity.

Esther: Thank you so much for talking to me.

Picture of Kit with their family

About Kit

Kit Rackley is an ex-Geography high school teacher, now working as an education and program officer for a non-profit that promotes and facilitates collaboration between the climate and energy sectors.

In their spare time, Kit is a passionate educator, blogger, author and performer – focusing on environmental and LGBT+ issues. Although in their mid-30s, Kit only recently discovered their gender identity. They openly share their experience to add visibility to the trans community and help educate others on trans issues.

You can find out more about Kit on their website, geogramblings.com, and on Twitter, @geogramblings. They performed their piece ‘A River Called Gender’ at Norwich Pride 2019.

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