I’m both a man and a woman and neither at the same time. Confused? Good, now you’ve got a sense of what it’s like in my shoes. I came out as genderqueer almost two years ago. It was the first important step was coming out to myself and accepting my incongruence with the gender binary. For most of my life in the closet, I thought I was a transwoman; it was the only option on the table that made sense to me. When I discovered that I wasn’t limited to the gender binary, I started to realize that I am a bit more complicated. My beard has been a big part of my identity since I started college. I don’t think it clashes with my femme persona and manner of dress; it’s simply who I am. The last two years of living out and proud have had its ups and downs, but I’m genuinely happier than I’ve ever been. It’s great to feel comfortable in your own skin. Honesty and openness have become very important to me. I don’t have anything to hide.
Even though the world doesn’t typically recognize me for who I am, that doesn’t change my resolve to live my life the way I want to. People see my beard and perceive me as male, no matter how much time I spent coordinating my outfit, or how well the shoes match the dress. I hope that being visibly queer will help bring courage to others and help more people feel comfortable in their own skin.
JP Stern, age 31
Gender Identity: gender non-conforming/genderfuck/genderqueer