Jeffery Kingsley (http://www.jefferydraws.com/)
- Leif Gifford
6 Sam K. (they/them)
7 By: Vincent Tanner (they/them)
10 By: Felix Hercus (they/them)
14 By: Leif Gifford (they/them)
18 By: Huan-Wen Tsai (she/her)
22 By: Jessica Leung
24 A Short Story by Charlie Kryszak (they/them)
28 By: Cayce Ainsworth (they/them)
30 By: Sabrina Symington (she/her)
Fanzines (or “‘zines” for short) have existed since around the 70s and 80s in underground British communities. These were made by the punk rocker outcasts of society - many were from racialized groups, queer, or gender non-conforming in some way. I had my first interaction with ‘zines in the feminist community. I was a steady contributor to a zine in Scotland back when I thought that I was female. Although they claim to support non-binary identities as well, I didn’t feel comfortable contributing to them after I came out. There was an underlying cissexism there and a ghostly feeling of, “You do not belong here.” Mind you, I still love reading the publication online. I floated around to different small-time publications, trying to find my fit. I blogged for Acts of Greatness for 4 months. I wrote a piece on being genderfluid (which I ID’d with at the time) in Static Zine of Toronto. Still, I longed for more. The community I was seeing within feminists and punk rockers and fandoms and queerness, I didn’t see reflected back in me as a Canadian non-binary person. Things were too American. Too binarist. There was a void. When I worked at my part-time job, I remember day-dreaming about a solution to this problem. A maga-
zine made by non-binary people, for non-binary people. That’s how ENBY Magazine was born. It’s not about teaching people about what being non-binary means through handy “Education 101’s,” it’s about strengthening our own community. We will not be underground anymore. We will not be unnoticed anymore. We are Canadian, non-binary, and damn proud of it. I am so thankful for all the attention this has received and for all of the amazing contributions.
And so, I would like to end my first Letter from the Editor with my favourite quote: “We are the media.” - Amanda Palmer Don’t you ever forget it. Enjoy the magazine! Kind regards,
Leif Gifford Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ENBY Magazine
Canada’s first independent magazine produced by non-binary people, for non-binary people of all sizes, races, sexualities, abilities, religions, etc. We print in bigger font than most magazines so that we’re more accessible. If there’s anything that we can do better, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The idea to being “underground” is one that many, many non-binary people have faced at some point in their lives. Creating a safe space for expression and engagement for nonbinary people through print made by non-binary people is our primary goal. Representing voices that are seldom represented through an intersectional and deeply feminist lens. We are non-binary and we are here to stay!
Want to make some art, write articles, or just get in touch? Send us an email at email@example.com or check out our Issue #2 Call for Contributors here: http://bit.ly/2gzTCjz Join our email list here: http://eepurl.com/b2oNo5
Facebook- ENBY Magazine Twitter- @enbymag Tumblr - www.enbymag.ca
Help us pay our contributors (starting Issue #2-3), assist with printing costs, and get ENBY at a fraction of the cost!
Sam K. (they/them) English is a unique language given the Latin, Anglo-Saxon, and Norman French roots of its vocabulary combined with it’s Germanic grammatical system. It has a flexibility that many languages do not, and it's flexibility that allows us to easily create new vocabulary. This in turn allows us create new language for understanding gender - including new personal pronouns. This is not the case in every language though. In French, the relationship between grammar and meaning is far stronger than in English. Word order also tends to be stricter, which can make non-standard usage of pronouns difficult. This is not unusual to French; a majority of languages lack a grammar as flexible as English. How then does lack of flexibility affect how we understand and discuss non-binary genders in Canada’s neglected official language? Grammatical gender is a huge factor when it comes to discussing queer language and how it exists in French versus English. In English, grammatical gender is an archaic feature, save for the third person singular pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’. Since new words do not have to conform to grammatical gender, creating new personal pronouns is pretty easy as the only things left to consider would be tense and aspect. We’ve
seen this in the broadening of ‘they’, now used as a gender neutral third-person personal pronoun, as well as in the creation of completely new pronouns such as ‘xe’ and ‘hir’. In French, the combination of the presence of grammatical gender and lack of grammatical flexibility make it difficult to create new personal pronouns. Gender-neutral pronouns do exist already in French, but most of these are not meant to refer to the self and would not make sense as personal pronouns. However, online and in some Québecois communities, French Canadians have been using the pronoun ‘on’ as a gender neutral option.
Given the restriction of gender-neutrality in French, language use is left very much left to personal preference. It is difficult to say whether a universal queer vocabulary will ever exist in French (or even English for that matter), but despite this non-binary francophones have been making their language work for them! In Bitter Feels: A non-binary femme affirmation zine, Montréal based artist Billy Starfield discusses, among other things, how they navigate French as a gendered language. In Billy’s experience, they find the kindest way to navigate French as a non-binary person is to simply avoid the use of pronouns as a whole. In my own case, I tend to use ‘elle’ in academic situations as someone who tends to be perceived as a woman, and alternate between ‘il’ and ‘elle’ while in the company of French-speaking friends and acquaintances.
Regardless of usage, one can see that though the relationship between gender and language in French is
intrinsic but can never define us. Language is something that grows with us; something organic and beautiful!
By: Vincent Tanner (they/them)
Vincent Tanner is a non-binary writer and activist who currently lives in Washington, DC. They are the founder of Mx. & Co.
Regardless of usage, one can see that though the relationship between gender and language in French is intrinsic but can never define us. Language is something that grows with us; something organic and beautiful! In March, my life completely changed. On my 18th birthday this March, I left home without warning any of my relatives. The reason is not so straightforward, but I usually word it as the fact that I am queer, nonbinary and come from a southern, conservative, and Catholic family. When I moved to Washington, I didn’t really know what to expect, or how things would turn out. Even only 9 months after the fact, there’s a lot of things I wish I had done differently. There was, however, something I started in March that I am proud of, and that I hope to keep growing as time goes by. I started a website and online publication. At the time I called it “It’s Mx, Actually” but for the rest of this piece I shall refer to this project as “Mx & Co.,” its current name. The goal of this online publication was to give a platform explicitly to non-binary individuals. Any non-binary person of any assigned gender, race, religion, sexuality (trans or not) is welcome and encouraged to use the site as a publishing platform to their heart’s content. I set up a Patreon to make sure the site could keep running and that I might be able to start paying contributors. I was very proud of basically creating my own little business to try and put something I hadn’t seen before on the map. We accepted poems, art pieces, personal narratives, articles, analyses, podcasts, and anything under the sun. It didn’t matter what medium it was, or what the topic was either. What mattered was that it came from a non-binary creator.
I’m a nonbinary trans individual. As you might guess, that means I don’t really see much of myself or gain
much acknowledgement from the world in general. I notice and get excited simply when someone uses gender neutral language instead of insisting on a male and female binary. Now, as a white and AFAB nonbinary person, I’m aware that what very little representation nonbinary people do receive currently, reflects primarily similar experiences to mine. As a result, my primary goal in my own project was to do whatever I could to promote nonbinary voices different from my own. That’s actually a lot easier than it sounds. I found that many people were happy and excited for my project and to participate - even if they only did once. On my own time I reached out and made contact with as many non-binary people as I could. I’ve gotten to know so many beautiful people, even if they aren’t interested in working with me or publishing through “Mx & Co.”. Marginalized people make some the best works, not just because of the effort they make to include marginalized characters or voices or experiences, but the general emotional depth and understanding they are able to put into their work gives it a deeper dimension and a sensation of safety. Compassion is something we learn because we often receive so little of it from the rest of the world. This isn’t always true, but for the people I have come to know, that compassion in their work is what continues to drive me in life. As material to publish slowed, I decided to grow to include and promote work that included non-binary individuals - characters or members of a team - and not just material made explicitly by non-binary people. Of course it is somewhat difficult to run this all on your own. The past few months have been very difficult for me personally. I have difficulty finding energy or motivation for very simple tasks, much less writing and organizing, designing, or publishing. That’s a lot of defeat to carry around, and the loss of a very important election hasn’t really helped. Of course it would be against my nature to give up hope. I’m an idealist at heart, with big dreams and my head in the clouds, but a heart that in the end only wants to leave the world a better place than the one it entered. I see the glass as half empty, but I also believe that good people can find the pitcher and fill it back up again. I started this project thinking of myself as a Special One with the ability to Change Everything, and an ego to match. That’s the fallacy so many founders and people with privilege fall into. We forget humility and humanity as we convert our world into progress rates and numerical accomplishments. I don’t like that I’ve all but stopped “Mx & Co.” but I know that the step back and focus on my personal state and issues has
been immeasurably valuable. I think I may be getting closer to being ready to both work and keep myself
in check at the same time. The people who will change this world are the voices that I wish to promote. It will not be just one person, because it never really is. The success of individuals always comes from the work and collaboration of many. I have no desire to be the individual that succeeds, because I want the group that puts in the work to all receive the recognition that they deserve. Non-binary people have always existed. The history and culture of religions and races that acknowledged our existence has been erased or sidelined or simply written off as illogical. It is a crime what white, Eurocentric attitudes have done to the world and its history. I know that in my own way, whether meaning to or not, I have contributed to that. Nonbinary people are not just like me; they do not hold all the same opinions, present the same way, use the same pronouns, and do not have the same experiences as me, and sometimes are not anything close to a friend. We are human beings with endless possibilities and combinations and histories and voices. Thatâ€™s the goal, really. Thatâ€™s the plan. To allow everyone the opportunity to say that and do that in whatever way they want to. But also, to allow them the opportunity to say and do whatever they want about whatever they want, without the fear of their gender and their personhood being disrespected or called into question. This project is my baby. I am proud of the network it has grown and the beautiful things that have come from the people Iâ€™ve met because of it. I hope to gain new material and get back to publishing regularly soon. Especially with the future unsure in the States, and a government that will likely make things difficult for many queer people, I hope to provide some comfort and solace in the months to come. I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to pursue this project, and my biggest gratitude and thanks to every contributor, donator, and reader that has made this possible. Lastly, a special thank you to the wonderful people I live with, who have taken me in and supported me these past nine months and helped me grow as a person and as a writer. There are a million things I could say, and a million more I hope to in the future, but right now the most important thing I have to offer is my support. No matter who you are or where you come from, you are valuable and important. There are things you have to say or make or do that are worth hearing or seeing. I really believe that, and I hope that if you want to I can provide a way for you to be yourself.
art by Zac Slams
By: Felix Hercus (they/them) Zac Slams is a non-b collage and video artist working in Calgary, Canada. Currently, she is putting together an exhibition of 1000+ pornfeminist collages. See more of her work at slamslamslammed.tumblr.com.
What is the artistic process like for you? Messy. I just make things out of the crap I have lying around. I collect porn magazines, crime scene photos, movie posters, and comic books, cut them to bits, and glue them back together. I like juxtaposing things. Like, put homophobic headlines next to gay porn. Feminist slogans next to dead bodies. I make collages I want to see based on porn scenes I like or sex-and-gender dreams or old horror movies. I like collage because you can make something almost as quickly as you can think it. You've had multiple exhibitions in the past. What have been your best and worst experiences with a gallery? Exhibiting is always this ridiculous Freudian struggle for power. Some galleries have asked me to remove certain pieces from my exhibitions and one film festival asked me to edit out sections of my film. I always refuse to edit or remove work I’ve already installed or made. I guess the experience I don’t want is one where I have to email whatever arts administrator has been asked to handle me and ask them “Is it okay if I exhibit this? Is this too sexual? Is this too violent? Can I do this? Can I do that?” It’s like living with your parents or something, where you have to ask permission to do anything dangerous. How has your art been altered by your experiences with censorship? I’ve definitely exhibited less aggressive art at a few exhibitions just for the cash when I was really desperate for money. But I’ve also learned that you can say, “No, I’m not comfortable with that” to a gallery or a festival who wants to do something with your art that you don’t feel good about. Just like in any other business, you have to set limits to what you will put up with. You should be in charge and have agency over your own work, while accepting that sometimes you have to eat. That’s valuing yourself as an artist, while understanding the limitations of being a person.
Do you have a particular piece that you feel really sums up your identity? The process probably sums up my identity more than the end products. I’m constantly making collages, making myself. Just like my identity, the collages have multiple meanings. It’s kind of hard to separate your identity from the world you’re living in and my collages and videos are the same. Are they representing me or the society I’m trapped in or my feelings that day? I dunno, they’re all little pieces of the puzzle. Have the themes in your art been shaped by the local queer scene, and if so, how? In opposition to it? The local queer scene in Calgary is unfriendly at best. When I was younger I thought I would get into the queer scene and it would be a place of total freedom. Instead, I found out that there’s no such thing as a ‘safer space’ because every space has its own disciplinary norms. The queer scene in Calgary is a morass of mostly middle class, mostly white, and mostly masculine individuals. There’s a few little enclaves of exciting queers but they also feel cliquish. It’s a shitshow; there is no queer community. How have your experiences in school influenced the shape your works have taken? School has been a kind of incubation period for me. School has contained many of the recurring themes in
my work: stupidity, authority/power, loneliness, reading, feminism, etc. However, it’s been a drag… in both senses of the word. I’ve disliked most of my classes and I got an “F” grade in Biology. I’ve got to get out of here. Do you draw inspiration from any modern activists or groups? Who? I love what Black Lives Matter are doing in Toronto and across the world, but other than that, not really. I’m more inspired by people who are totally outside of the system—criminals, serial killers, porn performers, dreamers, drag queens, drunks, gang members, cult members, stray dogs, and Real Housewives.
The Real Housewives are the best resistance movement we have. In what way has your work evolved alongside your identity? It’s more like a feeling than anything. I want my audience to go inside my collages and be changed like I have been. I’m trying to make pictures of a world I actually want to live in, while also capturing everyday life. I try not to be ironic in the work, I don’t want to pull anything apart, I want to write how-to guides. Something like, ‘teach me how to be a criminal,’ ‘teach me how to live,’ ‘teach me how to fuck,’ ‘teach me how to disappear,’ ‘teach me how to die’. It’s about unintelligibility, invisibilism, intoxication, irrationality, and moving away from conventional thinking. Come get messy with me.
art by Zac Slams
’ By: Leif Gifford (they/them) Leif Gifford is a young, non-binary artist, writer, curator, zinester, editor, and friend from Toronto, Canada. They are also the founder of ENBY Magazine, and damn proud of it.
LongStory (a Canadian cellphone game) is huge because it deals with huge topics, such as relationships (both platonic and romantic), identity, and finding your place in the world.
Playable character and their friends Screenshot by Leif Gifford LongStory®
The story starts in your last year of middle school. You’ve moved to a new place and are starting your first day. Once there, you notice some notes in your locker which start your character down the journey of finding out what happened to the student who is missing - Em. You meet fun and loveable characters all along the way! Although LongStory is a bit too “young” for me - some of the conversations were silly, and the fights were
just downright ridiculous - it perfectly captures the kind of person I was at that age. Shy, sarcastic, dry, and crass, which to me shows that the team behind the screen is young at heart. Evidently, my favourite part of the game is the fact that you can choose your own presentation and pronouns, just like that, or even change them between episodes as you were playing along. It’s the perfect tool to see which pronouns or look is best for you. I only wish that there were more presentations to choose from! My other favourite part was the relationships that you could pursue. I met Marcel, and instantly flirted. And
Nora, who is the super-believable, super-lovable internet best friend I wish I had at that age.
Character selection menu Screenshot by Leif Gifford LongStory®
To get a better idea. I sat down with Michael Lyons, a wonderful person with whom I spoke to at length about the game and what it means to him and LongStory’s young, queer and trans fans: Can you speak to the trans character and why they’re important to the story? Em is introduced early on as a mysterious character who’s just completely disappeared and is absent from the narrative, and then they really spur the main character into investigating all of these relationships and secrets at the school and among their friends. Part of their backstory, which is touched on with their introduction, is that previous to their actual introduction in the game, they’re referred to with feminine pronouns, and the player character assumes that they’re a female character. They make this completely sudden entrance into the school, and I was really really happy that I got to tackle that. The first two episodes, without being like a Non-Binary 101, focuses on issues that a nonbinary person might face going to school; issues like which locker room do you use, pronouns.
The development as Em, like I said, at first I’m quite sure that Em was meant to be a queer woman in the arc of the story. It’s the same thing with the player character. At first, they were supposed to be a cisgender girl throughout the entire arc of the story, but we took this out to do focus groups and a lot of her feedback from queer youth were like, “Can I be a guy? Can I be non-binary? Can I choose my pronouns?” That’s why they created the character-creation where you can choose your pronouns and change your presentation separately. It’s not like normal video games, where you choose, “I’m going to be a female, and I am she forever.” You can also switch both of them throughout the arc of the game as well.
It’s one of the first video games I can think of where the player character can be non-binary, gender non-
conforming, in whatever way they choose. I think that’s what’s really fantastic about this too, that what cer-
tainly our fans prove time and time again, is what’s really important in Long Story is about the character, the arc of the story that fans create for themselves, as opposed to the story immediate onscreen. You could be a feminine-presenting person who uses they/them/theirs pronouns and that could mean something very different from one person to the next. Why does the game take place in middle school? I think it’s because during middle school you’re at the cusp of adolescence, for one thing, and all of the horrors that come with that. Middle school were the worst years of my life, just a miserable time for a number of different reasons, and I think that so few elegant stories focus on those years that I feel like it’s really important for them to create something for young people that age. I think one thing that fans really respond to is that we have a very sarcastic team, and young people really respond to sarcasm, and dark humour as well. Adults assume young people are all these totally innocent non-people, who have absolutely no idea about life and who they are, but I’m sure that you can speak to your being a young person and I get to speak to mine, where I understood quite a lot when I was young, just there was nothing really there for me to help sort through everything. I think Long Story is something that helps you parse out those emotions as a young person. Do you think it’s coming at a good time now, where kids are learning about themselves younger and younger, especially with the internet? Internet friends, it touches a lot on that. I think of the young people that I know in my life, how young people have so many more resources and such more elegant ways of exploring identity than I had when I was a young person. For better or for worse, identity politics exist, and young people have words to put to themselves, and I think that’s a really, really helpful thing for young people. I think we also are a team that’s trying to react to something, to speak to the current context of young people’s lives.
Why combine the dating sim and the mystery aspect? A part of that I can certainly speak to is that we also wanted to give an option of also it not being a dating sim, so you can absolutely choose, if you don’t want to, to not date anyone. You can still flirt with people, but the game is committing to a relationship arc, start in episode three, and you fully commit in episode four. The entire team is really passionate, especially myself, about still having a story, and an engaging story, for people who don’t want to explore relationships. There can certainly be ace people, if you don’t want to explore a relationship in that way, or if it’s just not something that interests you in a game. The non-dating pathway is with Nora and her best friend, so it still
explores a turbulent time in a relationship where there’s this big secret, and the secret comes out. One
way or the other, you still get to experience a pathway and a story about a relationship, it just isn’t a ro-
mantic one. That was really important to the entire team. It’s important that, if you don’t want it to be a dating sim, that you can still get something out of it. How has the game been received so far? It sort of shocks me how enthusiastic and obsessive our, especially our younger players, are. I think we’re pretty big on Tumblr, we have a big Tumblr following. And, especially with the queer and trans communities, that are really passionate about Tumblr. I think that’s a really wonderful thing for me to see. We’ve had a ton of fanart, which always blows me away. The fact that I worked on something that somebody takes this time to create a really beautiful thing is so wonderful. As far as reviews and things, we’ve gotten some really decent press. I think it’s been really positive, and there hasn’t been - I hope not - much negative stuff. One thing that I was really, really impressed with and really happy with was this a young person from Sweden created this beautiful, beautiful comic around the kiss scene with Marcel in Episode 5. They illustrated the entire kiss scene from start to finish. It was gorgeous! I think that’s sort of the most meaningful thing anybody could ever do. To see my words in that, I just can’t even comprehend. I think that the fan response and the response among the youngins of Tumblr has been really mind blowing. That’s one thing LongStory really gives to its players. It’s somewhere between a concrete, playercharacter who is also a blank slate that I think they can pour a lot of themselves into. That really speaks to fandom communities. Your character can literally be, at least in your own mind, whoever you want them to be. My rating: 5 stars LongStory has its quirks, but the art and text is heartwarming, telling a long story of a young person coming into themselves. It is also a very timely game. It gives me hope that future generations learn about the different ways they can be much earlier and find media such as this that tells them to be themselves.
Buy LongStory on Google Play: http://bit.ly/2gTaUJ2
By: Huan-Wen Tsai (she/her) Alec Butler (they/he) is an award-making playwright and trans, Two Spirit, and intersex activist. Learn more about them at: alecbutler.com.
How long have you lived in Toronto? A: Since ‘83. I went to my first Pride march [in Toronto] in 1984. It was just 4,000 people back then and we had to fight to take over the street. What made you choose to settle down in Toronto? A: I grew up in a very small village in the east coast, Cape Breton Island. There was really nothing there. There wasn’t any employment. There wasn’t any work. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be an artist. I heard about a theatre company here. A gay, queer theatre company, so I became involved with them: Buddies and Bad Times. I had some plays produced and made a name for myself doing that. One of my plays was nominated for the Governor-General’s Award in 1991 and that made me kind of international. I was in the theatre world for about 20 years, until the late 90s. When I started calling myself “Alec” in 1999 - I changed my name to Alec - I started working with a new medium called film. I made films, short videos. One was an animated series of films called,
“Misadventures of Pussy Boy,” about this young kid who’s coming out as intersex, Two-Spirit, and falling in love for the first time. Those films have been screened at many, many film festivals, including ones in Vancouver, Toronto, San Francisco, Mexico City, and most recently, in Berlin and Amsterdam. They were screened at the International Transgender Film Festival in Amsterdam and won the “Best Audience Short” award. Even though I’m an artist, I make very little money doing that, so I’m also a social worker, working on weekends with homeless people. During the week, I try to work on my art - my films, my poems.
A couple of years ago, I just decided to go back to university. I didn’t finish my degree because of the
queerphobia 30 years ago. I was in university, I knew I wouldn’t get far, and also, what I was learning wasn’t really stimulating me. We were learning about white philosophy, white psychology, white literature… White everything. There wasn’t any Aboriginal content. I was quite frustrated that I didn’t see myself anywhere. Nothing queer either, although there’s more of that now. In the past couple of decades or so, there’s been more Queer Studies, more Gender Studies, Women’s Studies. So I decided to go back to school. I’m going to school, and working, and trying to make a living as an artist, and being a social worker. You identify as Two-Spirit and Métis. Could you explain a little about being Two-Spirit, and if there is any difference between the terms genderqueer/ non-binary and Two-Spirit? Well, to be Two-Spirit, you definitely have to have some Indigenous background in your family history. To be genderqueer, you don’t need that. It covers all races, I guess you could say. Two-Spirit is actually an English term that came out of Winnipeg in 1989. The Native American lesbian and gay people had a big conference in Winnipeg and they were looking for a word, an umbrella term, for all their different identities. There are a lot of First Nations - they also each have their own language - so the term is in their own language. Anishinaabe, Cree, Mohawk, those are the main ones. So they just wanted this [cross-language] term. It’s quite controversial because it doesn’t quite embrace it all. Two Spirit male, female, is what the base of it is. It’s not something you could define in a sound byte, it’s a complex identity.
In Navaho, they recognized, before colonization, six genders. Depending on who you were connected to and what your role was in the community, you would be given that name. Through colonization, the first people that were targeted by the colonizers, through genocide, were the Two Spirit people because of our high regard in our communities. We were quite revered in our communities because we had special gifts. We were often at the Gateway of Life, rituals around birth and death, participating in these rituals. So, it was a very honoured position. We also worked really hard and contributed to our community, helping bring up the children - to teach them the ways of our Nations, the history, which is also oral. The boundaries and protocols of living a good life.
That’s what being on the paths, being Aboriginal, is towards living a good life.
Through the residential school system, which was mostly controlled by the church, they injected quite a lot
of homophobia into Native communities. There’s a huge fear of Two Spirit people in Aboriginal communities right now. We’re trying to alleviate that, educate our own communities about our history and our own story, and where we belong in the Circle. For Aboriginal people, it’s all about the Circle and belonging and where you are. When you’re sitting in a Circle, everybody’s equal. We’re all equal. There’s no hierarchy. It’s also an identity that has to do with celebrating sex and sexuality, too. Whatever your sexuality is, it should be celebrated. We’re trying to recover. We don’t think it’s been lost - it just needs to be found. They’re in the stories, there are clues. What needs to happen is more Aboriginal, Two Spirit people need access to these tool to discover their own history. They need access to Elders who remember it and can tell the stories before they die. So, it’s quite an undertaking to come out as Two Spirit in this world, in this community. It’s part of the healing journey of what we call the “Red Path,” the Medicine Wheel. The four directions of healing; healing the spirit, the body, the mind, and the psyche - it’s all living in balance. Taking care of each other. In my family, my African, Indigenous ancestry wasn’t celebrated. It was something to be ashamed of when I was growing up. That’s the terrible legacy of colonialism. It imposes its rules on your mind, even on your emotions. How you feel about these things. Could you tell us about the next project or idea that you’re working on? Yeah! I’m going to make another film - a little animated cartoon. I’m learning Ojibwe, and I want to make a
film telling a little, ten-minute story in that language and illustrating it myself. My next project is to hopefully, take pictures of drawings that I’ve been doing for it, and do a voiceover with help from my tutor, who’s been helping me pronounce the words correctly. I’m hoping that my university will use it as a teaching tool. I’m also always looking for new things to do. Hopefully, writing more books. I’ve started submitting my poetry to different literary magazines and my poetry is quite gritty. I’m not sure how much luck I’ll have there. It’s full of sexual stuff, deep stuff that people want to shy away from because it’s uncomfortable. I live to bring that out and make people uncomfortable. It’s only in your uncomfortableness that you learn, that you
may be changed, that you may realize the propaganda that you have been swallowing all these years.
That is the mission of mine, to do it in a loving way. My culture, and other people that I have met from Ab-
original communities over the years, have taught me that honouring the ancestors is very important. So, I keep the ancestors in my mind whenever I’m working on something creative. “What would they think of this? Would they support it?” My own grandparents, especially my grandfather, always accepted me and loved me no matter what. They knew I was queer from a young age. They never made me feel weird or strange about it, they just loved me. So I remember that. My parents, too. My family adored me more than society. Society wanted to wipe me out, wanted me invisible. My family told me, “Don’t let them do that! You’re an amazing person and you’ll do great things.” So, I had that. That’s so amazing. Do you have anything to say to all the non-binary folks out there, that it does get better? Be proud of who you are. You’re beautiful and you’re making a huge contribution to the future generations – those that will come after you. To change the world and make it a better place for everybody. Like the Black Lives Matter [Toronto] people saying, “We’re doing this for everybody. Because once they start treating us better, they’ll start treating everyone better.” I also believe that when I was a policy consultant at The 519, I was one of the first people to educate other people in this city about trans people, genderqueer people, Two-Spirit people, and people were fighting it. They didn’t want to know about it because they had to change. And I said, “Well, if you make things better for us, then it’ll be better for everybody. It’ll be better for nontrans people, too.” That’s the way it works. When you make things better for the most vulnerable people in
society, everybody benefits.
Jessica Leung is a gender neutral, deaf, POC from British Colum-
By: Jessica Leung
bia. She is a poet, zinester, and is involved in movement workshop and dance. She is one of the stewarding leaders of the BC Cascadia Deaf Nation chapter. Visit their website here: cascadiadeafnation.tumblr.com.
I was once that child-like form. Free. Happy. Life brimming in brown almond eyes. Hair pulled up in pony tail or pigtails. Small button nose. Light skin. Brown hair. Small hands and feet. Light weight. No expectation to ask for more. I wore this gadget shaped like glue plastered in my ears all day, every day, to communicate with my family. You would call them “hearing aids”. My ears not being able to breathe so sometimes you see me take them off, have this high pitch squeal, and see me try to itch from time to time. Family values the trend of sound and speaking preferably to be social “normal”. Naive, hyperactive and clueless to know the world can be a dangerous place. A child like me can easily identify something is amiss like moving away or something wonderfully exciting like your own birthdays.
Communication is very crucial at the time. For a child who is misunderstood in a visible to invisible Assumption to believe that is okay. Anger: “Is okay, she doesn’t need to know this.” Human Connection: “We will plan ahead without her thoughts, opinion and ideas.” And then be the last person notified. Curiousity:
“Let’s just go!” Cultural Assumption: “She can’t hear!” But I can see. Lost communication: “I am not repeating that again!” A child like me who is very intelligent even if you did not say or expose anything. This child will strive to the point where creation of innovation, expression, and identity. How did I get from here? How I create myself to be who I am? I will tell you my story.
What do you know about me? The colour that define me, my wounds of survival, and shapes that of my journey. Instinctively, Would you run and hide? Would you scream and yell? Would you try to approach me and make movement, eye contact to form communication? Forming a protection into bubbles - barriers, boundaries. Would you burst those bubbles or keep pressing to hold the weight of heaviness, responsibility? Fear or embarrassed of my reaction, my response? Shaken by emotional, physical - flight Cognitive thoughts reflect behavior, Visions filled with unimaginable ongoing train, Clouding in my head, negativity exposed Do: Take a moment Take a breath Think of the present Think of the smell Think of where you are Think of who you are Think of who you are with. See Where you are, The building that is man made by architects People who support you and passing by, trees and plants of this land Are you safe? Who you are - clothing, your hands, feet, face
Are you well? Who you are with? Lover, friends, family and many supporters. Are you welcomed? How are you feeling? Feeling okay? Take as much as you want, as much time as you want This is your space This is your time
This is your journey
A Short Story by Charlie Kryszak (they/them) The sun comes up and I have gotten no sleep at all. Between the dread that has settled in and the constant aches and pains from a body still adjusting to cybernetic augmentation, sleep is the last thing that’s going to happen. I turn my head to check the time and wince at the shock of pain that shoots through my neck. I see the date and I know the reason for the dread. Today is family visitation day. Specifically, today is the first family visitation day that my family has elected to attend. Some of my fellow residents look forward to this day. They tell me it’s a chance to heal. To move on from all the hurt that lingers. I tell them that our families sent us to this place to be experimented on and turned into human-machine hybrids. We have every right to be hurt. We should not have to move on because they can’t face the reality of what they did. My head is full of fog as I push myself through my morning routine. I dress with my back to the mirror. I can deal with being three-quarters human, one quarter cybernetic. I can’t deal with how they ignored me when I asked them to fix my chest. I hate my chest and how the sight of it makes everyone around me think woman when that is not what I am. I’m not a woman. I’m not a man, either. Maybe both, maybe
none. I pay close attention to my left leg as I stretch. Of all my body parts, that is the one closest to being pure cybernetic. They don’t like it when you try to run away. I found that out the hard way when they tried to crush me with a car. The people in charge tell me that my body has adapted well to augmentation. I don’t like it. I’m still alive, yes, because the survival rate here is abysmal no matter what they report. However, surviving means my family gets what they want: money in exchange for handing me over. The family visitation takes place in the courtyard, a strip of concrete between the school and residential wings. I can see it from the window at the top of the stairs, so I head there in order to prepare.
Echo, one of my only friends here, has beaten me to it. They cross their arms over their chest and glares. “Look at them,” they say through clenched teeth. “They send us here and now we’re supposed to be happy to see them?” I stand beside them. The scene in the courtyard is jovial. “I guess that’s what they think,” I say. Echo shakes their head. They give my shoulder a squeeze and walk back in the direction I came from. “You’re not doing it, huh?” “You were born male and you’ll always be a man. That’s the last thing my father said to me.” Echo
shakes their head. “I never want to see them again. Good luck.” My family huddles by the tree. They look cleaner and healthier than I ever saw them. That’s the
trade-off. Send your unwanted kin to this place, get a nice stack of cash in return.
Warning lights flash in the corner of my vision as I clomp down the stairs. My vitals are screwed up. My heart beats too quickly and I can’t get a decent breath in. That’s not a surprise. I am about to meet the people who handed me over to this place. And for what? Telling them the truth. Telling them that I wasn’t going to marry that guy they wanted me to, because he wanted a nice, proper woman and I was not a woman at all, let alone a nice, proper one. I take a deep breath. The warning lights go away. I clench my hands into fists and clomp down the stairs. I hesitate for just one more moment at the door to the courtyard, then walk out to face the day. My family looks cleaner and healthier than they ever did when I lived with them. That’s the tradeoff. Hand your child over to be experimented on, get enough money to buy a place in the city. My brother sees me first. He takes two steps toward me and retraces them when he meets my eyes. I expected that. I look the same, except not. It’s my mother who finally steps forward to greet me. Just by the look on her face, I can tell it’s going to be a painful encounter. “Hello, honey,” she says. Pet names. Oh, God, here we go. “It’s been a while.” I just stare at her. My jaw clenches so tightly I’m worried my teeth are going to break. What do I say? What the hell do I say to this person? “Honey, they just told us the wonderful news!” my mother says. “You’re doing so well in your new situation that they think you’ll be able to come home!” “You’re kidding, right?” The words are out before I realize I’ve spoken. All three of them gape at me, as though I’ve replied in a foreign language. “Honey, you’re coming home!” I’ve had enough of the pet name. “Stop calling me honey,” I snap. “You know what my name is.”
They won’t use it. They won’t use any words that remind them of my gender. I can see the wheels turning in her head. What can she say to make me forget about that one request? “Honey, I know we’ve had some difficulties…” “Some difficulties?” My voice approaches the dog-whistle frequency. Heads turn. “I can’t even begin to tell you how much of an understatement that is!” My father steps forward. Time for the big guns. He’s here to tell me to sit down, shut up, respect my elders, all that fun stuff. He doesn’t get the chance, because just as he’s opening his mouth, a shrill alarm cuts through the morning air. The courtyard is doused in red light.
My brother covers his ears. “What’s that sound?!” he shouts over the alarm.
I shake my head. “Inside,” I say. I point to the door. “You have to get inside.”
My mother hesitates. I have no problem leaving her there. I concentrate on getting my brother—always struggling with a sensitivity to sound—into the building where the alarms are quieter. Security officers sweep the courtyard and bark orders at everyone to get inside. Cori is on roll call, standing by the door as we come in. Their eyes flicker from person to person; they don’t even need to look at the tablet in their hands. “What’s happening?” I whisper to them. Cori volunteers with the tech area of things. They might have heard. “Someone’s gotten fed up with our existence again,” Cori replies with a roll of their eyes. The shelter is just one of the interior hallways, fitted with heavy fire doors at either end. The doors slam shut and the only light left comes from the red security lights. “What’s going on?” my brother asks. “You live in the city,” I reply. “Have you heard of a group called HumansNow?” My brother shakes his head. My mother nods. “Well, they’re really mad that people like me exist,” I say. “Like, destroy this building, kill us all sort of mad.” “That’s wrong,” my brother declares. “You’re still a person. Mostly.” I smile at him. The walls shudder. My breathing picks up again. “Wait, you still breathe?” my brother says. I nod. “Of course. I’m still mostly a person.” He shrugs. “Where’s the fun in being a cy—” “Michael!” my mother snaps. “That’s enough!” That does it. Someone has to lay this out for her. “Can’t bear to hear the word, huh?” I say. “I get it. This place is pretty hush-hush.” “There are other groups working on cybernetics and such,” my father says.
“Hmm. But how many of them rely on unwilling people sold off by their families?” The corridor goes silent. I thought I was speaking quietly, but apparently I was loud enough for everyone to hear. “We didn’t—” “They gave you money in exchange for the right to hold me here against my will and experiment on me.” Now I’m speaking through gritted teeth. “You’re being unfair,” says my mother. “I told you I was transgender, and two days later, I wake up in this place,” I say. “What were we supposed to do with you spreading that toxic idea around?” my father growls.
The walls shudder. Dust rains down from above. My augmented hearing picks up voices. It’s defi-
nitely a HumansNow group. How did they get in? Did they find a way to exploit Family Day?
“I don’t know what to say, honey,” my mother finally says. “What do you want me to say?” “I don’t want you to say anything,” I reply. “Once upon a time, I wanted your apology, but I know how you can say words and not mean them. I don’t want to get caught in that trap.” My mother walks away. My father stares at the wall. My brother stares at me. I look away to break the awkwardness and I see most of the people around us are watching, too. Am I getting through? Do they understand? “Look. We need to forget about that stuff.” My father finally has something to say. “We need to move on, as a family.” “I don’t want to move on as a family. I want to move on as a person.” “Honey—” My mother wrings her hands. “When this is all over…are you prepared to burn bridges?” I look at her. I think of the anxiety that nearly tore me apart as I came out to her. I think of her reaction—eye rolling, scoffing, a terse that’s not a real thing—and I think of how she sent me here. I sigh. “Yeah, I think so,” I say. “You got what you wanted, didn’t you? A nice life in the city. You just had to sacrifice your child for it. So just go on and pretend that I died during the weeks, months of experimentation they performed on the poor undesirable child you threw away and that’s that.” “I loved you.” “You sure didn’t show it.” The emergency lights stop flashing. The doors unlatch. The intruders have been dealt with. “Sorry to cut this short, everyone,” says a voice over the PA. “Family visitations are over. All family members, please make your way to the shuttles.” My father is out the door as fast as his feet can take him. My brother hovers, but eventually follows. My mother stands there. “I loved you,” she says. “I wanted to help you.” “You could have helped me by doing what mothers are supposed to do,” I reply. “Love me, support me, know that I knew what I was doing.”
“We may never see each other again.” “I planned on never seeing you again when you dumped me off here. I’ll get over it.” “What are you going to do with your life?” I take a deep breath. I had honestly not thought of it. I’ve been too busy trying to adjust to my new life. I’ve figured it out, though. “I’m going to get into activism,” I say. “I’m going to show these people that just because we’re different doesn’t mean we’re less than human.” A final forlorn glance, and my family is out the door. I may never see them again. I take a deep breath and realize that I am okay with this. I turn and walk away. I have work to do.
By: Cayce Ainsworth (they/them) About eight hours’ drive northwest of Ottawa, there’s a blue-collar town called Timmins. While there used to be more than one industry, pretty much all that’s left is digging elaborate ant-tunnels under everyone’s feet, sifting through thousands of tons of stone and brackish water to find a few ounces of rocks that shine just a little differently than all the other shiny rocks. I was born in Timmins, raised on its mine tours, company grocery vouchers, and forest paths with marked off sinkholes and abandoned shafts. When you spend your formative years in towns defined by what goes on beneath your feet, the underground becomes a part of your identity. Everyone either has or knows somebody who has spent time in a cage, being lowered into the hot damp earth, eating there, shitting there, under a ceiling two miles thick. There’s a background hum of reluctant acceptance to everyday life that the earth may open up and swallow you whole at any point, and that’s just the way it is. That leaves a mark on you. The slag gets in your blood, the soot in your breath. It’s fitting then to realize you’re queer when you’re from these places. The underground is familiar territory; in darkness there’s a sense of stability, but staying too long can also be
suffocating. Living queer and coming out up North is a different experience than most other places. We have no closets in the North. When we come out, it’s either through a crater that’s been punched into the ground, or when the moss and lichen have been pulled off a piece of quartz, exposing us to the air. We’re the gold vein hidden just under the surface and the precious ounce of minerals found after wading through three tons of ore. There are no queer community centres in Timmins, and the closest gay bar is itself underground, four hours away in Sudbury, a block away from where my cousin got his jaw broken for refusing
to give up a round of foosball. When other queers from small towns tell me where they’re from, it’s generally safe for me to congratulate them on their escape without worry of misinterpreting. These places have always been our homes, our nests; but they’re also painful reminders of what was, the way our bodies were seen, the way friends called us by names that no longer exist. In these small spaces, it’s not rare to run into childhood bullies, or have panic attacks crossing the parking lots and school yards we used to congregate at as awkward kids, unaware of what was going on inside us. Going back is so often a painful experience.
Getting to know myself after coming out was, in a way, an exploration of my hometown roots. It at least
gave me a new appreciation for an affinity with the dirt, and what lay underneath it. It was a framework to
help me understand, after all these years, that I wasn’t living on the surface at all. I was a collection of gems waiting to see the light once my shell was cracked open. To outsiders, we’ve arrived as if we crawled out of the earth, bizarre creatures that challenge perceptions of what’s natural, but we’ve always been there. We instill fear and anxiety, though we’re as much a product of the environment as anything, only we’ve tapped into a more secret, more ancient knowledge. Cis folks know street names and directions to the closest gas station. We know the flow of underground rivers and the movement of tectonic plates. It’s impossible not to when coming into your own means having
been ground up and polished before climbing from of the dirt. We’re often still caked in shit as a result, but our surfaces shine so much more now that they’re not hidden behind a thick mass of carbon. It’s common enough to hear that non-binary identities are the fictitious creation of a generation desperately trying to find new material with which to rebel. Our identities have always existed though, and when they weren’t visible, it’s because they were being pushed back into the ground, where they stayed until either people forgot, or until the pressure built up enough to rattle the earth. That’s ultimately what scares them. We are a force of nature. It’s for these reasons that it makes so much sense to me how often we were considered channels and mediums for magic before men in red gowns decided they were in charge. We knew something others didn’t because we were something others weren’t. We formed our own paths and roles. We were sought out for our knowledge and experience. We reached into the ground, spoke with the dead, and shared their words with those that forgot how to hear them. I recently went back to my hometown in what I decided would be a marathon circuit of my coming out to friends and family, namely my father in Timmins and my mother in Sudbury. After spending the daytime pulling up bathroom flooring and laying pipe, my evenings were spent queer-watching at the only coffee shop in town open past 4pm that wasn’t a Tim Horton’s. I could’ve never done this twenty years ago. These kids, with their extenders and turquoise hair and public hand-holding, hadn’t yet been hatched. They were waiting for the right time, the right rock to get cracked in half and the right hole to open up and let them climb out.
By: Sabrina Symington (she/her) Sabrina Symington is the creator of Life of Bria , Vancouverâ€™s premiere transgender themed webcomic. She is also a model, illustrator, Karate expert, and uses her platform to converse with other members of the LGBTQ+ community. While she is not non-binary herself, as a transgender woman, she is using her platform to share non-binary stories along with her own. Support Life of Bria on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/LifeofBria
Published on Dec 15, 2016