7 Questions – Oliver

I have a big ol’ soft spot for our next participant.  I met Oliver through #transchat and we later excitedly exchanged poetry recommendations.  Just today he sent me his thoughts on Kant & euthanasia, a sure route to my geeky heart.

You can learn more of Oliver here and here.

Thanks Oliver!

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1) What’s your name? Chosen or otherwise.

My name is Oliver Leon. It’s fitting since, like little Oliver Twist, I am often asking for a second plate of food.

2) Who has been most supportive of your transition? If you haven’t started transition, who’s been most supportive of your gender expression, questioning or explorations?

Many people come to mind—I am not sure I could choose someone who has been ‘the most’ supportive but I would like to give a shout-out to two friends in particular.

Amy is a friend I have had since grade ten in high school. When I came out to her as bisexual in grade eleven, she stopped using the word “faggot”. She has since made huge leaps to join me as a supportive trans ally today. She is now the one who calls out others on their homophobic language.

She helps me stay on the bright side when I am feeling low (which is often) and always knows the right moment to make a Harry Potter joke.

Kota is someone whom I have only known for a year but she has always been delighted with any gender decisions and/or expressions I make. She teaches me something new almost every time we meet. She held my hand on my first injection of testosterone and I will forever be grateful to her for doing that.

3) What do you most enjoy about your life since beginning transition? That is, what are some of the things you love doing now, that you couldn’t do before? And if you’re not there yet, what about the possibility of transition excites you the most? What do you look forward to?

I think the things I enjoy the most are being able to express myself more fully and having wonderful friends around me who love me for who I am. I’m looking forward to having top surgery so that I can one day run around on a beach, shirtless and happy.

4) Who are your trans role models? or Who have you looked up to in the trans community? Who inspires you? Whether it’s someone you know, or someone you’ve admired from afar, this is your chance to give a shout out.

So many people! Kate Bornstein and her work has helped me stay alive. S. Bear Bergman and Ivan E. Coyote really helped me out in terms of figuring out my gender, learning more about writing and storytelling, and generally being a bad-ass queer (who keeps kind). On a more local level, all the trans people I have met give me daily inspiration to keep loving and keep fighting for a better world.

5) What change(s) would you most like to see in the world? This can be trans related, or not, but we’d love to know where your passion lies.

I want to dismantle the kyriarchy and create a world without oppression. I want to make education accessible and free for all. I want to make life a hell of a lot more creative and fun. I’d love to teach the entire world about consent.

When I feel really awful—like an open wound aching–I remind myself that in this life I have made people smile. And that is enough.

6) What are you doing to make those changes happen? That’s right all, no getting off the hook! We’re all in this big ol’ mess together, and we each need to do our part. Share with us how you’re the change you want to see.

I have a monthly column called “That Transsexual Guy” in Concordia University’s newspaper, The Link, in which I discuss trans* issues. I often happen to mentor, counsel, and/or support trans* people in my day-to-day life, both online and offline (I say ‘happen to’ because it does feel rather like something I have stumbled into as a joyful accident). I provide peer support and active listening services at the 2110 Center for Gender Advocacy. Upon request, I also give workshops on self-care and anything else you think I would be qualified to give.

I’m quietly working on a documentary film with Garry Beitel, a local filmmaker. It will have me talking about being transsexual, although so far the focus of the film is not about being trans. Still, I think it’s exciting to have my transition documented by a professional! I really hope his request for grants and things works out ‘cause I think this will turn into a beautiful film. He’s going to film me in the barbershop this Friday. I’m probably going to complain about hyper-gendered spaces.

7) Tell us something, anything, special and unique about you, your interests, your story. Never forget, gender is just one part of the larger project of becoming a fully authentic human being.

I like that I have stayed kind and tender-hearted, despite fighting against cissexism, depression, homophobia, self-destructive feelings, anxiety, external doubt, etc. Even though I am sad a lot, I do have many ambitions and dreams to be excited about—it’s a matter of trying to keep everything in perspective. I am not always successful with this so I am really glad to have my chosen family around to give me hugs when I ask for them.

I really like how my open mouth about gender, poetry, and feelings have led others to be more comfortable expressing themselves. Wearing your heart on your sleeve is an act of honesty that helps other people iron out their own feelings. I didn’t have anyone to really help me out when I was confused about gender nor when I first started my transition so I love that I can be that person for others. I hope that I can continue anti-oppressive work to make the world a safer space for everybody.

Thanks for listening to my story. Keep on keeping on.

In love and solidarity,

Oliver Leon

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