Words by Maggie Zhou Art by Joelle Thomas
No act of rebellion will ever match the sneakiness of tearing the perforated edges of a sealed Dolly Doctor section. The secrets of love, relationships, friendship drama and sex all ready to be revealed within your worn library-borrowed magazine.
I sat down to talk to Malachi Van Souphan, one of the Queer Officers at Monash Caulfield. Here we dive into some anonymous questions surrounding gender identity and the like.
I don’t really understand the spectrum of gender identities. I was never taught this in school so it’s all relatively new to me. Can you please help explain?
Malachi: The truth is, biology is just weird. Humans can have all different sets of X and Y chromosomes. In nature, there are fish who are male because they developed in a certain environment, or they underwent natural sex because the one male fish in the colony. So it’s not weird for humans to have different gender identities as well – male, female, in between, outside or otherwise. After all, gender is a social construct. Depending on the culture or society we were raised in, we have different ideas on gender. I mean look at the issue surrounding gender neutral bathrooms. There’s one in everyone’s house so I don’t know what you’re on about. Gender has been politicised but really it’s not that complicated. Gender is your choice.
Is questioning your gender a normal part of understanding yourself?
Malachi: It’s a normal part of puberty and growing up to question your own gender. It usually straightens out for most people. Like, “oh, I understand what’s going on – I was always a tomboy as a kid but no, I still identity as female.” For other people, it’s very different. They might be very girly as a kid and end up being a male, or vice versa or any other combination. When I was younger, I always questioned my gender. But the thing is, I never knew that people who were transgender were a thing. That was mostly because of misconceptions, cultural norms, social fears and lack of representation.
What would you suggest to someone questioning their gender identity?
Malachi: First thing I would recommend is experimentation. When I first came into the Queer Lounge I wasn’t sure of my gender; I was scared I wasn’t going to be accepted among my own peers. At first I thought I didn’t mind using any pronouns, but when I realised how comfortable and validated I felt when people used him/he pronouns for me, it really helped. So sometimes it does take a lot of trial and error to be able to find an identity that you feel most comfortable with.
What are the etiquettes of chatting to a friend who has come out as trans or queer?
All you need to do is sit down and talk to them. If you’re understanding and kind and not deliberately cruel, the person should be willing to chat. Just say, “hey, I know you’ve just come out as trans and this isn’t something that I’m familiar with. I still know that you’re my friend and I may slip up a bit because this is new for me. If I do, let me know and I will correct myself.” Be curious but be kind.
If you are Queer identifying, questioning or just want to find out more, visit the Queer Lounge in Building S. Or chat to your welcoming Queer Officers, Malachi and Elijah, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.