“You always pick on my words. I don’t know what I say that hurts you, but you get angry at me anyway.”
These words from my mother, after I angrily told her that she said something ignorant about my mental health, made me realise that our language and cultural barriers are stronger than I initially thought — with future discussions surrounding my queerness and gender identity feeling more and more impossible to have. After consulting my sister, temporarily removing myself from home, and reflecting on our miscommunication, I came to realise that the things she said that might have felt invalidating to me, were actually her improperly conveyed thoughts thrown together with whatever words she could hold on to. Spending her early adulthood in Australia, my mother’s English is proficient enough to allow us to converse almost entirely in English, so I sometimes forget that it’s her second language — and one that she never received complete, formal education in. With her inability to wholly express her thoughts and feelings in English, combined with my less-than-ideal level of Mandarin, discussions surrounding more nuanced topics such as politics, gender, mental health, queerness and other social issues become all the more difficult to have.
When I was young, I thought that when I got married I’d obviously change my last name. My own surname is 14 letters long and despite it being phonetic, nobody can pronounce it, let alone spell it. I don’t even think I knew how to spell my own surname until I was in school, so I thought I would change my name to my husband’s, even if it was as conventional as Smith.
From a male’s point of view, I do not understand how sensitive men have become. I do not understand the backlash against the Gillette ad and I don’t understand why so many men, are threatened by a gentle progressive turn towards inclusivity, or even by having more women and minorities in positions of power in films and TV shows.
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.
“You are the man of the house now, you’d better protect your mum and sister. You hear me? You better man up.” That’s what my dad would tell me every single time he went on a work trip. And since the ripe age of four, I questioned, “Protect them from what?”