Their name is Jacob, and here is their story. Yes, *theirs*.

At age 16, Jacob came out as a gay man. Now, things have changed.

Jacob once identified as a gay man.

Today, Jacob doesn't identify as gay — or as a man.

"What does that mean?"

Jacob doesn't go by "he."


"So does Jacob go by ... she?"

Nope. Jacob doesn't identify as a woman either.

"But you said Jacob didn't identify as 'he'?"

Yes, I did. Jacob doesn't go by either "he" or "she." Jacob uses the pronoun "they."

"I don't get it."

Then watch this video! Jacob will tell you a story of realization.

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Rehash:

It began when Jacob attended a conference for LGBTQ activism in Chapel Hill. Jacob went to a workshop and met Dr. Terri Phoenix, Director of the LGBTQ Center at UNC Chapel Hill, and a human being who uses the gender pronoun "they" instead of "he" or "she."

In the workshop, Dr. Phoenix introduced attendees to the concept of using alternate gender pronouns, such as ze or hir. Then, Dr. Phoenix said two things that stuck with Jacob for years:

"Gender is this thing that I play with."

And:

"Some days I'm more masculine; some days I'm more feminine."

That lit a spark in Jacob's head.

One day, a friend was hanging out with Jacob at a mall. He asked Jacob, "Should we buy heels?"

The rest is history.


This particular story ends with Jacob and their friends practicing walking in high heels in a McDonald's parking lot.

But Jacob's identity as a genderqueer, gender non-conforming person lives on.

After strutting in black pumps like nobody's business, Jacob began to realize how much more comfortable they felt in their own skin identifying as genderqueer and bending gender.

Some of you might still have questions...

"But 'they' is too complicated to use to talk about one person! Why can't I just call Jacob 'he'?"

Let me ask you this: If you're a man, would you like it if everyone called you "she"? If you're a woman, would you like it if people called you "he"?

Exactly.

Jacob doesn't like being called by the gender pronoun that doesn't resonate with who they are.

Just because a person's gender identity doesn't make sense to us doesn't mean we shouldn't respect what they want to identify as. Jacob is a genderqueer person and wants to be called "they" because that's how they feel they are inside — and it's inside what matters, not what *we* think Jacob should be.

People are people. Jacob knows that. Share this, and maybe someone else who needs to hear it will get the message, too.

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Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

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