Why do I write? This was WordPress’ Writing 101 question of the day. I write to break moulds, to write about the moulds that need breaking and the people who are breaking them.
One of the moulds that I feel most passionately about breaking are those related to gender. What it means to be male or female, according to society, and the effect those moulds can have on people who don’t quite fit them. It seems only fitting (cough) to start off this month of posting every day with a post about a fellow gender mould breaker and self-described “Gender Bandit.”
Today, I want to introduce you to a good friend of mine and a fellow mould breaker, Eliot.
Eliot is a student that lives in Ottawa and goes to my church. Eliot is passionate about history, is always encouraging other people, and shares my love of video games – Animal Crossing in particular. Eliot has two cats, makes all kinds of creative things by hand, and is always wearing a cool hat of some sort.
That should give you a pretty good, albeit basic, introduction to Eliot. But you may be feeling like I missed something, and feel awkward about asking…
What’s Eliot’s… gender?
One of the first articles I posted on this blog was entitled “To Be Male or To Be Female, That Is The Question.” It was about the complexities of choosing a gender in video games, and how that affected the experience of the game. Eliot has been asking, and living out this question, in real life.
Here she is:
And here he is:
So you tell me. Which person looks more like the Eliot I just described above?
My answer is neither. While I know that technically they are both Eliot, neither of them are the Eliot I know: they both look like strangers. This is the real Eliot:
…That smile, eh?
I have watched Eliot’s journey with compassionate curiosity. Compassion because this is a person I care about, and a member of my community. Curiosity because Eliot has been so open in sharing about the journey, and because I often am reminded of a younger version of myself: in that awkward space between adolescence and adulthood, so uncomfortable with the gender moulds imposed upon me, so yearning to break free of them, to wear what I liked regardless of which section of the store it came from, to have the confidence and the affirmation to just be… me.
We’ve taken different paths: I have found satisfaction in taking the role of “The Girl” in various male-centric situations; to break moulds by driving forklifts, riding motorcycles, fixing computers, beating the boys at their own games. Eliot recently received an official name change certificate in the mail, a couple of weeks after an amazing “name change ceremony” at our church, and has made the leap from “she” to “they.”
And to borrow a phrase that Eliot so often uses for others: They are a “beautiful person.”
Interested in learning more of Eliot’s story? Check out their blog, Eliot Interchange. Also check out Dream Love Grow, the people that worked with Eliot on this amazing gender mould breaking photo project. And please share your thoughts in the comments below!