Jacob Tobia is tired of being asked where non-binary stops and trans starts.
“At a certain point I want to say, ‘Can you stop dissecting me? I’m a person,’” the author of Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story said. “I don’t want to dissect my community like that. I don’t want to dissect my chosen family like that. I just know what feels like home when it feels like home.”
Tobia, who identifies as genderqueer, made their comments during a panel discussion at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Renberg Theatre on the emergence of non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals and their place under the transgender umbrella.
The panel was part of the Center’s Big Queer Convo series which kicked off Trans Pride L.A. on June 14. Tobia was joined by actress Alexandra Grey, YouTube star Miles McKenna, and moderator Tre’vell Anderson, director of culture and entertainment at OUT Magazine.
The topic got a strong reaction from Tobia because they feel “it implies a built-in antagonism between non-binary and binary trans folks.”
“I don’t want to feel like we’re different,” they said. ”Sure, there are fine points, but it’s poetry. Gender is poetry. It’s not like some taxonomy that is easy to label. I’m not a Bento Box. Why do people always want to compartmentalize and separate (us)?”
Grey, who has roles on TV’s Transparent and Chicago Med, also spoke of a need for a unified trans community, but acknowledged that it is challenging.
“Now, more than ever, it’s important for us as a community to really understand each other and understand that we are here together,” she said. “The spectrum is so wide, we’re all so different. I’m really interested in figuring out how we bridge that gap. Our fight is definitely not with each other. I think educating yourself is the most important thing—and respecting everyone’s views.”
Anderson admitted that they used to reject being labeled trans because “the broader perception is something that’s very binary. Because I was somewhere in the middle I thought, ‘That’s not me.’”
McKenna advised people to keep an open mind because labels and language – especially in the trans community—changes with the times.
“If you go through trans history and queer history, labels change,” they said. “There’s always evolution within the times. You just need to do whatever feels right to you.”