[A close-up of two white hands typing on a laptop] Photo by Luke Lung on Unsplash]

Ingrained warnings

You can probably picture the scene: a writer sits in front of a computer, typewriter, or piece of blank paper and wills their brain to function. Writing is so imbued in this mysticism of challenge, frustration, and stubborn endurance that, at least to my younger self, it felt entirely unapproachable. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to ram their head against a metaphorical wall all day with the risk of making no progress.

As I got older, this repeated characterization of the disastrously-blocked writer teamed up with other warnings about the unbearable solitude of the work and the chaos…

The public side of private abuse, as told by a trans survivor

[A person faces away from the camera, silhouetted against a bright window.] Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Back then

I lived with my then-partner on the second floor of an apartment complex. I still remember the unit number. The tenants who lived above us fought regularly, probably at about the same frequency that we did. Sometimes we fought at the same time.

That was three years ago now. I still remember hearing those shouting voices because they suggested that I was surrounded by danger, both within and around my home. I can’t know if their conflict was violent or abusive, but ours was. The expanded shroud of aggression made it more difficult to imagine an escape. …

A white person with a nose piercing and long brown hair holding a slip of paper across their eyes. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

The catered coming out story

For three-and-a-half years now, I’ve known that I am trans. Back then, when I started writing about gender, I was crafting the first narratives that would help me integrate my emerging identity into my established self-concept. These stories found roots in dissonance with childhood toys, with my body during puberty, and with the roles I was expected to perform as an adult woman. If only I hadn’t been born in the wrong body, this and similar narratives imply, I would have grown up content with my assigned gender.

Speaking from experience, trans people may be compelled to repeat this narrative…

[A view toward Monte Cristo, Columbia, and Kyes Peaks in Washington State. The backdrop is a blue sky and white yarrow wildflowers are blooming in the foreground.]

The past two years

Something strange started happening two years ago. I would be out hiking on a trail I’d never visited before and someone would stop me for advice. “How much longer to the top?” they’d ask, though I was still on my way up as well. Or, it might be a query from a stranger in the parking lot about which distant mountains were called by which names. Sometimes, it’s a small-talk question asked in passing: “You a local?”, “You a regular on this trail?”, “You a [Pacific Crest Trail] through-hiker?” No, no, and no. …

Exploring body and gender liberation

[A silhouetted bridge with a gap between its two pieces]

A trip beyond ‘Gender 101’

To my knowledge, there’s now a significant chunk of people (in the transgender community and not) with an understanding that trans folks’ genders are valid regardless of if their expression aligns with their identity. Usually, this assertion means sticking up for trans men who are assumed to be women, trans women who are assumed to be men, and those of other genders who get pulled into either side of the binary. Reinforcing this concept is still vital because many people still, for one reason or another, hold onto ignorance around gender. In essence, ‘Gender 101’ must remain readily available.


[A white hand holds a pencil above the blank page of a notebook. Crumpled pages and a coffee cup surround the notebook on the table.]

Three years ago I decided on a new name for myself. Truthfully, I didn’t (and don’t) feel more strongly about this name than I did my given name. It is useful quite useful, however, not to be assumed a woman every time someone reads my name. I wanted to go by something more androgynous for the practicality of avoiding misgendering as much as possible. I also narrowed my choices to names that were similar to my given name — again, for practicality; the more similar my new name was to my old, the easier people could correct their slips mid-word…

Despite suggestions otherwise, the answer is yes.

“GENDER IS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT!” I don’t know if this ever-present trans rallying cry has been yelled from a rooftop, but I wouldn’t doubt it. From Judith Butler’s theorizing to the ways that gender non-conformists are harassed online and on the street, it is clear that, instead of being intrinsic to our genitals, many aspects of gender are created relationally. But what comes of the societal notion of gender when no one’s looking, when you are all alone? To what extent does gender exist beyond the interpersonal realm?

It’s probably not surprising that this question came to the forefront of…

A Personal Essay about Gender Norms and Social Media

[the top part of a palm tree against a blue sky with wispy clouds]

I submitted this essay three years ago (5/29) for a writing course on the tech world of Silicon Valley that I took during my final quarter of college. Those four years were a lonely time in my life, especially regarding the absence of woman friends, and I can tell I was trying to sort out feelings of not belonging as I wrote this piece. I remember the moment of revision when I landed on the piece’s final words, a moment when I realized that I wasn’t a woman trying to figure out how I fit within gender norms. Rather, I…

A Personal Essay About Gender in Advertising

[An old-style TV with dials and an antenna sits against a bright green background, with the screen also colored bright green.]

For Context:

I wrote this essay in the fall of 2016 for a senior-level anthropology course. The assignment called for an gender-related essay braided with personal experiences, course material, and further research from the field of anthropology. It wasn’t the first time I had written a personal essay for a class, but it is one of two pieces that I still think about often.

In addition to being thematically relevant for this setting, the below essay also holds much personal meaning for me. The assignment provoked me to reflect upon my lifelong gender confusion with new depth. It provided a foundation for…

[a red apple and a cup full of colored pencils sit atop a white surface in front of a dark green background]

In spring of 2018, I wrote about my early experiences working as an instructional assistant in my city’s public school district. Though I didn’t know it then, I would continue in the same line of work for almost two more years. The first of April marked the second consecutive month that I haven’t been paid by the school district, which is to say I’ve been transitioning to different work recently. For that reason, I think it is an appropriate time to write some reflections beyond the ones I made during my early days on the job. …


white, trans/agender, femme often disguised as masc, NW-based. exploring gender beyond traditional narratives. patreon.com/alixperrywriting

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