I’m Using ey/they Now. Let’s Talk.

Folks, I am not happy.

As someone whose relationship with gender is… tenuous at best, I exist mostly in a world where pronouns should be fun, exploratory tools of discovery. There is no single pronoun that can accurately place my understanding of my gender (or what parts of it I want to share) in a single spot for all of time. Multipronouns aren’t just to give you another option if you don’t like the first one on the list; they’re components of a whole. They’re little clues to who we are and who you might discover in us if you bother to look (and we let you). I’ve talked about my pronouns on here and over socials—exhaustively, to the point where it feels like I discuss them at least once a week—and yet, despite the fact that it’s been the better part of a year since I first added they/them to my pronoun sets, I can probably count on two hands the number of people who I know are gendering me correctly.

If you’ve been making the effort, thank you. I know there are a solid bunch of folks who are in the “I slip up but correct myself” category, and I’m really grateful for the energy you’re putting into this with me and other multipronoun users who may be in your lives. This post is not about you. Take in the new pronouns, throw the old ones in the trash, and continue your quest.

No, this post is about the swaths of people who have continued exclusive use of the pronouns I was assigned at birth. I am tired of having to correct you, oftentimes having to defend my right to exist as I am in the process. I am no longer willing to step back and watch myself be misgendered time and time again by people who have most definitely read my email signatures or seen any of the million social media posts I’ve made or who I’ve talked to directly about this. I run a Discord server full of queer theory resources (join info at the bottom of the post) and literally started a lecture series about this shit to better educate the people around me and those who might happen to run into me on Twitch. I gave a two-and-a-half-hour lecture on pronouns last month that’s still available for Twitch subscribers and will be up on my Patreon in the long run (and, oh yeah, I will give the lecture again at some point). I’ve created a page on my website (that I’m really proud of!) where folks can learn, judgment-free, how to properly address me. Any one of these things should be enough for folks to realize they need to make the switch, but all of them? Sheesh.

If I’m being honest, at this point I feel a little ridiculous for doing this much when I knew it wasn’t going to make a difference for the people who are the worst about this. Do I expect everyone to hop in the Discord and come to class? No, absolutely not! But it’s not only disheartening but damn disappointing that I know scores of teachers, peers, colleagues, superiors, and former friends who are aware this change needs to happen, who are aware I’ve been busting my ass to make it as easy for everyone as I possibly can, and who still haven’t bothered to even try.

Now my old pronouns are no longer an acceptable option. If I hear you misgendering me (and you’re not in the “I slip up but correct myself” boat), you will be called on it. I will not be nice about it. I’m done. Even though I readily accept far more than two pronouns from my closest friends and a couple other specific pockets of people, I am unwilling to continue giving my fellow musicians, teachers, administrators, and other colleagues/peers the opportunity to skate by on my birth pronouns without acknowledging that my identity is too complex to be contained within a single word. If this is a wakeup call for you, you’re welcome at any and all of my lectures, either on Twitch or in Discord. If you’re on team “I slip up but correct myself” (or on the very small team of Gendering Me Correctly), do feel free to gently correct others if the opportunity arises and it’s safe to do so.

You will gender me correctly, or you will no longer be in my life. I do not have space for people who will not acknowledge that I am who I am.


I’m running a lecture series (for free, unless you want to tip me!) over on my Twitch channel and Discord server. We meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm AZ time (7 Pacific/8 Mountain Daylight/9 Central/10 Eastern), and you can attend the lecture by watching the Twitch stream or jump in the Discord voice chat to join the discussion. Video recordings are available on Twitch for subscribers.

Thanks for reading! If you learned something from this post and would like to tip me, head on over to my Ko-fi page. For more analysis and commentary like this in your life, come back every Saturday at 8pm MST. To support the long-term work I do as an artist and advocate, you can find me on Patreon and @ordinarilymeg on Instagram.

(Post-)Pandemic Resolutions

Despite what I’ve titled this, let’s remember: the pandemic isn’t over yet. Much of the populace is still under-vaccinated (right now, I think the AZ stats say ~41% of people who are eligible have received one or more doses, with no clear count of how many of those people are fully vaccinated), and the Delta variant threatens to send us back to virtual learning in the fall if districts and states alike continue to be callous and eliminate masking and social distancing guidelines. (Or, you know, the government will keep us in person and let people die.) Personally, I don’t expect to be doing much—if any—live performing for the rest of the year at least, especially if my in-person assignments remain in place and I’m coming in and out of shared teaching spaces four days a week.

But gigs are starting back up again, for better and for worse, and as steady performances loom on the horizon, negotiations and conversations about ethics and access will be kicking up again. Hopefully in earnest, but we’ll see. When we left our regular artistic schedules as the pandemic hit, venues and gatekeepers alike were continuing to abuse their power to lock the most marginalized performers out of gig opportunities while further entrenching themselves within organizations in dire need of reform. No single individual will be able to take all of that on—but I’m tired of asking nicely for my less-marginalized peers to join me in aiding our more- and differently-marginalized friends and colleagues. I’m tired of going to gigs that are entirely white and cishet. And as we’re considering how we’ll change our artistic practices as we return to performing life, I want to make sure I’m not actively contributing to that anymore, even if the people I used to hang out with aren’t as invested.

I’ve spent the past several weeks compiling a list of resolutions for myself—things that will affect who I am as a teacher, performer, community manager, and composer. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and I fully expect I’ll be adding to and refining it as I go. These are the parameters I’ll be placing around my participation in artistic endeavors, both on my own and with others.

Teaching

  • Diversify all the supplemental materials I use in my teaching; given I currently teach so much about genres with roots in Black American Music, especially prioritize queer, trans, and disabled Black scholars, adding in sources by other marginalized voices where I’m unable to supplement with Black scholarship.
  • Be especially mindful of where less-marginalized and not-marginalized voices both in my classrooms and my sources may speak over, misrepresent, marginalize, and/or diminish intersectionally marginalized voices (both other scholars and students).
  • Continually update my slides with better, more compassionate, more correct vocabulary and phrasing. Mindfully edit all slides at least once a semester to check for microaggressions and points that need correction/clarification.
  • Seek out queer, Black, and Indigenous figures in every subject to actively counteract their intentional erasure. Teach my students that their identities and positionally are important because they directly shape their experiences of and contributions to the world.
  • Find Black and Latine experts to bring into my Hip Hop classes especially, and advocate for appropriate funding to pay them for their time and expertise.
  • Craft trumpet and composition curriculum that uses repertoire from a diverse collection of composers, performers, and styles. Improve this every semester, even if I am not teaching.

Performing

  • No gigs in which I am the token minority (as far as the bandleader/hiring person is aware).
  • No hired gigs that pay over $50 with zero performers of color in the ensemble. Where possible (and safe), recommend performers of color for the spot I’m being asked to fill.
  • I will not participate in panels or similarly-structured events of all white people; when I do participate, I will keep an attentive ear focused on how my differently-marginalized colleagues are treated, and I’ll support them as best I’m able.
  • Starting in summer 2021, for every piece I buy (for myself or to add to my pedagogical rep) or learn that a white cis man wrote, I will buy/learn one or more written by a composer of color.
  • I will not play gigs that wheelchair users couldn’t attend and/or play at. (Note for Phoenix locals: this locks me out of the Nash, because their stage is not accessible (and their seating has very limited accessibility).)
  • I will not put on concerts I control that program predominantly cishet, white, abled men. Though I don’t do a lot of concert organizing presently, over the next few years I aim to be curating concerts that are vastly diverse across many axes of oppression—every time.

Community Management

  • I will not hire people who I know harm/punch down at marginalized peers, colleagues, and/or students. This is already a pretty standardized part of my practice, but I want to put it in writing because many of my white, cishet, male colleagues do not engage in this practice.
  • Pay attention to who I am speaking highly of, and ensure I am sticking up for and vocally supporting my marginalized friends at least as much as I support my privileged friends (across many axes of oppression).
  • Never say “ladies and gentlemen” at a gig again, and if I accidentally do, extend it to be explicitly inclusive of folks who are nonbinary, agender, and gender-expansive.
  • Call people on their language—racist, misogynist, misogynoir, homophobic, transphobic, transmisogynist, transmisogynoir, ableist, xenophobic, etc. Folks reading this, get used to the idea of me saying “find a better word.”
  • Invite everyone when community events or large gatherings are happening. Think critically about who I and other community managers/contributors are forgetting when we say “everyone,” and start actively including those people, too.
  • Actually cultivate friendships (when appropriate) with the marginalized people around me, not just business relationships.
  • Advocate with venues for a flat minimum pay rate and consistent venue promotion, including on social media. Don’t go fishing for gigs at venues who don’t do this. (Again: not going to be playing the Nash anytime soon.)
  • Advocate for and request continued live streaming to facilitate and maintain increased accessibility for those who are unable to travel to a venue, especially for conferences, clinics, and similar events. (This does not replace the wheelchair accessibility bullet point in my Performing section; this is specifically to facilitate access for people who may not be able to leave their home and travel to the venue, and for whom travel is prohibitively expensive.)

Composing

  • More actively listen to, discuss, and promote the work of marginalized composers and generative artists broadly, especially composers, improvisors, and creators of color working in sound/artistic practices similar to my own.
  • Make sure other marginalized creators, especially Black and Indigenous creators, are seeing the same good opportunities I’m exposed to.
  • Invest in music by composers and artists of color (soft goal for the next year: at least 60% of my total spending on sheet music, scores, recordings, etc. should go directly toward creators of color).
  • Actively learn more about Black American improvised music, so I can better understand the artistic practices of any Black students I may have in the future and help connect them with artists like them, should they be lacking community.
  • Continue to advocate for and promote opportunities, events, organizations, and artists doing important anti-racism work, and learn from their policies and actions.

Not all of these are going to apply to everyone—the white, allocishet men I spend much of my time around would not apply the “accept no gigs where I am the token minority” option, for instance—but the vast majority of these points are broadly applicable for many of us, especially if you’re white. Some of these commitments mean I will be speaking intently with bandleaders about who’s in the band, and depending on the circumstances, they might mean I’m turning down gigs, recommending others to take my spots (if they’re willing/interested), and steering clear of venues who refuse to make structural changes to support marginalized performers and audience members alike.

We all have a responsibility to be actively, intersectionally anti-racist in our artistic practices. If these commitments sound like something you could do (especially if they sound like they’d make you a little uncomfortable and ask you to reevaluate your contributions to cisheteronormative white supremacy), sign on. Tweak the ones that don’t apply to you. Add things I’ve overlooked. But commit to doing better actively, not just when it happens to be convenient.

And when these commitments inevitably start some hard conversations, count me in.


Thanks for reading! If you learned something from this post and would like to tip me, head on over to my Ko-fi page. For more analysis and commentary like this in your life, come back every Saturday at 8pm MST. To support the long-term work I do as an artist and advocate, you can find me on Patreon and @ordinarilymeg on Instagram.

How to Access My Queer Identity Lectures (after June 2021)

Greetings, folks! Happy Pride.

I’ve been blogging less this month because I’ve spent the past three weeks teaching and talking in a different format: on Twitch and Discord, where I’ve spent time with friends, colleagues, and some near-strangers talking about various LGBTQIA2S+ identities and struggles. We’ve gotten through a lot—asexuality, aromanticism, nonbinary identities, transphobia, pronouns/neopronouns, xenogenders, trans allyship, and some pointers on queer-friendly classrooms—and we’ve still got a little more to cover.

As we’ve adventured through the month, I’ve talked with my Discord server and a few other folks about where this content should go after the month is over. I fully expect that I’ll give some of these lectures again in the future (Nonbinary Day is July 14!), and while I’m sure they’ll get better over time, I know at least a few people have been considering visiting (or revisiting) this month’s material in VOD form.

Continue reading “How to Access My Queer Identity Lectures (after June 2021)”

Are You *Actually* Safe to Come Out To?

Happy Pride! It’s such a lovely day to be queer.

It’s hard to celebrate with pure enthusiasm this year, given the slew of anti-trans bills being passed across the country (more on that soon). Trans, nonbinary, and gender-expansive people are facing a fresh wave of violence, and most of our cis friends remain silent, even many of our cisqueer community members. A lot of the trans people I know are frustrated beyond belief, scared, and angry, yet still determined as ever to continue to honor ourselves and our community in our words and actions.

In light of this and other events, it can be really jarring to see the perhaps-inevitable social media posts from cis (and especially allocishet) people that say something along the lines of “I am a safe person to come out to!!” Every time I see one of these posts, my gut instinct is actually to think, no, you’re not. And today I want to sit with that a little and break down why.

Continue reading “Are You *Actually* Safe to Come Out To?”

How To Read Me, feat. Untouchable (Again)

Last year, Untouchable was one of the largest-by-word-count projects I undertook. I’m still really proud of it, because I was able to grow an analysis from a single idea—”nobody wanted to sleep with me”—to the point where I could talk about hostile work environments the following week. More than that, though, I was able to point at some of the things that made me feel most uncomfortable, unsafe, or Othered while I was spending time and money in the Jazz Studies department at ASU. I was able to speak with more specificity than usual to my story and my experience in this particular space.

It was also one of the last things I published before I came out, and I knew that was going to be the case by the time I was halfway through my edits. (The original plan had actually been coming out at the end of Untouchable, which I’ve talked about before.)

I’m hesitant to say Untouchable was one of the last things people read of my work while assuming I’m cis, because that is DEFINITELY still happening even among people I’ve considered close. But it was functionally the end of that era, and today, I’d like to talk a little about how reading even my old work through a lens of queerness yields an overall more honest, accurate interpretation.

Continue reading “How To Read Me, feat. Untouchable (Again)”

crushes, relationships, and amatonormativity

I don’t think I would’ve had crushes as a child if my friends hadn’t made it seem like a necessary part of a social life. When you’re an eight-year-old assumed-cis-girl and you walk home with your neighbors every day, you learn pretty quickly that even if your idea of “liking” people doesn’t match up with theirs, they’ll usually take any expression of affection or longing for a boy as something akin to a crush. They’ll hype it up or make fun of you, finding ways to reinforce that you must be feeling these same specific feelings they had for others.

And when you’re not presented with any alternatives, you eventually give in and resign yourself to the fact that they must be right—and with more practice/willpower/time, you too will feel and understand these things just as they did. As an adult with a lot more queer smarts, I can look back at the people I had “crushes” on from elementary school through most of undergrad and realize that in almost every case, what I wanted was some combination of camaraderie, emotional closeness, and/or respectful treatment. Most of these “crushes,” whether on people who bullied me, barely acted like I existed, or (on rare occasion) were nearly my best friends, were reinforced—often painfully—by the girls around me at the time.

Honestly, I feel for the guys (always guys) who were on the other end—the close friend others felt I could no longer show affection to when he started dating a wonderful girl; the upperclassman whose musicianship I functionally hero-worshipped but who I was told by the girls around me I must be in love with; the guy I went out with for three weeks my freshman year of college because I laid my head on his shoulder at 1am during a movie marathon and half our floor decided we were perfect for each other.

(Seriously, are the allos okay?)

Continue reading “crushes, relationships, and amatonormativity”

Pride Isn’t A Reason To Exploit Queer Composers

Greetings, y’all, and welcome to another episode of This Wasn’t Supposed To Be The Post This Week!

Pride’s coming up next month, and partly as a result, I’m starting to see an influx of “oh, we’re looking for LGBTQ+ [insert item here]!” both in my inbox and on socials generally. Sometimes friends forward me opportunities, which is incredibly kind, but some of these so-called opportunities come with demands that fall beyond the boundaries of reason and are better deemed exploitative. Though it varies from one posting to the next, many of these “in search of…” ads that find their way to me are calls for scores, and as someone who’s been on both the submitting end and the judging end of these, wow, I have thoughts.

The composing community frequently has these conversations in earnest on multiple platforms, but many folks miss the discourse entirely or brush it off as the complaints of a small contingent. Today, you’re not getting that lucky. For just a moment, I’d like to tell you about a call for scores I came across today; see if you can spot the red flag(s) from the Instagram ad:

  • performer is requesting scores for a specific solo instrument and piano; performers are specified
  • specifically seeking scores from LGBTQ+ identifying composers (submission requirement)
  • music is for a new album
  • work cannot be previously recorded or performed
  • 5-20min
  • $500 prize for each work chosen, plus a copy of the studio recording
  • no entry fee, June 1 deadline
Continue reading “Pride Isn’t A Reason To Exploit Queer Composers”

nonbinary musings from my first year out

I’ve been formally out for about a year, most of which has been spent in the relative solitude of quarantine. Covid has afforded me the space and time to figure out what versions of me feel more correct, but I’m increasingly conscious of the turbulence that will doubtless ensue when I start going places in person again.

If we’re being honest, I don’t really look different than I did last March. Sure, I’ve got a killer undercut and a ballet bun now, but on the day-to-day, I don’t dress particularly differently. I have not subscribed to the time-honored tradition of short-sleeve button-ups and general androgyny that some queer folks love but which society tries to shove all nonbinary identities into. If anything, the past year might have actually enabled me to be more feminine, because I’ve gotten to make (some) aesthetic choices for myself without the external pressure of networking and gigs. Because I’m out at work, I haven’t had to over-perform gender for my students either. The changes I’ve gotten to experience haven’t really been aesthetic. (I basically just look more comfortable now.)

In fact, this aesthetic consistency has impacted my treatment significantly, because there’s been little outward change. I don’t look obviously, there’s-no-other-option queer, and because my appearance makes it so easy to address and treat me as a cis woman, a lot of people still do. And will. (Including family.)

Continue reading “nonbinary musings from my first year out”

on Discord admins and leaving toxic workspaces

In the months before COVID hit, I was slowly beginning to commit to walking away from ensembles and organizations in which I was mistreated, undervalued, or expected to conform to old-boys’-clubby vibes. At the time, I really struggled to let myself leave, because each instance felt like a puzzle piece carrying immense social capital. I’d already been honest with myself that most of them didn’t align with my creative priorities, but I was so used to being thoroughly tokenized that I felt the insidious Othering pressure that whispers “if you leave this behind, you may not work again.”

Performing isn’t even my main gig, yet I’d been made to feel that pressure. So when COVID hit and everything got canceled, the devastation was tinged with relief. I got to take a break from weighing which opportunities would be good for me artistically and personally versus professionally and interpersonally. I got to take the time to sit down and write the words to explain that I caucus with both women and nonbinary people. I got to actually publish those words because I knew I’d have at least a while before I understood their professional consequences—I remember saying to one of my partners at the time, “It’s not like people can decide not to hire me when nobody’s hiring anyone anyway.”

(To be more precise, they could decide not to hire me; they just couldn’t do anything noticeable to enforce it.)

Continue reading “on Discord admins and leaving toxic workspaces”

No More Groveling Emails

I’m not going to look it up, because it still feels horrible, but the last Groveling Email I wrote was sometime in October-ish of 2019 to the co-director of an ensemble I was repeatedly told I was welcome in until I asked to be treated better. This is not a particularly new experience for me or anyone marginalized; we all learn very early on that the degree to which we are welcome in any particular space is dependent on the tolerance for discomfort present at the top of power dynamics. Many of us, especially our siblings of color, learn to make general determinations at a glance. It’s a risk assessment à la Schrödinger’s rapist, just a little less action-specific.

Every marginalized person you’ve ever met could tell you about the microaggressions (and overt forms of violence) they’ve been expected to tolerate in professional settings. Even if those aren’t the terms they use to describe the actions, folks can point at the specific stares or posturing or subtly exclusive language or nonchalantly threatening behavior they’ve had to take in stride. Sometimes that absorption requires us to self-flagellate, to take the blame for another’s actions and feelings because of the unspoken idea that we caused them. If we hadn’t been there, if we hadn’t brought our marginalized selves into those rooms, these individuals wouldn’t have been upset or acted out in this certain way.

Continue reading “No More Groveling Emails”