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August, 2017:

Being Non-Binary in a Binary World

One of the most challenging things about being non-binary is when I’m reminded that I live in a society that was not created for people like me.

Photo by Roger Griggs

Non-Binary Travel
There are everyday occurrences where there isn’t a gender neutral option. I cringe every time I hear someone call me “ma’am.” (Growing up on Star Trek, I’ve always preferred “sir.”) When I check into a hotel, the front desk clerk only has Mr. or Ms. to choose from in deciding how to address me. (If you don’t know me well, you don’t know that I have a doctorate degree.)

And let me tell you how much fun it is dealing with the TSA. I almost always set off the spinny-go-round scanner, usually on places where there’s no metal on my clothes. When I tell the female-identified TSA agent that I’m not a woman or a man, the supervisor has to get involved before I’m patted down and sent on my way.

Recently, one TSA supervisor asked which gender I was presenting as, and I honestly answered, “Neither.” (She was nice and politely asked me some questions as I put my sneakers back on about how to address someone who is non-binary. She said she’d never met a non-binary person before.) At another airport, a supervisor tried to tell me that I had to pick a gender, man or woman, for the purposes of the pat down, and I refused. At that same airport, the supervisor asked who I wanted to pat me down, and I said I wanted a non-binary person, or a gay person. They had neither, so I said, “Whomever is most comfortable doing it.”

Yes, I could avoid issues with the TSA by letting them think I’m female, but they need to remember that not everyone fits into their binary system. And I can handle the interaction, even though it’s stressful and exhausting.

I call this my ” gay mafia” picture.
Photo by Roger Griggs

Shopping for a Suit
I shrunk out of my suit years ago, but since I rarely have to wear it, I haven’t replaced it yet. Lately, I’ve wanted to replace it with a gray three-piece men’s suit – with real pockets in the pants and blazer. It’s hard to find a women’s suit that fits me with my muscular shoulders, long torso, and abnormally short limbs. (When I get petite length pants, I still need to get them shortened about 2 inches, when I’m wearing heels – and I’m 5’4”.) And besides that, I’m tired of blazers and pants that don’t have any functional pockets.

A major department store was having a sale, and their website showed that they had what I wanted. The clerk didn’t bat an eye that I wanted a men’s suit, but he apologetically said that he didn’t have anything that would fit me. He slipped a size 36S blazer on me, and he was right – the shoulders were too big. (With men’s suits, you fit the shoulders and tailor everything else.) They didn’t even have dress shirts I could wear. I have a 14-inch neck, but only need a 30-inch sleeve. The shortest length they carried was 32.

The clerk suggested I visit the boys’ department. He said I would probably wear a size 18 or 20, and he warned me that my shirt color options would be limited to blue, black, and white, and if I wanted a suit with a vest, I’d probably have to wait until Easter. The shirts and blazers in the boys’ department mostly fit, but they still didn’t feel right.

Thankfully, I have a friend who gets all his suits and dress shirts custom made by a tailor in Vegas. He said he’d give me their name. I hope he wasn’t lying when he said they weren’t that much more expensive than buying off the rack.

Life After the Bar Exam

We’re home! It’s so good to be back from the California Bar Exam and getting back to “normal” life . . . slowly.

Reminder: Rob-tastic and I teamed up with Barbri to document and share our stories from studying for the July 2017 California Bar Exam.

My beautiful Rosie dog and the Wall of Pain.

Back to the Grind
Rob and I took Friday and the weekend off, but then we were both back in the office on Monday. We each had at least a week’s worth of emails of non-critical client messages to read. I spent at least an hour re-populating the infamous Wall of Pain in my office with all the tasks I need to do for current and prospective clients.

We’ve been busy since we got back been back. Besides client work, we also get to get back to doing other professional tasks, like networking, writing blog posts, developing new CLEs and other products, and applying for speaking engagements for next year. There were a lot of things I had to put on the back burner while we were studying.

Although we are grateful for Barbri helping us prepare for the California Bar Exam, we hope we never have to read another Barbri book.

So Much Free Time
A few days before the bar exam, I remember looking at Rob and asking, “What did we do before bar prep?” We’d been studying for so long, I’d forgotten what it was like to have evenings and weekends where I wasn’t studying.

Now that we’re done, we have time to see friends, go to the movies, sleep in, and do . . . whatever we want. Rob-tastic is a home brewer, and he said he wants to start two batches of beer and a batch of mead this month, and he said he’s getting back to weightlifting. I signed up to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona marathon in January 2018, so I’m getting back into running.

Oh yeah, and we still have to do Character and Fitness for California.

Cleaning House
One thing we both said we wanted to do when we got home was clean our respective apartments. Rob says his Barbri books are scattered all over his apartment. “It’s hard to go somewhere without being within arm’s reach of one of my books,” he said. We did the bare minimum while we were studying, but now we have time to deep clean our homes. I’ve never had a stronger desire to mop my floor and clean the baseboards. I want dust everything I own.

Mush for Brains
One of the challenges of recovering from the bar exam is sometimes our brains go to mush. Our mental stamina isn’t all the way back yet. When I get home from the office, all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and watch a movie, whereas before bar prep, I’d respond to emails and write blog posts in the evening. Even in the office, I can’t work for hours without a break. This week, I’ve needed more breaks to breathe, take my eyes off my screen and documents, and walk around the office for a few minutes before going back to work. Yesterday, I told my friend my brain felt like scrambled eggs – rubbery and tasteless.

It’s good to be home and getting back to “normal.”