Story Five of five
Nonbinary Bisexual Transgender Editor and Author
Meredith Talusan (she/her/they/them) is a contributing editor of them. and an award-winning journalist and author.Read Her Story
Meredith Talusan (she/her/they/them) is a contributing editor of them. and an award-winning journalist and author.
How would you describe yourself and what you do?
I'm a queer albino first-generation Filipino immigrant. I developed a passion for writing when I immigrated to the U.S. and ended up being a journalist and author.
What does Pride mean to you?
Pride to me means taking a moment to take stock of what we as a queer community have accomplished and then going right back and doing the work of giving voice to our infinite array of experiences.
What inspires you?
Books and friends inspire me; books by friends inspire me more.
How did you get to where you are today?
Through countless revisions, both in writing and in life.
“I'm happy to be visible, but only inasmuch as that visibility allows people to examine my work.”
You used to be a child star in the Philippines. Can you tell us about how that shaped your career and how you identify today?
I grew up not just as a child star but as the only blond, fair-skinned child I knew in a country full of dark-skinned people. For as long as I can remember, I was keenly sensitive of the difference between people being interested in me for purely surface reasons, and the ones who actually take the time and effort to get to know me as more than an object of their fascination. So I'm very good at spotting that curious look in people's eyes when they find out I'm trans, and equally good at defying their expectations of what a trans person is supposed to be.
One of the most common things trans people get accused of is that we're only doing what we're doing to get attention, but I have in fact spent many years out of the public eye as an academic and only started writing publicly on trans issues because I saw how misunderstood we were and continue to be. I'm happy to be visible, but only inasmuch as that visibility allows people to examine my work. I consider great writing to be the purest manifestation of thought, stripped of the superficiality of spectacle, and my engagement with the medium reflects my lifelong struggle to be seen not for what I look like but for who I am.
How would you describe your coming out experience?
Which one?! That's to say that coming out for me is a continual, evolving process.
How would you say your sense of community has changed through this ‘continual, evolving’ coming out experience?
I belong to many communities, and I don't consider my queer and trans communities to be inherently more or less valuable than my immigrant, Filipino, POC, disabled, feminist communities. I also value communities I belong to defined by place: like my homes in Brooklyn and Barryville, New York, and other places I've considered home, from Boston to the Philippines, San Francisco to Guatemala. As someone who comes out constantly—as queer, as trans, as POC, as a first-generation immigrant, as disabled—that process for me is always linked to reaching out for connection with like-minded people, and also being clear that I'm unwilling to be invisibly absorbed into the norm.
What advice would you give to your 10-year-old self?
Never grow up.
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