“I FOUND MY OWN WAY TO BE IN THE WORLD.”
Since 2020, I’ve seen much more gender fluidity on campus and in the classroom. It’s wonderful. The men in particular have found FIT a safe space to be really playful and “out there.” The new masculine has many shades of the feminine, including glitter makeup and pearls. Trans men have found their own way to cross-pollinate, like the bluehead wrasse of Venezuela or the African reed frogs that change gender in a single lifetime. There is change in us and in the natural world all around us.
FIT has been swimming in these waters from the very beginning. With our unique employee union—strong, and inclusive of both faculty and staff—shaping our work environment, and our mission as the only public art and business college in New York City, we’ve been radically diverse and full of creativity for decades. It’s a deep part of who we are.
From a very young age, I saw myself as completely gender-nonconforming. In college, I was disowned by my family for what they perceived to be an “unacceptable” queerness in the way I dressed and whom I loved. This keeps me aware of the ongoing exuberance and vulnerability in gender self-expression that many members of the FIT community may experience. “They” as a pronoun option, however, didn’t exist when I was in college, so I found my own way to exist outside or beyond categories. When my colleagues started to put their pronouns in their email signatures, I thought, I certainly can’t put “she,” and I can’t use “he,” so I chose and embraced “they.” My students actually refer to me as “they” in their evaluations. At first I thought, Who’s “they”? Oh—that’s me.