Desmond Meagley

Youth Radio’s Desmond Meagley doesn’t identify as as male or female. So when it comes to pronouns, people are often confused.

When I tell someone my preferred pronouns are they/them/their, I never know what to expect. Sometimes people just say “okay.” Other times, they’ll ask a whole bunch of questions I don’t really feel like answering.

For example: “You look like a boy. Why use they instead of he?”
Answer: I look like me. That’s all there is to it. When people make assumptions about me based on the clothes I’m wearing, or whether or not I’m wearing make-up, that’s on them: it has nothing to do with who or what I actually am.

Example 2: “How can one person be a they? It doesn’t make sense.”
Answer: It’s really simple. In English, we already use singular “they” all the time. Suppose you found fifty bucks on the ground. You might say, “Oh, someone dropped their money here.” That’s singular “they.” It dates back to at least the 16th century. And most major dictionaries — from Oxford to Webster’s — consider it to be grammatically correct. That should be enough.

What bothers me most is when I tell someone several times to use they/them pronouns for me, but they make no effort to do so. Being ignored like that hurts.

When I come out to people, it means I trust them. If they value my trust, they should respect who I am — including my gender pronouns. I don’t always feel safe correcting others, and I don’t like repeating myself to someone who isn’t listening. But my silence isn’t permission to keep ignoring my preferences. Seriously, stop doing that.

Lastly, it’s okay if you get my pronouns wrong by accident. It takes time to adjust to new ways of speaking and thinking. Just don’t make it my problem when you misgender me. Getting really apologetic or changing the subject to how difficult you find my pronouns makes me feel super uncomfortable. Don’t tell me you’re trying, show me by correcting yourself and moving on.

I hope this clears some things up.

With a Perspective, I’m Desmond Meagley.

 Desmond Meagley is 21 years-old and lives in Oakland. Their commentary was produced by Youth Radio.

As I gear up for Donald Trump’s inauguration next week, I’m flashing back to the morning after election day. My rage, sadness, and apprehension blurred together into an emotional tidal wave.

I wanted to cry, but instead, I reached for a tube of liquid eyeliner.

This was was unusual for me. I came out as transgender at 14 and until very recently I’ve been terrified of not passing as male. I used to bind my chest so tightly it hurt my ribs. I wore layers of clothing to disguise my body shape and shoes with huge lifts hidden in them to make me look taller. I avoided make-up and ‘girly’ outfits even if I thought they looked nice. And I laughed when my straight cis friends made sexist or transphobic jokes.

I believed that being totally stealth and assimilating into masculinity would allow me to lead a normal and happy life. But all it did was force me to keep hiding. I was holding myself to a standard I didn’t actually believe in. Coloring within lines that don’t exist.

Make-up usually made me feel uncomfortable. But the morning after Donald Trump won the election, I stared at the black war paint around my eyes and I felt strong, defiant, and free.

Being stealth kept me safe. But now I want my queerness to be seen, or else discrimination will go unseen. I don’t care if my nonbinary identity isn’t “normal” enough for people to easily understand. “Normal” in our society is misogyny and queerphobia; the election just made that more apparent than ever.

This year, the Republican Party’s official platform took some of the the most anti-LGBTQ positions in its history. The platform represents the agenda of the party that now controls the House, Senate, and the White House.

I can’t predict exactly what the Trump presidency has in store for me. But on the morning of his inauguration, I’ll be preparing for battle– and eyeliner is just the beginning.

With a Perspective, I’m Desmond Meagley.

Desmond Meagley is 20 years old and attends college in Berkeley. His commentary was produced by Youth Radio.

The apartment where I live in Emeryville is really swanky. But despite the on-site gym and pool minutes from my front door, I can’t wait until I can afford to move out.

I usually stay in my room when I’m at home. I get lost in my own world, watching movies, sketching, or listening to music. It’s easy to forget I don’t live by myself… that is, until my dad knocks on my door with a list of chores. That’s when I remember: at 19 years old, after so much searching and saving, I still can’t afford to move out. Between rising rent and limited, low-paying job opportunities in the Bay Area, staying with my dad is the only stable housing option I have.

When I can, I visit houses that are for rent. The last place I checked out was almost perfect: a humble but brand new duplex, with a backyard and a gas stove. I was already visualizing my future garden when I asked about rent. That’s when I learned that my roommates and I wouldn’t even be considered unless we made over three times the posted rent. My heart sank. Students like me can’t get jobs that pay that much.

Self-sufficiency is a major part of how I define adulthood. I handle my own transportation, work hard in school, and I buy most of my food with my own money. It feels immature to leave my responsibilities to someone else.

I keep trying to remember that rooming with my dad is financially responsible. It gives me more time to find a better-paying job and more freedom to focus on my education. But my dad and I just don’t communicate well. A conversation about groceries can easily turn into a shouting match.

I’m grateful he lets me live in his apartment. But it doesn’t always feel like home. Even with the benefits of free rent, as long as my dad is my roommate, it doesn’t matter how old I am; I’ll still feel like a kid.

With a Perspective, I’m Desmond Meagley.

Desmond Meagley is 19, lives in Emeryville and attends college in Berkeley. His commentary was produced by Youth Radio.

Growing up, my understanding of politics can be summed up in two words: Republican and Democrat. Even in elementary school, my classmates and I could name our parents' party affiliations, though we weren't clear on what they actually stood for.

But now that I'm 18, I don't identify with any political party. My own political involvement mostly happens in front of a computer screen. My peers and I may tweet using #YesAllWomen, share news about the Middle East on Facebook, or post videos of police brutality to Vine get other people's attention. And slowly, mainstream politicians are seeing social media's impact. But they're still so focused on their internet image, that they're missing the big picture.

Last week  I watched CNN's Republican presidential debate with a computer by my side and a bowl of popcorn in my lap, my fingers poised over the keyboard to capture a cringe-worthy gaffe or a quotable line at a moment's notice. Even though I'm a first time voter, I wasn't watching to decide who to vote for. I wanted to be entertained, and to understand all the internet jokes about the candidates that would inevitably follow. It might not sound serious, but consider in the past the internet's jabs at major candidates have ruined whole political careers.

People my age want to be able to pick and choose the issues we care about. We don't need to join a club for the sake of membership. When an online movement like BlackLivesMatter can force police departments to review their tactics, it's clear that joining a political party isn't the only way to make change.

So politicians who want to energize first time voters like me, need to stop trying to look appealing to us and start working on the concerns we have. And unless political parties push for change on the level that my generation wants, Democrats and Republicans alike will only seem more out touch to young people like me.

With a Perspective, I'm Desmond Meagley.

Desmond Meagley is 18, and lives in Berkeley. His commentary comes to us from Youth Radio.

When I turned 18, I gave myself a birthday gift. I became a high school dropout.

I went to a private middle school where instead of report cards, I got entire packets of evaluations. From science to cultural studies, every teacher took up a full sheet of paper, assessing my ability to ask questions, show up to class on time, and complete homework.

But when I enrolled in Berkeley High School — a student metropolis with 3,500 other teens — my class sizes doubled and homework and tests took on more weight than ever before. School became not about my level of mastery, but about how many papers I could turn in.

Everywhere I looked, I saw people falling into exhausting routines, full of extracurriculars, extra credit and extra tutoring; to pass all their AP classes, to look good for an expensive college, to get a scholarship. And here I was, just months into my freshman year, already exhausted. I'd sit in bed until late at night thinking, "How am I going to get through the next morning when today was hell?"
Junior year, I started skipping classes in favor of reading in the park across the street. It was the first time in a long time that I felt engaged in learning. It woke me up to the fact that I needed to take control of my own education.

During my senior year, I dropped out. Within a month, I passed the GED with a plan to attend community college and transfer to a four-year university. Most adults couldn't understand why I'd give up on my high school education. After all, didn't I want to graduate?

Of course not. Once I graduate from college, it won't matter anymore whether I got a GED or a high school diploma.

If it's widely accepted that people have different styles of learning, then why is it so outrageous to take a different educational path? I didn't give up on anything. I chose well-being over the expectations of others. And I took control of my future.

With a Perspective, I'm Desmond Meagley.

Desmond Meagley is 18 years old and lives in Berkeley. His commentary was produced by Youth Radio.