5 Questions is where Teen Health Source volunteers ask 5 questions to people about their unique perspectives on everything to do with sex and gender. In this instalment we interview Winnie Wang, a third-year student at the University of Toronto for neuroscience and cinema studies. Outside of school, they are interested in graphic design, film photography and sustainability, and can usually be found tweeting at @anomalisas. Winnie identifies as non-binary.
Hey Winnie! Thanks for doing this interview. We wanted to ask you about something you tweeted recently about attending “female only” events as a non-binary person. What’s that experience like?
No problem! It’s a strange, unique experience. On one hand, I feel intrusive and am lying about my identity. If I get misgendered, it’s not anyone’s fault because I made a choice to attend a female only event. On the other hand, I present as female which means I’m treated like one by most people, so I can relate to female experiences and find advice for navigating different spaces as a woman helpful.
I feel guilty about stuff like this but then I’m like well it’s not like my STEM program is going to host a women + nb event anytime soon
— winnie (@anomalisas) June 6, 2017
You also mentioned that it wasn’t like your STEM program was going to host a “Women + NB” night. We hear a lot about programs to get more female-identified people interested in STEM programs, but can you tell us what the conversation is like around becoming more inclusive of all genders? Is there much of a non-binary community in STEM that you know of?
With the debates over gender neutral pronouns that happened on campus over the past year, there’s definitely been a conversation about non-binary people, but it hasn’t been extended to their presence in STEM, as far as I know. However, because of those debates, I did find out that physics professor A.W. Peet [Link] is non-binary and just having their presence at school makes me feel safer. It gives me hope for my own future in science as a non-binary academic, but there’s still a lot of progress with inclusivity to make.
You seem pretty open about being non-binary, with your pronouns being laid out in your Twitter bio. Do you find that identifying publicly has helped you tap into an online nb community? How does it come up in your offline communities?
The internet is where I feel most myself and is how I realized that I was non-binary, so identifying publicly helps to make me more visible to other non-binary people who want to share their experiences. It allows me to talk about things from transphobia to the less serious obstacles of making phrases (ie. “I’m a big boy/girl now”, “Your mcm/wcw…”) gender neutral. Offline, it doesn’t come up as much. It’s still difficult coming out to older friends who referred to me with female pronouns and correcting people.
Do you have any favourite inclusive clubs or events in Toronto that you’d recommend for nb youth?
You’re also a big film fanatic. Do you have any movie recommendations for the summer?
I’m looking forward to seeing Baby Driver and Dunkirk. I don’t like to know too much about movies before I see them but Edgar Wright and Christopher Nolan have had good track records so I trust that they’ll be good.
I also love creating movie playlists so here’s one for this summer:
Check out our 5 Questions tag for more interviews from this series: Link.
This series explores a small portion of the great wide world of Virtual Sex! Our first instalment covers questions like: What is it? Why do people do it? How do people do it? Is it even “doing it”? And more?
Become a Peer Educator for Planned Parenthood Toronto’s Youth HIV project: Prevention, Engagement, Action & Knowledge (P.E.A.K.)!