For the past three years my best friend Andromeda has been an inspiration to me. Xe moved into our student lodgings after xer’s student loan payment was delayed. We got on so well, I never asked xer to leave. Xe was always a tad distant and would often leave the flat for a few days without telling me where xe was going, but I never questioned xer because xe was a free spirit, and I suspected xe might be polyamorous and perhaps had several multigender relationships on the go.
Andromeda was always very supportive of my transracial status and we’ve spent many an evening together feasting on rice and peas while smoking weed and listening to Vanilla Ice. Xe has also accompanied me on various marches around the campus to raise awareness of the lack of financial support for semi bi-gender cisneg multisex students. Something which I have always been very passionate about.
Needless to say, xer’s ‘coming out’ was something I could have never predicted. It happened yesterday afternoon as I was microwaving some jerk chicken in readiness for our Lake Tukana Remembrance Service (in 2016, archaeologists unearthed evidence of a massacre which occurred at Lake Tukana in Kenya about 10,000 years ago, and most nights I have not been able to get to sleep without sobbing about it). I was putting the finishing touches to our Nataruk tribal headdresses, when Andromeda walked in with a smile on xer’s face. ‘You look happy!’ I observed. Andromeda then told me xer had a date. I was obviously disappointed that xer would not be partaking in the memorial proceedings, but pleased xer was experimenting with xer’s sexual identity.
‘So, these multisexual couplings are really working out for you then?’ I inquired. At this, Andromeda looked perplexed, ‘Eh? What you talking about?’ xe exclaimed. I was slightly taken aback at xer’s reaction. I explained that I was simply being an ally to xer’s foray into lesbian subculture. Again, Andromeda looked confused and said ‘She’s not a lesbian mate! Although I wouldn’t mind haha! No seriously though, I have no idea what you’re talking about.’ ‘Wait,’ I said, ‘does she know you are a demisex transgender?’ Here, Andromeda actually began to laugh ‘A what?!’ xe spluttered. This was when ‘he’ told me he was cisgender. He identified as the biological sex he’d been assigned at birth. It was as if xe’d punched me in the gut.
I couldn’t believe it. All this time, Andromeda had been living a lie, even going as far as to admit that the shocking pink pixie-cut hairstyle he had begun to wear around the house last year was merely a wig he’d worn as a ‘joke’. As he removed it in front of me, the betrayal rocked me to my very core. I couldn’t accept it. It was monstrous. I chose to believe that perhaps xe was going through a violent genderflux and the dysphoria had caused xer to become unstable. But deep down, I knew I was clutching at straws. Desperate to change the reality of what ‘he’ was telling me into something my woke mind could digest more easily.
‘W-what pronouns would you prefer me to use from now on?’ I tentatively inquired. ‘Call me whatever you want mate, I’m really not that arsed’, ‘he’ laughed, pulling a packet of Amber Leaf along with some Green Rizlas from a pocket of ‘his’ donkey jacket and rolling up a cigarette.
I was lost. I didn’t know how to talk to xer. Suddenly, it was as if we were worlds apart. I mean, would our Friday night ‘Challenge Racism’ bongo sessions still be the same? As far as I am aware, cis people appear to live in a world where it’s ‘ok’ to mock each other for their gender. I’m not comfortable with this and I told Andromeda so. ‘My name’s Matthew’, ‘he’ said – throwing me another curve ball. ‘Since when?!’ I shot back. ‘Since always, I don’t even know where the name “Andromeda” came from. You just started calling me it and I couldn’t be bothered to keep correcting you. Anyhow, I’m off to meet up with Jessica in Wetherspoons. Don’t wait up!’ He walked out of the apartment, whistling, leaving me in a world of confusion and mental anguish.
I fear for Andromeda’s safety on campus. Cis-bashing has become commonplace and ‘Matthew’ (I’ll never get used to calling xer that) doesn’t even have dark skin to compensate for ‘his’ crime of being the gender ‘he’ was assigned to at birth. I only hope that in time, perhaps he can learn to be gay.