My sister name is Sister Jareth Harr’ie Eerie Hola.
People don’t get it right away, so just Sister Jareth is also fine, but [the whole name] is meaningful to me. It came from a couple of different things. “Jareth” is my inspiration [because] I don’t identify as cisgender. If I were to ever transition to a male, I would choose [the name] “Jared”, that was always the name I went to. When I saw The Labyrinth when I was younger, the 1986 Jim Henson classic with David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly, I fell in love with the goblin king character and so then I said “Jar-eth” is going to be my name. I thought his name was Jared for a while, and then I realized it was Jareth. It wasn’t necessarily going to be a part of my [Sister] name, but I am not legally changing my name so this is a way for me to use it without transitioning.
My background is Latinx and Native, and white from my mother’s side—Irish and Dutch and a lot of others. I really wanted to pay homage to my father’s side of the family because I was not at all attached to it. My parents got divorced when I was 7 years old and I never really got to know my hispanic culture. When I first joined the sisters, I was really feeling inspiration from the Hispanic Catholic part of my heritage. Originally I wanted to [name myself] something inspired by Frida Kahlo but also something funny like Frida Nipple—something with boobs. My big sister suggested “Harry” but spelled cute with an “ie”. Then “eerie” because I’m really into dark, ghoulish things. Then it became “eerie hola” being the kind of scary, Latinx nun I wanted to portray. It’s not at all my personality so it’s kind of hard to live that character, but my intention is to eventually find a look to reflects it all.
I have always stuck to the [identity] of transgender-queer.
That really resonates with me because I read the book GenderQueer when I was 19 and it explores the idea of different gender identities of both men and women. They have these experiences where they’re not feeling 100% cis in how they were born or they have a relationship that makes them question their gender identity and it was a great anthology of stories. When I read that, I was like, “genderqueer” that’s how I identify. It really made me realize that the way I have sexual intimacy with people, or have relationships with people I also realized that I’m on the trans spectrum. I Identify as a transman, so doing things that are more feminine are very hard for me. I even have a button on my bib that says I prefer “he” or “him” but I know there’s always going to be people that don’t see me that way or will treat me a certain way. Unfortunately, I get misgendered all the time but it doesn’t hurt me anymore like it used to. When I’m out of face I prefer male pronouns, when I’m in face I typically prefer female pronouns.
In my personal life I dress in masculine clothing. A lot of my friends identify me as “he” or in gender neutral terms like “they” or “them”. I think this helps people because then they don’t feel like they’re misgendering me. When I’m a nun it’s a totally different persona. Then it gets interesting because people will say “Oh, hey girl!” and refer to me as “she” but it doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t bother me to be called the gender I was born in, but I’ve just never felt like that’s who I was. I try not to adhere to pronouns and instead switch things up, which I know makes it hard for some people but I like the gender fuckery aspect of who I am.
I remember even at 4 years old, going out and going into the women’s restroom with my mom and people telling me I didn’t belong in there.
I didn’t understand because I knew I was girl because my mom told me I was, but I didn’t feel like I was. It’s been like that ever since I was a kid. Middle school was terrible for that same reason--going into the women’s restroom and not feeling like I was in the right place. People would always tell me I didn’t belong, like they knew before I did that I was not that gender. I used to hate being boxed into [gender] but now I love it because it’s mostly kids that ask me now. I have a short haircut, and I’m wearing boy’s clothes but I have pretty obvious boobs. Kids will ask “Are you a boy or a girl?” and I just say “I don’t know, what do you think I am?” and it’s really interesting to hear children give you reasons like: you have boobs, but you have boys shorts on and a boy haircut, but your voice is kind of like too high for a man. They can’t really figure it out sometimes but it’s good to play this kind of “game” with them because it’s good for them to think about what is giving them these specific gender markers and ask questions like: What is a boy or a girl? Can these things be shared between genders? Can someone be both or can someone have parts of both genders? Things like that.
I grew up in the midwest for 7 years, in the suburbs of Chicago.
Our family isn’t really good about talking about things. If you have feelings, if you’re upset with somebody, whatever, we don’t talk about it. That’s the environment in which I was raised, so when I had these feelings of being different, I wasn’t feeling safe or solid in my shoes and where I was with my gender identity, I didn't talk to them about it. To be fair, my mom was always kind of one of those people that just lets people do what they do. Once I was out of my dad’s life and we moved from Chicago to Arizona, I moved away from the Catholic church, which to me was a scary place to be as a kid ironically. When I went to church, I always had to be in a dress and I never wanted to be in a dress when I was younger.
My mom was actually really okay with the fact that I didn’t want to wear dresses, but I never really knew if she understood why I didn’t want to be in a dress.
I was so excited to not have to shop with my mother anymore when I got older, but then I realized shopping with friends was even harder because shopping is a very gendered thing. I always reluctantly tried to wear the more feminine clothes because they fit my body better but I never felt comfortable in them. Eventually I just went with t-shirt jeans or shorts and that’s basically where I still am to be honest. My mom and I don’t really talk about my gender identity though. To her I am still her daughter. That’s also a big part of why I don’t want to transition. There’s also a possibility of being rejected by my family. Like for example, someone’s family could say “well you can be LGB but if you’re T that’s too much.” My family has been accepting so far--I originally came out as bisexual but now I identify as pansexual. They’re okay with that and they know this is who I am and there was never any kind of anger toward that. It’s just scary because my mom has one daughter and two sons, so it’s like, does my mom want 3 sons? I worry and wonder about those things and they give me anxiety. I also don’t have the means or the money to pay for a transition being a teacher. As I get older I become more comfortable with accepting that this is the body I was born in and I’m okay with that. This is where I am with my identity, so regardless of what my family knows or doesn’t know I will accept it. I'm sure by now they’ve realized it because my gender identity is on Facebook, I’ve changed my name to Jareth and I’m doing the sisterhood now.
The sisterhood is really helping me to explore my gender identity more and the feminine side of myself that I never got to explore growing up.
Being a sister is not drag in the sense that it’s not for performance purposes. I’m not trying to make a buck, or performing on a stage, or lip synching, or anything like that. This is actually the first time I’ve worn makeup since I was like 14. I’m terrible at it because I haven’t been doing it my whole life, but at the same time it’s helping me to explore my feminine side and it’s allowing me to see myself in a different light. I used to try and be as feminine as I could when I was younger and have long hair and get my ears pierced, but then I started realizing that I was trans when I was older I became overly masculine. Everybody knows that Masculinity can be toxic, and it was for me too. I had to realize that me acting a certain way was enforcing a stereotype of masculine people or people that identify as men. The sisterhood is really helping me to find the balance between the two and move back to the middle and it’s been an interesting and wile ride to say the least. I remember when I first saw the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence when I was younger in San Francisco and thinking wow these people are so gorgeous but I could never do that. I thought it was only for cisgendered gay men, so doing this now has really been a dream come true. I also never saw myself being this feminine or having the ability to affect my community in such a positive way.
The highest point in my journey so far has just been realizing that I don’t have to be a stereotype of masculinity, femininity, or of a sexual orientation.
I know it’s important to recognize what doesn’t make me comfortable, and right now I’m at a pretty high point with my journey. I am able to go back and forth with masculine and feminine. It’s allowed me to be less angry about how I’m different and stop thinking about how unfair it is that I wasn’t born in the right body. I’m finally coming to a point where I accept that yes, I did win the minority lotto, but at the same time I can be all of these things at once. I’m really trying to focus on being a whole person. It’s very time consuming to be a full-time teacher and also be a part of the community as a sister and do as many things as possible. The last three years have been really positive for me and I think that’s because I confronted my gender identity and became okay with it as a full spectrum, as opposed to swinging back and forth. It’s been really helpful for me in understanding other people and what they might be going through.
I did a lot of research about what it means to be gay.
For a long time, I actually thought I might be asexual because I didn’t have feelings for anyone. When I finally did, they weren’t people that I “should” date. As someone who was born female, why was I having feelings for other perceived women? I did a lot of googling to find support. There are a lot of great support groups here in Phoenix like Trans Spectrum AZ or One n Ten for youth. There are even support hotlines out there that all do really great work. If anyone who is new to the Spectrum and is struggling, there is a lot of help out there. I would definitely recommend doing that because I didn’t, although I did a lot of research and I think anyone could benefit from that. There were definitely parts of my journey where I felt more isolated because I felt like there was no one out there who would understand what I was going through and I didn’t reach out because I was dealing with other things at the time. Finding other people like you, other queer people, other gay people can be the most supportive thing and help in building long lasting relationships. Finding people who connect with you and genuinely care about you is really helpful especially within the community.