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T in the Life: Andy Karol
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2012-09-26

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Pronouns: Her, their, they; enjoys being "Sir'd"

Identifies as: Genderqueer, queer, fluid, gender aficionado

Neighborhood: Avondale

Life's work: "My life's work is to touch people through art, be it through photography or writing. In doing so, I hope to be an instigator for change in positive ways."

Website: www.andykarol.com

What is the best thing about being gender-variant?

"The best thing about being gender-variant or fluid is that I feel more normal than those who play their roles to fulfill others' expectations. Okay, if this is not normal, then I choose being weird. I enjoy being able to fully align my values, expectations of myself, career choices, and more with the true person I am, whether the thoughts or actions I have are more masculine-, or feminine-, centered. This opens up much more of the world to me! Most of all, I love making people question their own gender and how they perceive gender. I'm like a walking, talking gender informational booth. Call me 'Sir,' and take a number."

Whom do you admire most?

"I admire young kids the most. They teach us all we need to know, and they are never afraid to ask questions and accept ideas that seem inconceivable to most adults."

What issues outside of the queer community do you care about?

"I am an advocate for women's issues. I feel that in understanding and accepting gender fluidity/variance, we have a greater chance for equality between the sexes as well."

When did you start questioning gender?

"I think I started questioning gender when I was just a little kid and was told the roles that were 'appropriate' for me. I admit it: I was brainwashed by society and put on the costume for most of my life, but the last few years I have become more of the person I was meant to be, and I am proud of this person!"

How do you explain the way you feel about gender to others?

"I was asked by a friend, 'Do you ever not think about gender?' No, I really don't. It is my work and my life. Sure, I photograph people who are more gender-variant as a career choice, but then I do my own field research daily just by leaving my house. Try to forget about it, but it's always there, helping to construct the way people treat you or how you go about your activities. Heck, I went on a camping trip the other week to get away and not think about all of life's normal stuff, and lo and behold, I walk into the bathroom at the campground and freak out a lady who tells me 'Only girls allowed in here.' I mean, really, try to get away from it, but it's always going to find you."

Photo courtesy of Karol. To nominate a person for T in the life, email: Kate Sosin sosin@windycitytimes.com


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