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T in the Life: Gabriela "G" Zapata-Alma
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2012-11-28

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Photo courtesy of Zapata-Alma


Pronouns

"Zhe (but am not offended by use of 'she,' 'he,' 'they,' etc., since all correspond to aspects of my gender)."

Identifies as

Two-Spirit

Neighborhood

Logan Square

Job

Associate director of Scattered-Site Housing, and founder/co-chair of the Advocacy Committee at Chicago House & Social Service Agency.

Hobbies

"Eating, reading, spirituality, dogs and other animal friends, all things 'cute,' body modification, performing/playing/writing/enjoying music, dancing around my apartment, consuming and creating art, comic books, activism, gender f*cking, meditation, laughing, nature, carpentry, DIY, skill-sharing, and spending quality time with loved ones."

Do you have a coming out story?

"It seems that there have been people in all areas of my life who have had a tough time recognizing or respecting what it means to be Two Spirit, genderqueer, or pansexual. There is still a huge need for growth in awareness, understanding, and respect for gender variance, even within our own LGBT community, as we have overwhelmingly been raised to see gender as fixed within a gender binary, far and wide within a transphobic cultural context. I first came out in early childhood, and continue to have to reinforce my coming out to this day. When one doesn't fit the gender binary (which in turn affects the definition of one's sexual orientation), it seems like every day is 'coming out day.'"

What is the best thing about being trans/ gender-variant?

"Getting to experience every shade of myself, without being defined or limited by social constructs surrounding gender and sexuality. Communing with my higher spirit, which is comprised of all genders while also being unbound by gender."

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

"Animal welfare; HIV/AIDS; prison abolition and offender/ex-offender rights; bringing justice to the "justice" system; housing and medical access as basic human rights; reproductive rights; body- and sex-positive issues; workers' rights (for all, and especially for the sex industry); feminist issues; racial disparity; rights and protections for substance users; political participation by marginalized populations; pathway to immigration in the USA and EU, world citizenship for all Earth's inhabitants."

When did you start questioning gender?

"Around age 4, but because the doctor assigned one gender while I was in utero, and then changed his mind once I was born; I like to say I've been questioning since in utero."

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

"Gender is a spectrum [draws a line], and where we fall can only be determined by our internal sense. Some individuals' internal senses are always fixed, while others' evolve over time. Some folks' internal experience of gender are more fluid, so that their gender flows back and forth along this spectrum, or is experienced as many points on the spectrum all at once. On the other hand, there are some whose gender doesn't fall on this spectrum at all, and they experience themselves as genderless, 3rd gender, and more."

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


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