Tom and Alli are speaking to one another. Tom is shrugging in a frustrated way, while Alli looks perplexed.
Tom: Ugh, I don’t get it. Cis, trans, pan, bi, intersex, het, monosexual, polysexual, polygamous, ace, aro, POC: Identity politics is all about labels. Why do you want to put yourself in a box?
Tom has crossed his arms, and Alli is waving one hand.
Alli: Self identification isn’t limiting, it’s liberating. If you insist on calling me a girl, that feels like a box. But if I’m allowed to identify as genderfluid, it’s more like a garden.
Tom: What does that even mean?
Alli standing uncomfortably in a very traditional looking garden with a pathway, shrubs, and flowers.
Alli: When I first started exploring my identity, it was full of all the things you expect to find as a part of our culture. As a garden, it was made up of heteronormative hedges and binary bushes and frail femininity flowers. It didn’t feel right for me.
Alli in a bandana, sweating, using hedge clippers on a large plant. There is a second image of Alli, this one is smiling and holding a pot with a newly planted sapling.
Allli: So I started doing some hard work, cutting back, or pulling out the things I didn’t want – and carefully planting and encouraging things that felt like they fit me better.
A person stands next to a big, healthy tree and lovingly pats its trunk.
Text: Some people don’t see any validation or appreciation for their background in the culture as a whole, so that becomes a large part of their identity.
A person looks concerned and is grafting and stabilizing a damaged tree.
Text: Some people are attacked for their identity and spend a lot of time healing and working to grow.
Two people standing on either side of a fence. The person on the left is shrugging and looks happy as their plant grows over the fence and the person on the right looks startled that their neighbor’s plant is a threat to their flowers.
Text: Some identities grow rapidly because they’re more supported by their environments and can overpower others if you aren’t careful. Just like it would be rude to let your honeysuckle strangle your neighbor’s begonias, it’s also rude (and can be very harmful) to let your heteronormativity erase his bisexuality.
Alli and Tom are on two sides of a fence, each smiling and each standing in very different gardens.
Text: It’s not a bad thing to be straight or white or cis or male. If that’s who you are, and you’ve never had to question it that’s fine.
Tom leaning over a fence and cutting a bush in someone else’s garden, and Tom holding a bag of seeds and pointing to where he thinks Alli should plant them.
Text: But it is a problem when people attack someone else’s identity or tell others how to manage their own identities, and it’s important to respect that someone who has nurtured and cared for their identity knows what’s right for them.
Three people smiling. The first person is holding a bouquet; the second person is holding a basket full of fruits and vegetables with a couple of flowers; the third person is holding a sapling in a burlap bag.
Text: It’s wonderful that we live in a world where people can explore their identities and grow into something they’re happy with. It’s even more wonderful when they feel comfortable enough to share what they’ve made with the world so that other people have the opportunity to grow from it as well.
A person watering their garden while Tom looks confused.
Text: When someone has an identity that is different than yours that doesn’t threaten or invalidate your identity, it just means you aren’t the same and that’s great because the world thrives on variety.
Tom and Alli speaking again, Tom’s hands are spread in a gesture of frustration, Alli is smiling and holding a hand up to her chest.
Tom: But that’s still limiting! That means it’s my responsibility to ensure that my gender identity doesn’t overshadow someone else’s and my sexuality doesn’t intrude on another’s.
Alli: Yes, just like it’s my responsibility not to use my whiteness to speak over people of color. It’s not a box, it’s a boundary that allows other people equal room to flourish.
Tom looking resigned, Alli smiling.
Tom: Ugh, I don’t want to stifle anyone, but getting rid of my internalized prejudice seems like a lot of work.
Alli: It is, but I can help if you’d like.
Tom: Thanks, that would be nice. I don’t even know where to start.
Alli: Asking for information is where you start. Now let’s do some weeding!