by: Khai Devon
I was born Kyleigh Devon Murphy, a pretty girl with big blue eyes and a life set out for me. I’d grow up as the model Christian homeschooled woman, docile and submissive, marry a godly man and pop out babies I’d raise in my image. I’d be educated, and I’d also know all the womanly arts. By the time I was 12, I not only could run a household from dawn ’til dusk, including cooking, cleaning, balancing the checkbook and managing the children, but I also had a pretty decent amount of experience with teaching, because the older child in a homeschooling family always gets to practice on the younger ones.
And I’m glad for that childhood. But I’m not Kyleigh Devon Murphy, and I never really have been—not since I can remember, anyway. Quiet, docile, submissive—these are not words that most people would use to describe me, if they’d ever met me. There is nothing diminutive about me except my stature, and even that is overshadowed by my personality. I may or may not be a Christian—the jury is still out—but I’m certainly not a woman, and I have no desire to marry a godly man. Or, really, any man. I don’t want to pop out babies either. I’ve seen a natural childbirth. No thank you!
The whole idea of being Kyleigh, and living the life she was supposed to live fills me with revulsion. It works for some people. It would never work for me, and for a long time I hated myself because I thought I was failing. I couldn’t fit into the lines drawn for me, and measured against those standards—I am not right. I am, in fact, the epitome of wrongness. And as long as I let those standards define the life I was supposed to live, of course I felt like a failure. Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its entire life believing it is an idiot.” And I’m that fish. I spent a long time believing I was an idiot, that if I just tried harder, somehow something would fall into place and I would suddenly become what I’ve never been.
Turns out, I’m half right. What fell into place was my acceptance of my self. I am not Kyleigh. Instead, I am Khai Devon, loud, brash, genderqueer with a life still unfolding. I still have the big blue eyes and I still know how to make any lesson engaging and fun for any learning style, but I have claimed a new identity—one that accurately reflects my true form. In changing my name, in carving out space for myself that was my own and was determined by my standards rather than anyone else’s, I firmly took a stand. I started judging myself by my ability to swim rather than climb trees, and in the process, I discovered that I can swim quite well.
Living this life, as Khai Devon, the queer activist and writer, I can like myself. I can focus on the fact that while I may never marry a godly man and have a quiver full of kidlets, I do have the ability to make the people around me feel loved and nurtured. I can shift focus from the fact that I don’t fit into the lines I was supposed to grow in to the fact that I’ve drawn new lines all over the board, and some of them actually make cool designs. In changing my name, my junior year of college, I shed the identity I had been handed and stepped into an identity that fit.
Self-acceptance is a process, and it’s not something I’m perfect at yet. There’s a lot about me I’d like to change. But they are things I’d like to change about Khai, because they don’t fit my concept of what I want Khai to be. They aren’t things that I want to change about Kyleigh because that girl doesn’t exist anymore, if she ever really did. That girl is gone, along with all the self-loathing that came from trying to be someone else’s conception of me.
So hi, I’m Khai Devon. I’m loud, brash, in your face, funny, sweet, genderqueer, and I like me as I am. Who are you? Is that because that’s who you are, or is that because that’s who you’ve been told you should be?
Khai Devon is a genderqueer lesbian poet with a dreamer’s sensibility and a compulsion to create the world sie wants to live in. Sie writes blogs at http://disturbinglynormal.wordpress.com, and http://duffelbagandadream.wordpress.com, updating whenever the words overflow and sie has internet access. Sie also writes poems like sie’s breathing, and sie’d like it if you emailed hir at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wanted to talk about poetry, activism, or anything sie’s written about here.