Transcript: Joshua M. Ferguson: Life Beyond Gender Roles | Aug 02, 2019

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a black blazer over a red shirt.

A caption on screen reads "Life beyond the binary. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says WHAT WOULD THE WORLD LOOK LIKE IF SOCIETY ACKNOWLEDGED
AND EMBRACED MORE THAN
TWO GENDERS, MALE AND FEMALE?
THAT'S ONE OF
THE CRITICAL QUESTIONS EXPLORED
IN JOSHUA M. FERGUSON'S NEW BOOK
ME, MYSELF, THEY:
LIFE BEYOND THE BINARY.

A picture of the book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a black and white picture of Joshua wearing a sleeveless blouse and makeup.

Nam continues FERGUSON WAS
THE FIRST ONTARIAN TO RECEIVE
AN "X" NON-BINARY DESIGNATION
ON THEIR BIRTH CERTIFICATE,
AND CONTINUES TO SEEK
CREATIVE CHALLENGES
TO WHAT THEY SEE AS THE
CULTURAL CONSTRUCT OF GENDER.
AND JOSHUA M. FERGUSON
JOINS US NOW FOR MORE. WELCOME.

Joshua is in their early thirties, with long straight chestnut hair. They're wearing a golden blazer with a purple floral pattern, and a beaded necklace.

Joshua says THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Nam says IT'S VERY NICE TO MEET YOU.
THANK YOU.
I REALLY ENJOYED
YOUR BOOK.

Joshua says THANK YOU. THANK YOU
FOR HAVING ME HERE.

Nam says SO, YOU IDENTIFY
AS NON-BINARY.
EXPLAIN TO US WHAT THAT MEANS.

The caption changes to "Joshua M. Ferguson. Author, 'Me, myself, they.'"
Then, it changes again to "Gender X."

Joshua says SO, I LIKE TO SAY...
I GET THIS QUESTION A LOT,
OF COURSE,
AND I LIKE TO SAY THAT
IT MAY MEAN
SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR ME, RIGHT?
SO, MY DEFINITION OF NON-BINARY
MIGHT NOT APPLY
TO ALL NON-BINARY PEOPLE.
SO, FOR ME,
WHAT NON-BINARY MEANS
IS THAT I DON'T IDENTIFY
EXCLUSIVELY AS A MAN OR A WOMAN.
UM, AND THAT, YOU KNOW,
ALL TRANS PEOPLE ARE NOT
THE SAME.
AND YOU KNOW, THE TRANSGENDER,
NON-CONFORMING
AND NON-BINARY COMMUNITY
IS QUITE DIVERSE.
IT WOULD BE EASY TO SEE ME
AS A SPOKESPERSON
FOR THE COMMUNITY, RIGHT?
OR FOR ME TO BEAR THE BURDEN
OF REPRESENTATION
FOR THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY,
AND I'M NOT THE SPOKESPERSON.
I'M ONE OF SO MANY PEOPLE
IN THE COMMUNITY
WHO HAVE THESE STORIES
TO TELL, RIGHT?
WHO ADVOCATE FOR OUR EXISTENCE.
AND SO, UM,
IT'S MUCH MORE COMPLEX
THAN ONE PERSON DOING THE WORK.

Nam says ONE DEFINITION.

Joshua says OR ONE DEFINITION.
YOU KNOW, THERE'S MORE DIVERSITY
AND THERE'S SORT OF
MORE RICHNESS TO OUR COMMUNITY
THAN THAT.

Nam says WELL, YOU WRITE IN THE BOOK,
"I WANT TO BE, AND I AM,
"HYBRID, MULTIPLE,
PART MAN, PART WOMAN,
PART SOMETHING ELSE."

Joshua says YES.

Nam says "BEYOND WHAT SIMPLE
LANGUAGE CAN CAPTURE."

Joshua says YES.

Nam says DO YOU SEE THIS AS
A NEW WAY
TO DEFINE GENDER,
OR TO THINK OF GENDER,
MOVING AWAY
FROM DEFINITIONS?

The caption changes to "Joshua M. Ferguson, @joshuamferguson."

Joshua says I THINK GENDER ACTUALLY DEFIES
A SORT OF STABLE,
COHERENT DEFINITION,
WHEN WE THINK ABOUT
WHAT GENDER MEANS.
BECAUSE GENDER
SORT OF ENCOMPASSES
GENDER IDENTITY,
GENDER EXPRESSION, SEX.
AND SO, ALL OF THOSE THINGS...
GENDER IDENTITY
AND GENDER EXPRESSION
ARE CERTAINLY DIFFERENT THINGS, RIGHT?
GENDER IDENTITY IS HOW WE FEEL,
AND GENDER EXPRESSION IS
HOW WE PERFORM, BEHAVE,
EXPRESS OURSELVES IN THE WORLD.
SO, IN A WAY,
GENDER IS QUITE DIFFICULT
TO DEFINE
BECAUSE IT'S ALWAYS...
YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND IT
IN RELATION TO
A TIME AND A PLACE.
SO, WHERE YOU ARE IN THE WORLD
OR IN TERMS OF
HISTORICAL CONTEXT.
BECAUSE IT CHANGES.
OUR NOTION OF GENDER
HAS CHANGED
OVER THE COURSE OF TIME,
AND OUR LANGUAGE CONTINUES
TO EVOLVE.
AND SO, YOU KNOW,
I THINK THERE'S ONE THING
THAT'S CERTAIN
ABOUT MY IDENTITY
AND WHY NON-BINARY MAKES SENSE
FOR ME NOW.

Nam says WHAT'S THAT?

Joshua says THAT'S THE FLUID ASPECT OF IT.AND I THINK THAT WE HAVE
REDUCED OURSELVES
AS HUMAN BEINGS
TO SUCH SIMPLE TERMS TO
UNDERSTAND ONE ANOTHER, RIGHT?
WE'VE CATEGORIZED OURSELVES
AND IN A WAY,
THAT'S CREATED DIVISIONS
WHERE WE SEE EVERYTHING
AS ONE OR THE OTHER.
IT DOESN'T JUST APPLY
TO GENDER.
SO, THE FLUID SORT OF ASPECT
OF MY IDENTITY, I THINK,
IS MUCH MORE SIMILAR
TO WHAT A LOT OF US FEEL
THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES.
WE CHANGE AND
WE EVOLVE AS PEOPLE.
AND SO FOR ME, I AM OPEN TO
WHERE THAT EVOLUTION
MIGHT TAKE ME,
HAVING A FLUID SUBJECTIVITY
IN THE FUTURE.
AND THAT OPENNESS,
AND THAT SORT OF...
THE POSSIBILITY FOR, YOU KNOW,
GROWTH...
I MAY NOT, YOU KNOW,
EXPRESS MY GENDER THE SAME WAY
IN A FEW MONTHS
FROM NOW,
AND THAT MAY CHANGE.
I MAY START TO
IDENTIFY MY GENDER
A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENTLY.

Nam says BUT YOU SHOULD HAVE
THE FREEDOM
TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT.

Joshua says I SHOULD HAVE THE FREEDOM
TO BE...
WE SHOULD ALL HAVE THE FREEDOM
TO BE WHO WE ARE. IT DOESN'T HARM OR THREATEN
ANYONE ELSE.

Nam says AND JUST TO PICK UP
ON THAT,
SOMETHING WE'VE BEEN HEARING
A LOT IS "BORN THIS WAY."

Joshua says YES.

Nam says AND IT'S BECOME A RALLYING CALL
FOR THE
LGBTQ COMMUNITY.

Joshua says YES.

Nam says BUT YOU SAY
THAT YOU HAVEN'T
ALWAYS BEEN VERY COMFORTABLE,
IS IT FAIR TO SAY,
WITH THAT PHRASE?
HOW COME?

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Joshua says I THINK, UM...
WELL, I ALSO WANT TO SAY,
YOU KNOW, AGAIN,
THIS IS MY STORY
AND MY SORT OF OPINION ABOUT IT
AND HOW I FEEL.
AND CERTAINLY,
BEING BORN THIS WAY
FOR A LOT OF US...
I DO THINK THAT I WAS BORN
WITH, YOU KNOW, A SORT OF
QUEER SEXUAL IDENTITY FOR SURE.
BUT IN TERMS OF
MY GENDER IDENTITY,
I DO THINK THAT
YOU KNOW,
WE COME INTO THIS WORLD
BEING ASSIGNED A SEX
RIGHT AT BIRTH.
AND WITH THAT,
WE'RE ASSIGNED OUR GENDER
THAT CORRELATES
WITH OUR SEX.
SO, WE'RE MEANT TO BE
YOU KNOW, IF WE'RE
ASSIGNED MALE AT BIRTH,
WE'RE MEANT TO BE MASCULINE
RIGHT AWAY,
AND A BOY AND THEN A MAN.
YOU KNOW?
AND, UH, BECAUSE
I'VE EXPERIENCED
MY IDENTITY SHIFTING
AND CHANGING THROUGH MY LIFE,
I'M NOT SO SURE THAT I WAS BORN
WITH AN IDEA
OF MY GENDER IDENTITY.
BECAUSE I THINK
GENDER IDENTITY
AND THE WAY
WE UNDERSTAND GENDER
IS SO...
HAS SUCH A DEEP CONNECTION
WITH CULTURE, RIGHT?
AND SO, FOR EXAMPLE,
THE GENDER BINARY IS REALLY,
LIKE, A COLONIAL MINDSET.
RIGHT?
SO, PART OF DECONSTRUCTING THAT
IS DECONSTRUCTING
THIS SORT OF COLONIAL,
ENLIGHTENMENT IDEA
OF CATEGORIZING PEOPLE,
AND DOING AWAY WITH
SORT OF CULTURAL DIVERSITY.
SO...
SO, THE "BORN THIS WAY" CONCEPT
AND THIS NEED TO SORT OF CONFESS
OUR IDENTITIES, RIGHT,
IN ORDER TO BE CONSIDERED
TO BE LEGITIMATE SUBJECTS
IN SOCIETY,
I'M NOT SO SURE THAT IT
NECESSARILY MAKES SENSE FOR ME,
BECAUSE THAT WOULD MEAN
THAT I HAVE
A SORT OF STABLE, COHERENT,
YOU KNOW, PERMANENT IDENTITY
THROUGHOUT MY LIFE.
UM, AND I THINK FOR SOME OF US,
IT'S MORE FLUID THAN THAT.

Nam says RIGHT.
WHEN SPEAKING OF WHEN
YOU WERE BORN, AND THEY...

Joshua says YES.

Nam says YOU WERE IDENTIFIED
AS MALE,
AND YOU FOUGHT TO
HAVE THAT CHANGED
ON YOUR
BIRTH CERTIFICATE.

Joshua says WELL, I WAS ACTUALLY, UM,
FUNNY ENOUGH...

Nam says WELL, IN THE BOOK YOU...

Joshua says YEAH.
THE DOCTOR ACTUALLY...

Nam says THOUGHT YOU WERE
A GIRL FIRST.

Joshua says I STARTED THE BOOK...
I START
ME, MYSELF, THEY
WITH THAT. THE DOCTOR SAID, "IT'S A GIRL,"
AND THEN PAUSED.

Nam says AND YOUR PARENTS
CAME UP WITH A NAME.

Joshua says SOME SUSPENSE IN THE ROOM!
YEP.
I WAS NAMED KATE.

Nam says YES.

Joshua says AND THEN THE DOCTOR SAID,
"IT'S A BOY,"
AND THEN THE NAME WAS CHANGED.
SO, YOU KNOW,
THAT WAS KIND OF A FORECAST
OF WHAT MY LIFE WOULD BE LIKE.

Nam says MM-HMM. YEAH.

Joshua says AND NOW IT'S COME
FULL CIRCLE, IN A WAY.

Nam says WELL, YOU BECAME THE
FIRST ONTARIAN TO HAVE AN "X,"
TO CHANGE
YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE.

Joshua says RIGHT.

Nam says WHY WAS THAT IMPORTANT
FOR YOU TO DO?

Joshua says UM, IT WAS IMPORTANT BECAUSE
I NEEDED IDENTITY DOCUMENTS
THAT REFLECTED THE TRUTH
OF WHO I AM. AND FOR ME, BEING BOXED INTO
MALE OR FEMALE
ON MY IDENTITY DOCUMENTS
NEVER FELT GOOD.
AND I EXPERIENCED
A LOT OF EMBARRASSMENT
AND RIDICULE,
LAUGHS, FUNNY LOOKS,
WHENEVER I PRESENTED MY ID
WITH AN "M."
FOR SIMPLE THINGS LIKE
GOING TO THE POST OFFICE
OR THE LIQUOR STORE.
I MEAN, IT EXPOSED ME
TO A LOT OF
UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATIONS
ALMOST ON A DAILY BASIS.
AND SO, YOU KNOW,
I KNEW THAT THAT WAS IMPORTANT
FOR ME.
DID I SET OUT TO DO THAT
TO MAKE A LARGER POINT?
UM, I'M NOT SO SURE. I DID IT FOR MYSELF.
CERTAINLY, A YEAR AGO,
IT FELT LIKE A VICTORY FOR
THE MEMBERS OF MY COMMUNITY
THAT WOULD WANT THAT DESIGNATION
ON THEIR IDENTIFICATION.
BUT I ALSO LIKE TO...
I DON'T REALLY LIKE TO...
I LIKE TO PUSH BACK A LITTLE BIT
ON BEING THE FIRST. BECAUSE I THINK WE'RE SO USED
TO, IN OUR SOCIETY,
TO SORT OF ELEVATE SOME VOICES,
RIGHT?
AND I HAVE A LOT OF PRIVILEGE
AS A WHITE TRANS PERSON.
AND SO, THE VOICES
THAT WE OFTEN ELEVATE
SOMETIMES REFLECT
THAT PRIVILEGE.
AND I HAVE TO ACKNOWLEDGE
THE RICH HISTORY
OF MY COMMUNITY,
AND THE PEOPLE
WHO HAVE COME BEFORE ME
AND WHO, YOU KNOW,
ARE IN MY COMMUNITY NOW
FIGHTING AND PAVING THE PATH.
SO, ALTHOUGH I WAS THE FIRST
IN ONTARIO,
I WAS CERTAINLY NOT THE FIRST
IN MANY WAYS.
BECAUSE I'M HERE TODAY,
YOU KNOW,
WITH THIS BOOK,
THANKS TO THE GENERATIONS
OF TRUTH-TELLERS
BEFORE ME, AND WHO EXIST NOW,
AND ALL OF THE, YOU KNOW,
BLACK, INDIGENOUS,
PEOPLE OF COLOUR
IN OUR TRANS COMMUNITY WHO ARE
DOING SUCH INCREDIBLE WORK.

Nam says YOU'RE VERY GENEROUS
AND YOU HAVE
A LOT OF SELF-AWARENESS.
WHERE DID THAT BEGIN?
LIKE, WHERE DOES THAT COME FROM?

The caption changes to "Trauma and questioning."

Joshua says WHEN YOU'RE A KID WHO...
I WAS VERY FREE AS A CHILD.
UP UNTIL, UM, ABOUT AGE EIGHT.
AND, UM,
AS SOON AS I STEPPED
OUTSIDE OF THE HOME...
I HAD VERY GOOD...
I HAVE VERY GOOD PARENTS WHO
ALLOWED ME TO BE WHO I WAS.
BUT AS SOON AS I STARTED
TO STEP OUT OF THE HOME,
AND INTO, YOU KNOW,
THE INTERNAL SORT OF SPACE...
OR EXTERNAL SPACES,
LIKE SCHOOLS AND INSTITUTIONS
AND SYSTEMS,
AND, YOU KNOW, SOCIETY,
PIECES OF ME
WERE RIPPED AWAY FROM ME.
AND IN ORDER TO
GATHER THOSE PIECES AGAIN
AND PUT MYSELF BACK TOGETHER,
WHICH IS ESSENTIALLY WHAT
ME, MYSELF, THEY
IS ABOUT...
IT'S ABOUT PUTTING MYSELF
BACK TOGETHER AGAIN.

Nam says I FEEL LIKE I'M...
(LAUGHING)
I'M A SENSITIVE PERSON,
BUT KNOWING WHAT I KNOW ABOUT
SOME OF THE THINGS
THAT YOU'VE GONE THROUGH
IN YOUR BOOK...
I HAVE
TWO SMALL KIDS.
AND YOU WRITE ABOUT
YOUR PARENTS.
THE SITUATION
WASN'T ALWAYS PERFECT.
BUT, UM, YOU KNOW,
YOU SAY THAT, UM...
YOU WRITE ABOUT
THE CHALLENGES
THAT THEY FACED IN TRYING TO
HELP YOU NAVIGATE THE WORLD.

Joshua says YES.

Nam says ESPECIALLY WHEN OTHER PEOPLE
WERE TELLING THEM
WHAT WAS GOING ON
WITH YOU
OR WHAT WAS WRONG
WITH YOU.

Joshua says YES. YEAH.

Nam says WHAT DO YOU SAY TO PARENTS
WHO ARE WATCHING THIS,
WHETHER OR NOT THEY HAVE A CHILD
WITH A NON-BINARY IDENTITY?

Joshua says I THINK PARENTS
WITH ANY CHILDREN...
YOU KNOW, IT'S PROBABLY...
WHAT I FOUND
THROUGH TELLING MY STORY IS
YOU KNOW, TRANSFORMING MY TRAUMA
INTO CREATIVITY,
EMPATHY AND STRENGTH.
AND I HAD A REALIZATION
THAT WE'RE MORE SIMILAR
THAN WE ARE DIFFERENT
FROM ONE ANOTHER.
AND WE OFTEN THINK THAT,
YOU KNOW,
IN THE NARRATIVES
OF TRANS PEOPLE,
THAT THEY'RE SO DIFFERENT
FROM CIS PEOPLE.
AND I THINK WHAT
WE SHOULD REALLY UNDERSTAND
IS THAT WE ALL FACE
SIMILAR STRUGGLES.
AND KIDS,
WHETHER THEY'RE LGBTQ,
TWO-SPIRIT,
MANY KIDS FACE ISSUES
OF BULLYING
AND DEHUMANIZATION
AND MARGINALIZATION
AND ISOLATION IN CHILDHOOD.
AND SO, I THINK THAT
THE EXPERIENCE
THAT MY PARENTS WENT THROUGH
IN RAISING A CHILD WHO WAS,
YOU KNOW,
SEVERELY MARGINALIZED
AND BULLIED AND TORMENTED...
I THINK MY MESSAGE
WOULDN'T JUST BE TO PARENTS
WITH TRANS KIDS.
IT WOULD BE TO PARENTS
WITH KIDS
WHO MAY BE UNIQUE OR ECCENTRIC
OR, YOU KNOW, MAY HAVE
A MARGINALIZED IDENTITY.
AND, UH...
OF ANY SORT, YOU KNOW?
IN TERMS OF
INTERSECTIONAL DIFFERENCE.
THAT, UM...
TO JUST BE THERE FOR YOUR CHILD.
TO BE THERE
FOR YOUR CHILD.
TO SHOW UP FOR
YOUR CHILD
IN WHATEVER FORM THEY MAY TAKE,
WHOEVER THEY MIGHT BE.
ALLOW THEM TO BE WHO THEY ARE.
NEVER TELL THEM WHO TO BE,
YOU KNOW?
AND BE VERY CAUTIOUS
ABOUT THE SYSTEMS
TRYING TO, UM, CONFORM A CHILD
TO WHAT THE SYSTEM THINKS
A CHILD SHOULD BE.
BECAUSE CHILDREN BRING
A LOT OF MAGIC
AND CREATIVITY AND COMPASSION
WITH THEM
WHEN THEY COME INTO THIS WORLD.
AND I THINK
IT'S A REALLY POWERFUL THING
WHEN WE ALLOW CHILDREN
JUST TO BE WHO THEY ARE.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Nam says I WANT TO TALK ABOUT
PRONOUNS.
YOU WRITE THIS ABOUT PRONOUNS.

Joshua says YEAH.

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Pronouns." The quote reads "Pronouns are of vital importance to trans people because they are one of the primary agents of autonomy and social recognition that we have. The failure to use a person's pronouns, or repeated misuse of pronouns, is called misgendering. And if the person doing the misgendering is intentionally enacting harm and harassing a trans person by using incorrect pronouns to insist that they adhere to their sex and gender assigned at birth, this could be classified as a form of transphobic violence enacted on trans people."
Quoted from Joshua M. Ferguson, "Me, myself, they."

Nam says I'VE SEEN THIS A LOT,
ESPECIALLY ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
WHERE PEOPLE
SAY VIOLENCE IS,
YOU KNOW, PHYSICAL.

Joshua says RIGHT.

Nam says HOW CAN...
HOW CAN IT BE VIOLENCE
FOR SOMEONE TO SAY SOMETHING

The caption changes to "The pronoun dilemma."

Joshua says OR TO USE THE WRONG PRONOUNS?
WELL, I THINK I HAVE A LOT TO
SAY ABOUT PRONOUNS IN THE BOOK.
AND I ACTUALLY DON'T THINK THAT
MISGENDERING,
MOST OF THE TIME,
IS VIOLENT OR MALICIOUS.
I DO THINK THAT THERE ARE CASES
OF MISGENDERING
WHERE IT IS MALICIOUS,
AND THE PERSON DOING
THE MISGENDERING
IS INTENTIONALLY TRYING TO
DEHUMANIZE THE TRANS PERSON.
AND IT IS A FORM OF VIOLENCE,
BECAUSE IT STRIPS US
OF WHO WE ARE.
AND SO...
BUT I ALSO SAY A LOT
ABOUT PRONOUNS
IN TERMS OF THE CULTURAL
CONDITIONING THAT WE'RE ALL...
THAT WE ALL GO THROUGH.
AND THIS SORT OF, YOU KNOW,
WIRING OF OUR BRAINS
TO THINK IN THE BINARY
AND NOTHING ELSE.
AND I THINK
THE PRONOUN ISSUE
HAS SORT OF BEEN MAGNIFIED
AS THE MOST...
ONE OF THE SORT OF
MOST IMPORTANT THINGS
ABOUT TRANS PEOPLE
AND OUR IDENTITIES.
IT IS CERTAINLY
A PART OF OUR EXPERIENCE.
AND FOR A LOT OF US,
IT'S AN IMPORTANT PART
OF, YOU KNOW, OPENING UP
TO OUR FAMILIES
AND OUR FRIENDS
AND OUR COMMUNITIES,
TO HAVE THEM, YOU KNOW,
PROPERLY ACKNOWLEDGE
OUR IDENTITIES.
BUT IT'S NOT THE BIGGEST THING,
AND I AM FORGIVING
ABOUT MISGENDERING
BECAUSE I FEEL THAT
THE ADJUSTMENT
WHEN IT COMES TO LANGUAGE
IS SOMETHING THAT
A LOT OF PEOPLE STRUGGLE WITH.
MY PARENTS, FOR EXAMPLE,
HAVE KNOWN MY PRONOUNS
FOR ALMOST FOUR YEARS NOW,
AND THEY STILL MAKE MISTAKES.

Nam says YOU EVEN WRITE
YOUR HUSBAND...

Joshua says MY HUSBAND STILL MAKES MISTAKES.
GOOD FRIENDS OF MINE
STILL MAKE MISTAKES.
SO, PEOPLE WILL
MAKE MISTAKES.
I SOMETIMES
MAKE MISTAKES
ABOUT OTHER TRANS PEOPLE.
SO, WE'RE ALL HUMAN.
WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES.
BUT THE...
REALLY, WHEN WE MAKE A MISTAKE,
WE NEED TO OWN UP TO IT.
WE NEED TO ACKNOWLEDGE IT.
WE NEED TO THEN APOLOGIZE.
BECAUSE IT'S REALLY NOT ABOUT...
IF I MISGENDER A TRANS PERSON
BY ACCIDENT,
IT'S NOT ABOUT ME.
IT'S ABOUT THAT TRANS PERSON.
AND OFTEN, WHAT HAPPENS IS
WE START TO THINK
ABOUT OURSELVES IN THAT MOMENT.

Nam says IT'S EMBARRASSING.

Joshua says WE FEEL SHAME, YEAH.
AND WE START TO FEEL EMBARRASSED
AND WE FEEL ASHAMED,
AND WE FEEL, YOU KNOW, NERVOUS
AND DEFENSIVE.

Nam says OR WE FEEL DEFENSIVE,
BECAUSE IT'S, LIKE,

Joshua says OH, WE'RE TRYING, OR...
EXACTLY.
AND SO, INSTEAD OF THAT, WE NEED
TO JUST ACKNOWLEDGE IT
AND APOLOGIZE.
SAY IT AGAIN, BECAUSE I FIND
THAT THAT'S KIND OF LIKE
A REWIRING, RIGHT, OF, LIKE,
OUR PATHWAYS IN OUR BRAIN.
LIKE, JUST TO SAY IT AGAIN
AND MOVE ON.

Nam says DO YOU THINK, TOO...
I KNOW YOU'RE NOT SPEAKING FOR
THE WHOLE COMMUNITY.

Joshua says YES. NO, I'M NOT.

Nam says BUT WHEN WE HAVE "THEY."

Joshua says YES?

Nam says BECAUSE WE ALREADY USE IT
SO MUCH
TO REFER TO
SOMETHING ELSE.

Joshua says WE DO, YES.

Nam says AND THEN THE GRAMMAR...

Joshua says YES.

Nam says DO YOU THINK THAT MAYBE WE NEED ANOTHER WORD
IN PLACE OF "THEY," OR...

Joshua says I DO TH... THERE ARE OTHER
GENDER-NEUTRAL PRONOUNS.
"THEY," "THEM," "THEIRS,"
HAS BEEN USED IN OUR LEXICON
FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS.
IT WAS ACTUALLY USED A LOT MORE
HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO,
AND I THINK IT'S SORT OF
RE-EMERGING. AND IT'S SORT OF
WIDELY ACCEPTED NOW
BY MANY INSTITUTIONS AS A...
AND I THINK, YOU KNOW, IT'S
REALLY JUST THINKING ABOUT...
I KNOW IT'S THE SINGULAR
VERSUS PLURAL THING
THAT PEOPLE HAVE
A HARD TIME WITH.
AND, UM...
BUT WE DO USE
"THEY," "THEM," "THEIR."
FOR AN INDIVIDUAL
IN WAYS
THAT WE DON'T...
A LOT MORE THAN WE REALIZE.
YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

Nam says AGAIN, WE JUST
HAVE TO RES...

Joshua says AND WE DON'T EVEN REALIZE
WE'VE SAID IT,
AND MANY PEOPLE USE IT.
SO, IT'S JUST ABOUT
A CONSCIOUSNESS SHIFT, RIGHT?

Nam says AND MAKING OURSELVES
UNCOMFORTABLE.

Joshua says AND MAKING OURSELVES...
YEAH, RIGHT.
IT'S MAYBE
A LITTLE BIT UNCOMFORTABLE.
BUT A CONSCIOUSNESS SHIFT
JUST TO RESPECT US.

Nam says AND TO SEE. YEP.

Joshua says AS FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS.
YOU KNOW, IT'S REALLY NOT
SO MUCH TO ASK.

Nam says WE ONLY HAVE
A FEW MINUTES,
AND I REALLY WANT TO
TALK ABOUT YOUR ART.

Joshua says YEAH. PLEASE.

Nam says OKAY, GREAT.
HOW DID YOU BECOME
A FILMMAKER?

The caption changes to "The artist."

Joshua says UM...
WELL, I KNEW...
IN THE STORY,
IN ME, MYSELF, THEY,
I REFERENCE A STORY
WHERE I WAS IN MY EARLY 20S
AND I WAS STARTING COLLEGE
AFTER, YOU KNOW, SOME REALLY...
SOME STRUGGLES WITH EDUCATION
AND FINDING MYSELF AGAIN
AFTER BEING TORMENTED SO MUCH
THROUGHOUT HIGH SCHOOL.
AND REALIZING THAT...
I ALWAYS FELT LIKE I WAS SORT OF
BORN INTO THIS WORLD
TO AFFECT PEOPLE,
TO REACH PEOPLE.
TO CONNECT WITH PEOPLE.
AND SO, I WAS IN A SORT OF
INTRODUCTORY MEDIA ARTS PROGRAM
AT ALGONQUIN COLLEGE,
AND IT CLICKED THEN.
AND THEN WHEN I WENT TO
WESTERN UNIVERSITY
AND STUDIED FILM STUDIES...
ENROLLED IN FILM STUDIES
IN A MORE FORMAL SENSE,
I STARTED TO LEARN ABOUT
THE MECHANICS BEHIND
THIS INCREDIBLE ART FORM
THAT TOUCHES ALL OF US.
I MEAN,
WHO DOESN'T LOVE MOVIES?
UM, I REALIZED THAT FILMMAKING
WAS MY SORT OF GREATEST CHANCE
AT AFFECTING PEOPLE.
UM, AND SO,
MY HUSBAND AND I...
FORTUNATELY, MY HUSBAND
ALSO HAD THAT DREAM.
AND WE FORMED
OUR PRODUCTION COMPANY
AND WE'VE MADE FILMS,
AND WE HAVE NOW FEATURE FILMS
IN DEVELOPMENT.
AND, UH, YOU KNOW...
BUT I LIKE TO SAY THAT
I'M A FILMMAKER, AN ARTIST,
AND A WRITER NOW.
AND I'VE WRITTEN THIS MEMOIR,
BUT I ALSO HAVE A SECOND BOOK
THAT I'M WRITING.
A YOUNG ADULT
FANTASY-FICTION.
SO, UM...

Nam says WELL, WHAT INSPIRES
YOU MOST
IN YOUR CREATIVE WORK?

Joshua says WHAT INSPIRES ME MOST
ARE STORIES
THAT HAVEN'T BEEN TOLD YET.
FOR EXAMPLE,
I WANT TO WRITE FANTASY
BECAUSE I OFTEN FIND THAT
IN SCIENCE-FICTION
OR FANTASY WORKS,
THERE'S SUCH A SORT OF, UM...
AND I DON'T WANT TO GENERALIZE,
BUT OFTEN A SORT OF BORING,
UNREALISTIC
REPRESENTATION,
OF WHAT SEX, GENDER IDENTITY,
GENDER EXPRESSION, SEXUALITY
WOULD LOOK LIKE
IN 200 YEARS FROM NOW
OR IN SOME SORT OF
FANTASY REALM.
AND SO, I WANT TO BRING
EVERYTHING I KNOW
ABOUT THAT
TO THOSE REALMS.
BECAUSE I THINK WE NEED
MORE WORKS.
WE NEED MORE FILMS AND BOOKS
THAT REFLECT THE REALITY
OF OUR EXISTENCE,
THE DIVERSITY OF OUR SOCIETY.
SO, THAT'S WHAT REALLY KIND OF...
TO SORT OF...
I CALL MYSELF AN ALCHEMIST, TOO,
BECAUSE IT'S KIND OF LIKE
COMBINING MYSELF,
THE MATTER OF MYSELF,
AND THEN THE MATTER OF MY ART
AND THEN THE MATTER
OF SORT OF
THE STUFF OF SOCIETY
AND JUST SORT OF, LIKE,
MIXING THEM TOGETHER
TO CREATE SOMETHING NEW.

Nam says GREAT.
WE HAVE 30 SECONDS LEFT.

Joshua says YES?

Nam says AND I JUST WANT TO ASK YOU
ONE LAST QUESTION.

Joshua says OKAY.

Nam says WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO
YOUNG JOSHUA AT EIGHT YEARS OLD?
'CAUSE IN THE BOOK,
THAT SEEMED TO BE
A PIVOTAL POINT
IN TIME FOR YOU.

Joshua says IT'S SUCH A TOUGH QUESTION, YOU KNOW?
BECAUSE I'VE RECENTLY
RECLAIMED LITTLE JOSHUA,
AND I WOULD SAY, UM... THAT... YOU KNOW...

With a broken voice, Joshua says
STAY TRUE TO WHO YOU ARE.
DON'T LET THE DARKNESS TAKE YOU.
CONTINUE MOVING TO THE LIGHT,
EVEN THOUGH IT MAY BE
GETTING SMALLER AND SMALLER.
AND NEVER STOP LOOKING UP
AT THE STARS.

Nam says JOSHUA, IT'S BEEN GREAT
MEETING YOU.
THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Joshua says THANK YOU SO MUCH.

The caption changes to "Producer: Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta."

Nam says AND WHAT A
TERRIFIC BOOK.
LOOKING FORWARD TO
THE OTHER BOOK
THAT YOU'RE
GOING TO WRITE.

Joshua says THANK YOU.

Watch: Joshua M. Ferguson: Life Beyond Gender Roles