Sunday Spotlight is a series where we profile individuals in the Young Mormon Feminists community to hear their stories and get to know them a little better through Q&A or their personal narratives. This week we talked with Lucas Kieran
Who are you and what are you up to?
My name is Lucas Kieran. I’m a 19-year-old transgender person living in Texas. I use ze/zym/zyr and they/them/their pronouns. Lately I’m masquerading as a binary dude while working fast food by day and being my cool nonbinary genderqueer self while writing fiction, playing Minecraft, composing music, messing with makeup, chatting with people on the Internet, and drinking copious-and-likely-unhealthy amounts of Mountain Dew and Monster by night.
I came home in February 2014 from living in San Francisco, California for five months. It kind of sucks around here, not gonna lie. It’s hot, even in the winter, and the public transit is lacking. I miss the Bay every day (and I like to rhyme all the time…not really). Also it’s hard to come across safe sex stuff without having to actually buy it yourself? Which isn’t a big deal now that I have my own credit card that doesn’t report my purchases to my parents, but still. It’s a culture shock, almost, after bowls of free condoms and lube in youth centers and clinics. But I digress.
The phrases “will this be for here or to go?” and “small, medium, or large?” are forever ingrained into my brain, thanks, Wendy’s. Once I answered my friend’s phone call with “would you like any sauce for your nuggets?” I still haven’t perfected the art of pouring Frosty mix into the machine without getting it all over my hands.
I’m moving to Utah in the summer and will hopefully have a comfier-than-in-a-fast-food-kitchen desk job and more social interactions and direly-needed access to public transit.
I want to attend Utah Valley University and study Psychology, Social Work, and Gender Studies, and dabble a bit in learning more about music, disability justice, feminist theory, Mormon history, and health education. I ultimately want to be a counselor and work primarily with trans youth, Autistic youth, and disabled youth.
What makes you a Mormon?
I was “born under the covenant” to a convert mother and a who-knows-what-generation Mormon father. I was baptized at age eight, and earned my Personal Progress award at age thirteen (including the then-new Virtue value), but it was around fourteen that I started having issues.
I attended Seminary for nearly a full semester before I stopped going, and then I had periods of inactivity from ages fifteen to sixteen. At age seventeen I promised myself I would go to Seminary again, but when the kids in my class started bragging about forcibly outing kids in their classes, I became outspoken about supporting queer people. My Seminary teacher put two and two together and realized I was queer. She was a bit off the mark when she told the Bishop I was a “lesbian,” and I corrected him and told him I identified as transgender, which honestly got me even more grief, and I finally stopped attending.
I feel that Mormonism has played a big part in shaping me and my life, in both good and bad ways, and I identify as Mormon currently in more of a “this is how I grew up” way and less in a “this is what I believe” way.
My current belief in God is less of a “Big Dude in the sky watching us waiting for us to screw up so he can repeat our mistakes back to us on Judgment Day” and more of a “omniscient, simultaneously-genderless-and-possessing-every-gender, loving Being who wants us to be our best selves and love ourselves and create our own destiny.” I really like the idea of a Queer God.
What makes you a feminist?
I believe that girls and women are equal to men (and other genders.) I believe that girls and women are amazing and fantastic and should be celebrated.
I don’t identify as female (except for maybe, like, a very small percentage – my gender identity is complicated and we’ll save it for another day), but a lot of the experiences that shaped my childhood were traumatic in a way that sort of led me to feminism. If I had not been forced into the role of “girl,” I probably would not have experienced a lot of the abuse I faced. I wouldn’t have had to leave high school after being stalked, and probably wouldn’t have been stalked in the first place.
I don’t think girls should be afraid to say no to boys (or to anyone.) I don’t think women should be afraid to say no to men (or to anyone.) I don’t think girls and women should be afraid to be who they are, to speak up, to exist and take up space.
I’m a strong believer in intersectional feminism. If our feminism isn’t inclusive – of women of color, of disabled women, of trans women, of mentally ill women, of fat women – then it is lacking.
What makes you a Mormon feminist?
While I’m not currently sure where I stand on the Church (I’m on an indefinite hiatus, as I mentioned), I’m a strong supporter of the idea of reforming it. There is so much potential, but to reach that potential, so much needs to be changed. I support the ordination of women, I support the observance of non-heterosexual marriages, I support the inclusion of queer folks in the Church.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Oh, wow. Okay. Here we go. This might get sappy and gay, watch out.
In ten years I see myself either in Utah or California. Some suburb of Salt Lake City (or maybe SLC itself), or the Bay. I see myself with a master’s degree in Social Work, and a counseling license. I see myself sitting down with trans youth, with queer youth, with autistic youth, with disabled youth, helping them to process their thoughts and feelings, helping them to find solutions to problems, helping them to make hard choices, helping them to make important changes, helping them to be themselves, supporting them in whatever journeys they are in the midst of.
I see myself with a partner (or possibly two or three partners, honestly), coparenting a kid or two or three. I see myself supporting my partner/s and my children, making sure they know I love them and that they are free to be who they are, and that they should be who they are, because who they are is beautiful. (Yes, this got really sappy and gay.)
Maybe I’ll have written a few Queer Mormon (I’m making that a genre, okay?) screenplays and helped see them to the screen. I’ll likely have a few music albums out. I’ll probably have really great clothes, too, let’s be honest here.
Oh, and there’ll be a trans flag in my living room maybe. (Probably.)
Any parting words for us?
There’s a fish called Boops boops, for the record.
But on a serious note: Protect trans kids. Support trans kids. Love trans kids. Make sure they know they are loved and wanted and supported and safe. Fight for them. Help them find safe spaces. It is so crucial to youth to have safe spaces to be themselves, especially trans youth.
It’s hard to be trans in this world, especially when you’re Mormon and there’s immense pressure to be who “God created you as.” I say, screw that. God wants us all to grow. They want us to thrive. They want us to be happy. We create ourselves. God probably watches on with happiness at us finding ourselves, creating ourselves, dictating ourselves.
If you’re trans and you’re reading this, I love you. If you’re not out, it’s okay. It’s hard to come out. It’s really hard. But I know you can do it, okay? Maybe not today, or next week, maybe not even this year, but you’ll get there. You’ll get there, and it will be so great. It’s not going to be easy, honestly, I’m not going to sugarcoat things and tell you it will. But it will be worth it. You’re going to have rough patches, you’re going to have doubts, you’re going to be unsure about things, and that’s totally natural. Whatever you decide to do, however far you decide to take your transition, I’m rooting for you. I love you. Please be safe. Take care of yourself. You’re wonderful.