When he and she don't fit

Quinn Weiner ’21 uses they/them pronouns. This is just one of the ways they're challenging society's ideas about gender.

Quinn Weiner ’21Mike Lovett

Quinn Weiner

For most of their early life, strangers treated Quinn Weiner ’21 like they were female. 

Then five years ago, they underwent a masculinizing transition, taking testosterone treatments, and strangers started treating them like they were male.

But Weiner self-identifies as transgender and non-binary. They don’t see themself as belonging to the category of male or female. 

They ask that people use they/them pronouns to refer to them. 

They dress in a combination of what are traditionally considered male and female clothing, often sporting loose tops and tight bottoms. They describe their appearance as androgynous. 

“I know that identity is more complex than” being one thing or another, they said. “Even when I use the words ‘trans,’ in certain contexts it places all non-cisgender people into one category. But I know it’s not that simple, and I want to be sure to acknowledge that as well.”

Weiner said that by age 15, they already knew the categories of male or female didn’t apply to them. They read about trans identities on the web and realized there was a lot more to learn about gender.

At Brandeis, courses in the women’s, gender and sexuality studies (WGS) department gave Weiner the chance to understand how people’s other defining characteristics, like race, religion and socioeconomic status, interact with and affect one’s gender.

“My WGS education really exploded my understanding of gender and let me see that my knowledge about what it means to be trans is just one little piece of a broader gender puzzle,” Weiner said.

They found mentors among the WGS faculty, several of whom are trans people themselves.

As someone who aspires to become a researcher and professor, Weiner said seeing trans people in the field of work they’re interested in has been one of the highlights of their experience at Brandeis. 

“It's really nice to see these people as role models, doing exactly what I want to do, with being trans as an active part of their identity that they're bringing into the workplace,” Weiner said. 

“Considering so many workplaces are not particularly friendly to trans people, it's great to see trans people on faculty.”

Weiner chose to major in WGS. This year, they are writing their senior thesis on the social life of androgynous individuals as part of the sociology major and under supervision from professor Sara Shostak.

For research, they conducted eight interviews, asking subjects across the country about how they felt about their gender and how people treated them after noticing their androgyny. 

Since they were a sophomore, Weiner has worked as a community adviser (CA) for the Department of Community Living (DCL). 

A community adviser lives among students and advises them by connecting them to the campus's academic and health resources.

Weiner worked on a floor designated as gender-inclusive housing. They made sure the students' needs were met by creating a welcoming, respectful environment. Weiner encourages trans and non-trans students to have honest, open dialogue.

After conversations with gender-inclusive housing residents and other friends, Weiner realized some students were confused about the process for selecting gender-inclusive housing.

“And then I scheduled a few meetings with DCL,” Weiner said. “I told them about everything that I heard was going wrong.”

The meetings resulted in changes to the housing application wording to clarify what exactly gender-inclusive housing entails.

For Weiner, their identity is about existing outside the traditional categories society uses to define gender and sexuality. 

Weiner plans to continue their trans activism after graduating. They want themself and others to live their lives without simplifying their identity to make other people comfortable.

Categories: Student Life

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