By Leslie D. Rose
Thomas Hinyard is in transition.
Choosing now to be referred to as Thomas-Venus Hinyard and identifying through the gender-neutral pronouns they, them and their, Hinyard, 24, said they unsubscribe to the gender binary of male and female to identify as trans and gender-queer.
In August Hinyard created a crowd sourcing fundraiser through the website indiegogo.com in hopes of garnering $2500 toward what the headline of the efforts refer to as uprooting to D.C. and executing their transition.
Hinyard’s transition plans include an official name change, a move to the nation’s capital, hormone replacement therapy and electrolysis to permanently remove facial hair.
Identifying as gender-queer is very new to Hinyard and has even caused them to end relationships with once friends who have been unsupportive.
“It’s really been degrading,” Hinyard said. “It’s been toxic. When I have to explain or go in detail about gender-queer, I usually get this weird look from people.”
The toxicity of revealing their identity is something that Hinyard said has caused them to only speak their truth to people deemed worthy. After a spring trip to the Capturing Fire National Queer Spoken Word Summit and Slam held in Washington, D.C., Hinyard said the realization of coming into self had taken over and they no longer wanted to live any part in secrecy.
“It’s just time to take myself seriously,” they said.
While Hinyard admits they had not experienced any personal form of gender identity discrimination in Baton Rouge, they just had such a life altering experience in Washington D.C. that it only feels right to make the formal transition there as they said they are simply not comfortable with executing their transition in Baton Rouge.
“Lately I’ve been reflecting on everything I’ve done [in Baton Rouge] and my entire foundation is here,” they said. “But I’ve just been feeling like it’s time to uproot my life and when I went to Washington D.C., I fell in love and that’s where the real [equality] fight is.”
Hinyard said they hadn’t really thought about how the groundwork for equality being done in D.C. will benefit Baton Rouge, but they admit the Capital City has lots of work to do.
“There’s a lot of injustice,” they said. “When I talk to a lot of my friends, we talk about how unfortunate it is that a lot of young people have to leave Louisiana in order to feel safer or to find places that affirm and celebrate them.”
But even with plans to leave, Hinyard said Baton Rouge will always remain a large part of them.
Hinyard has been an emerging artist on the Baton Rouge poetry scene since being a youth poet through the Broadmoor High School ALL CITY poetry slam team. After taking many adult years away from the microphone, 2012 brought the young poet back to the stage, but only for a year. Hinyard would spend much of 2013 not even writing which is when a lot of self-reflection occurred.
And during the four day Capturing Fire event, a flame was lit inside Hinyard. After writing a series of blogs referencing the experience given them during that week, Hinyard began the process of reclaiming their life.
“When I leave, I will carry with me everything that I learned and experienced [in Baton Rouge],” they said. “I’ll always have a connection here, but something has to happen. There will be a time when I will have to return and will have to do something.”
“I think that what really has to happen is the reflection of the fight for equality,” they continued. “People really need to learn to have a conversation and be able to recognize their privilege and that not everyone has equal accessibility to opportunities around them.”
So far Hinyard’s indiegogo page has received two backers, raising fewer than $50 with just under two months left for funding.
Hinyard intends to make the move to Washington D.C. in February next year.