De-Mystifying Non-Binary with Joshua M. Ferguson

By Rachel Rosenberg

Joshua M. Ferguson has the sort of career most of us can only yearn for. They are a filmmaker, author and trans right activist with a brand-new book published earlier this month. Me, Myself, They: Life Beyond The Binary is an inspiring and engaging read; a memoir and a manifesto to the importance of gender fluidity, it aims to demystify and celebrate what being non-binary looks like.

Ferguson brings readers on a deep dive into their lifelong desire for gender freedom, and maintains a determined, Amazonian tone as they detail instances of trauma, assault and depression. The book also celebrates many of their accomplishments, including recounting the story of how on May 7th, 2018, Ferguson made history by successfully becoming the first person to receive a non-binary birth certificate with an “X” in the province of Ontario.

I read Me, Myself, They: Life Beyond the Binary, and it really explained the experience of being non-binary in a way that I found clear and accessible. For those who haven’t read the book yet can you give me an overview?

Me, Myself, They is a non-fiction work, a memoir; others have called it a meditation (which I love), about my life, one life and one person. Although, readers can access what life is like for one non-binary trans person through my story in the book, my story doesn’t speak for all non-binary people, all trans people or all gender non-conforming people. Our stories are varied, infinite and mine is told from the privilege of being a white able-bodied trans person.

The book isn’t structured chronologically. Instead, each chapter presents a layer of my identity to branch out for the reader. I wanted to write my story in a way that would humanize to become a vessel for empathy. I realized while writing, and in transforming my trauma into strength, creativity and empathy, that we are more alike than we are different from one another. So, widening possibilities for readers to connect and relate to, with various parts of my identity – myself – and my story, will hopefully create understanding and connection.

As an award-winning filmmaker, author, and advocate your schedule must be very hectic. What are you working on next?

I often find myself as the artist-octopus of sorts when it comes to my work: making films, writing books, working on scripts, exploring performing in front of the camera. I think it’s productive to have many different artistic objectives, not necessarily a stretching oneself too thin but knowing that I’m an artist who doesn’t want to be limited to one pathway of expression.  I have a very busy schedule, but I take time for self-care and rest. Vancouver is the best place for that since I can take a short drive and I’m in a beautiful park with ocean and mountains.

In terms of what’s next for me, I am actually in the early stages of writing a second book, a young-adult fantasy fiction. My partner, Florian Halbedl, and I have a production company (Turbid Lake Pictures) and we have our final short film at festivals this year with a feature-film in development. I’m also trying my hand at auditioning for select roles in the city for Film and TV to explore another side of my creative expression.

How do you keep from getting bogged down and maintain being so productive?

I keep from getting bogged down by prioritizing self-care and enjoying the spaces we inhabit, taking a moment away to breathe. I tend to make lists to stay on track with my many artistic projects. I also surround myself with very talented creative people. I was told from a young age: “you are who you surround yourself with,” so my close friends, confidants and creative collaborators energize and support my artistic production and focus.

Do you feel like Vancouver is accepting of non-binary people?

I feel like this question is difficult to answer with a yes or no, to give a resolute answer so I’ll pose some specific questions. Do I feel comfortable as a non-binary person in Vancouver? Not always, it depends on the day and where I am to be honest. Do I always feel safe? Sometimes. Is Vancouver accepting of non-binary people and people in the LGBTQ community? I can’t answer this question for the entire community. I’m a white able-bodied trans person, so my experience with acceptance, and safety, is very different in Vancouver than it is for a black trans woman or a two-spirit indigenous person, for example, who face much more marginalization and possible violence. It’s quite specific to experience, but in speaking about my own, I do feel more accepted and safe in Vancouver than in many other places in our country.

As a Vancouverite, what are some of your favourite spaces in the city?

I love Queen Elizabeth Park, Whytecliff, and Spanish Banks. I have a special tea place that I frequent to write. I also enjoy spending time at UBC, I did my Ph.D. there and it still holds wonderful memories!

You can pick up Me, Myself, They: Life Beyond The Binary at local bookstores.

 

 

Rachel Rosenberg is a writer and library technician who is a proud member of the LGBTQ2+ community. She writes for Book Riot and can be found on Twitter @LibraryRachelR

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