By Bethaney Lee
Their name is Mica and they are not female – they are not male.
Micaela Scofield or “Mica” is a City College student who goes by the ‘they, them’ pronoun and self identifies as a non-binary conforming human being who has lived a life outside of society’s norms.
Assigned female at birth Mica fits most classic stereotypes of feminine beauty at first glance. Mica’s not afraid to show-off their legs in a pleated skirt or accessorize with uniquely delicate pieces which often attribute to the assumption of others that Mica is in fact a woman.
But Mica is not.
In a thick voice they said, “if I could snap my fingers and be a man tomorrow I would do it in a heartbeat.”
In our collective 21st century society most individuals participate in the belief that we live in a binary world of male and female genders but Mica’s life is a grim testament to the counter.
Knowing at a young age but unable to articulate into words what they were feeling, Mica describes the beginning of their rocky adolescence here in San Francisco home to districts like the Castro, a prominent LGBTQ community.
“I am an only child, my mother has bipolar disorder and developed some really bad symptoms of PTSD,” Mica described with a tremble to their bottom lip.
“When I was 2 my parents separated and I went to live with my mom in a domestic violence shelter, because she couldn’t adequately care for me I was back in the custody of my dad by 3,” continuing Mica said “I was raised by my dad, who has his own trauma and had to work all the time and wasn’t really emotionally attentive to my needs at all.”
Lacking support in all areas of life and victim to a world that did not understand their needs, Mica attempted suicide at 8 years old.
“I was a depressed kid. Long hair in my face,” Mica said. “I started to feel really suicidal in elementary school. I tried to hang myself, which is why I work at San Francisco Suicide Prevention now and am really grateful for that.”
Remaining with their father wasn’t “peaches and cream” Mica explained, describing a history of trauma where they became privy to the delicate egos of men.
“I definitely formulated a feminine identity for survival,” Mica’s voice faltered, “I did not have a lot of support growing up and it’s really hard to break out of that.”
Ultimately Mica said the spiritual dissonance and neglect forced them into the sex industry as a child. “It’s that feeling of ‘you live your life as a performance’ and I think that I have integrated that into my identity and my lifestyle. Now I am an artist, an activist, a performer and I do drag.”
Describing a future where the non-binary student could take testosterone and present differently to the outside world Mica optimistically marveled at the notion and said they would be open to it, “but for the time being I have relied on the performance of femininity for so long that it’s hard to break out of that.”
Falling out of one life and into another Mica went to college and paid for it on their own fruition, attending Eugene Lang College at the New School for Liberal Arts in New York and later City College.
“I didn’t move out until 17 for college. Being a good student my whole life was my coping mechanism,” they said. “I saw it as a ticket to my freedom because in this society we are taught that at 18 it means freedom.”
While in New York Mica detailed an event that occurred in the male bathroom, explaining the importance surrounding the topic of access to gender neutral restrooms on campus, which have been reported locked at various times during campus hours.
“He was furious with us,” Mica recalled. After entering with friends into a male assigned restroom Mica was ridiculed for her natural inclination to go inside the male restroom versus the female one- traditionally depicted in the silhouette of a dress.
“This guy verbally attacked us, saying that this is the man’s bathroom and saying that I should be in there, that he knew what I was doing,” Mica the Global Studies major student said. “So now when I go into the men’s restroom and somebody comes in I have to act like I’m not here,” and simply invisible.
After leaving New York and attending City College Mica reported their experience as being largely welcoming however the campus is not without its own faults.
While accompanying Mica to a City College boxing class in the Wellness Center, they were referred to as female three different times by the instructor before she broke the class into groups that were classified as “ladies and gentlemen.”
“I would be exhausted if I tried to correct every single person and in certain contexts it’s necessary- in others I respect this person and understand that they see me in a very narrow context,” Mica said.
Adding that another student in class also identifies out of the traditional binary system that “in those situations you find your allies and giggle because we know.”
Chair of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Studies, Ardel Haefele-Thomas, Ph.D. told Interim Chancellor Susan Lamb and Interim Vice Chancellor Samuel Santos through an email that they have had enough of City College not attending to the need of a preferred name system.
“I have now opened a conversation with Rafael Mandelman because I am ready to go to our board with a proposal,” Haefele-Thomas said, “I am also contacting Transgender Law Center today. Our students cannot continue to wait.”
Both Mica and Haefele-Thomas agree a preferred name system which is the means of changing your birth name on role sheets and WEB4 accounts would go a long way to making the transgender community feel more accepted on campus.
Within Haefele-Thomas’s email a tragic tale of an 18 year old, Latino, Transman student was disclosed. Haefele-Thomas describes the family of the student who “had him institutionalized at the age of 15 where he suffered electro shock therapy and gender ‘de-programming.’ He made it to City College because we have queer and trans studies, etc.”
Adding that: “He has been traumatized clearly, and goes to a class where the professor continues to call him out by his “dead name” i.e. girl name. Now, he has dropped his classes and ready to go somewhere else feeling beat down and suicidal.”
City College students are being violated when called by a name that they do not identify with and Haefele-Thomas said we are actively losing students because of it.
“I battled my whole life with the assumptions about how I am supposed to feel and act,” Mica said. “I want for once to be able to be honest about the way I am and not feel like I’m responsible for validating the delicate egos of masculinity, or that I identify with this sisterhood of ‘dike, dom’ where we are all going to live together, buy cats and have ex’s in common.”
Their name is Mica.
They are not male and they are not female but they are a person who pushes the periphery of City College’s collective knowledge of the gender spectrum to which Mica said “we must unlearn old habits and tradition; we are all complex beings.”