Trigger/Content Warning: Abuse, trauma, rape, cults, racism and oppression
Pronouns: They/Them and We/Our
They were poor and unsure when they would have food on the table next. Obtaining a pair of socks was a cause for celebration.
Tas grew up in a restrictive and abusive Christian-based cult, where they experienced trauma through their childhood and early teenage years. They were raised by a single mother who was “brainwashed and dedicated” to this group.
“We were forced into a female role even though it wasn’t what we wanted. If we looked too masculine leaving the house we had to change,” Tas said. “You had to have your dress a certain length, being gay was considered an abomination and you were taught how to withstand interrogations because of [anticipated] religious persecution.”
They were taught what to do and say during an interrogation and told when religious persecution came they would be raped and beaten.
“We were harassed and bullied by most, our opinions were silenced and there was no choice except to obey the organization,” they said.
Throughout their childhood, Tas sustained physical and emotional traumas being raised in this cult.
“We spent our life afraid and consistently in conflict with those in authority around us. We were raped at the age of 4 by three girls,” they said. “At one point our mother was worried that we might end up being a lesbian because of this, so we were isolated as a teen. Any moment we did not seem straight enough we were isolated and had biblical teaching pounded into our head.”
As a person of color too, they were never able to express our ethnicity in this setting. They experienced racism and were forced to present as female and pass as white as much as possible.
“We have been physically threatened because we were a person of color, and adding on being queer was something that would have made us more of a target,” they said. “Our mother was harsh and imposed femininity upon us as much as possible.”
One time in particular they asked someone to borrow their tie, wanting to wear it with the outfit to try and look masc and fem at the same time. They were ridiculed for wearing it, told to take it off and the person that allowed Tas to borrow the tie was punished for giving it to them.
Tas always felt attraction to all genders, and kept those feelings to themselves. They never agreed with the biblical teaching that being gay was wrong, either.
“We never understood how a god that ‘loves all’ would hate anyone; we never agreed with shunning people because they were LGBTQ,” they explained.
One moment Tas recognized their attraction to other genders was when they were attending college at 15 years old. One other woman in their class was 21 and took interest in them.
“Now, this was 100% inappropriate and looking back this person was not safe, but we were drawn to her and it make us think about [if we were gay].”
In their 20s, Tas met a woman they wanted to date but didn’t pursue a relationship as she was straight, and this experience led them to reflect on their upbringing and previous traumas.
“It was a million different moments combined that helped us accept ourselves,” they said. “We were not bisexual or lesbian. We were queer because we have an equal attraction to people no matter their gender identity. Even at an early age we knew we were not straight but the world was always oppressing our true selves.”
Since these experiences, Tas has sworn off Christianity and found safety and acceptance in Paganism.
“The trauma that the Christain teachings caused in our life means we have nothing to do with that ‘god,’” they said.
At a point in their life they were diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which stemmed from their sustained trauma growing up.
“We live as multiples, and our system name is The Alias System — Tas. That’s how we chose it; it’s gender-neutral and reflects our nonbinary identity while including everyone in our system.”
At 27 years old, Tas came out for the first time to their partner. They described the moment as nerve-wracking, not knowing how this interaction would turn out. But all their fears diminished when their partner said, “I know.”
“It was funny to learn that he knew from the moment he met us that we weren’t straight,” Tas said. “It’s amazing to think how when you are close with someone they notice things. He accepted us before we even had the guts to tell him. Being in a queer relationship is something we were worried about for our partner, but he is 100% accepting which is absolutely amazing.”’
However, once they came out to their mother they knew they would be disowned. Though they didn’t see this as a negative because she was the source of several traumatic moments growing up.
Most of their LGBTQ friends welcomed them with open arms, while few in the community disagreed with their gender identity and no longer spoke with them.
“We had two very close people just vanish after we publicly discussed being nonbinary and queer,” they explained.
Presenting as more masculine in public settings has led to taunting and verbal abuse by strangers, they continued, noting the chaos and slews of disagreement and hate they’ve also received online.
“We are misgendered constantly which is triggering, but unavoidable with how the world is today,” Tas said. “Just wearing anything for pride month was dangerous in our community and our partner and ourselves decided not to go out in our pride shirts because it was too dangerous.”
However, Tas said that for those who don’t or can’t come out, “the biggest thing is to follow your bliss and live your truth.
“In the end, the only person that needs to accept you, is you. Find yourself and validate yourself and love yourself.”
For more information, visit Tas’s Linktree here.