Half of all millennials believe gender shouldn’t be limited to the categories of male and female, according to Fusion’s massive millennial poll. Raised as a girl, and now identifying as agender, Tyler Ford is a 25-year-old writer, speaker and campaigner for transgender awareness.
‘I grew up confused about my gender. No one around me ever talked about gender in a way that I related to. There was never any room for ambiguity, just, ‘You’re either a man or a woman.’ I never had the words to describe myself or how I felt.
My mum loved me for me, and let me wear what I wanted, but you can only experiment so much when you lack a fundamental understanding of who you are. At secondary school, I started wearing skirts and make-up to look hot for the boys, because that’s what seemed to matter, but I soon became depressed and began hiding my body.
I was trying to figure out my identity and sexuality, but I didn’t even know that my gender could be questioned. Then at college, people started to misgender me. Dinner ladies would say, ‘What would you like, sir?’ and I would think: ‘Wait, what?’ It would happen so often that I began to think: ‘What are these people seeing that I’m not?’
Eventually, I saw a video of a trans man online and thought, ‘This could be me’. I was 20 and it was the first time I’d ever heard the term ‘transgender’. I started taking hormones and lived as a trans man for two years, but even this felt wrong. I knew I wasn’t really a man.
So I decided to experiment on my own to find who I was, and that required a lot of introspection. I finally realised that if I didn’t find the answers then that’s OK, but I need to do what feels right for me at any given time. I settled upon the term ‘agender’ and here I am, two years later, a beautiful and out agender person.
Every moment of my life, I’m coming out as agender. Every time I meet someone, I have to ask them to use the pronoun ‘they’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’. It’s very important to me that I support myself emotionally. Being confident, loving myself and being comfortable with who I am definitely helps in the face of adversity.
I live my life by what feels right for me and I’ll always be true to myself, even when it’s hard. That carries me through everything I do; speaking in schools and educating people.
Lacking a role model was a big factor in why I felt so confused growing up, so I want to be the representation for others that I never had.’
Photo of Tyler Ford by Jones Crow
Interview: Ellen Tout