Robin Lo Annsdotter Holmlid laughs when I ask if he wants to tell his story about being transgender and changing pronoun. “Really I’m a pretty lazy transgender person,” he says as he smiles softly through the computer screen in front of me attempting to tell me how it all started.
“I didn’t have anyone to talk to about my feelings at the time and I had so much on my plate. I figured I would think about it another day and then I pushed it aside.”
The simple truth is that gender is something that has never been very clear to Robin. As a child, he couldn’t understand why school classes had to separate into specific changing rooms for girls and boys. When many other Swedish children grew up in households with very clear stereotypical gender roles he happily describes his childhood, as unknowingly. His parents only told him later that there might have been moments of foreshadowing.
“Many people can point back to memories of these types of thoughts as toddlers because that’s when most children start to become aware of gender. When I was that age I drew a picture in kindergarten that I described as ‘This is a picture of Kerstin (Robin’s former name) when she has a penis’,” he says.
Coming out as a transgender male is an experience that differs a lot depending on whom he talks with. When thinking about it, Robin can’t even remember how he told his closest friends in school, but when he told the rest of his class everything was planned in detail. All from what he was saying to what he was wearing was thought about in advance, because of one simple reason: He wanted to be able to be himself in the future without being misunderstood.
“I wore a skirt that day because I knew that if I dressed stereotypically manly some people might get confused if I came with a skirt another day. Maybe they would think that I had changed my mind about identifying as a male as if a clothing item could change me. In some kind of way, I wanted to show that I could be me and change my pronoun while not having to fit into the view of a stereotypical male. ”
Most of his family members were also very understanding when Robin decided to officially leave the name Kerstin and the pronoun ‘she’ behind, but the transition was far from easy. Several times he says that he doesn’t think that it’s up to every individual who identifies as transgender to educate people, but that he doesn’t mind answering questions.
“We need activists that are open for people to pose questions, but everyone has to decide themselves if they want to be that person and when. That’s a very important distinction.”
He remembers how his grandfather had a hard time grasping the concept of transgender and struggled with the change of name. For one year he didn’t call Robin by name, and it wasn’t until he watched a documentary on transgender that he realized more people felt the way his grandchild did.
“Until then he thought that I was the only one in the world feeling like this. Of course, he was scared and felt worried for me.”
Today Robin describes himself as agender and he is more comfortable with being called he, them or they. He says that pronouns aren’t very important to him, but that it is very much an individual battle to every transgender individual.
“Pronouns are very important for some people and many also feel a strong sense of gender dysphoria. If you can’t feel it you can’t relate.”
Already a year after changing name and pronoun to he, Robin started to realise that he might rather want the pronoun them, they. However, he couldn’t be bothered to take the discussion since it is a lengthy process and he feels comfortable as it is. He smiles and laughs when he tells me something that has been repeated a few times during our conversation.
“As I said, I’m a pretty lazy transgender person. I felt that it would be a lot of work to change to them, they, and I figured I might do it later. So far I’m still procrastinating it.”