Each Wednesday at Maybeck, the school holds an “all-school meeting” in which students can make and hear announcements. One Wednesday back in March during Sasha’s junior year, Sasha made an announcement to the school. “My name is Sasha and I identify as agender,” Sasha told their classmates. They also told the students that it is “important to respect people’s preferred pronouns and if you’re not sure what those are, you should ask.” Lastly, Sasha told their fellow students that they would be “petitioning the White House to recognize nonbinary gender.”
Sasha’s announcement at school underscores the privilege of cisgender people to be accepted and represented within language. Sasha must go out of their way to ensure that others use their preferred pronouns, and they must petition the White House to acknowledge their existence. Nonbinary people are not represented on legal forms and documents—there is no box to check for those who identify as agender or gender fluid—and Sasha’s announcement emphasizes this fact, which is often taken for granted by the cisgender community.
In order for a petition to get an “official response” from the White House, it must get 100,000 signatures within a thirty-day period. Sasha’s petition got 27,000 signatures, which “wasn’t too shabby,” but ultimately wasn’t enough. Still, Sasha remembers, “that was 27,000 people reading and agreeing with my words—words that I had written.”
Even though the White House does not acknowledge Sasha’s petition, it still serves to validate their gender identity. The 27,000 signatures imply that there are many people who support Sasha’s right to exist and be acknowledged.