All of my articles in one place.

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Photo by Michael Benz on Unsplash

Meet theoaknotes

Hi reader,

My name is Oakley Phoenix, but I generally go by Oak. There are two other Oakleys at my university, and calling myself Oak is the easiest way to differentiate.

I use they/them pronouns, but I prefer it if you can just call me by my name. Thank you for being here. I’m a nineteen year college student working three on-campus jobs with a major and a double minor. (I agree. That is too much for one person.) I write for theoaknotes in my limited downtime, but it is well worth the late nights and early mornings.

I write…

Allow me to save you a few “searches.”

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Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

In the queer community, there are a lot of words. The acronym (LGBTQ2IADP+) has grown longer, and the collective amount of patience to learn what each letter stands for has grown shorter. If you begin to factor in specifically branched terminology, say, terms that are unique to the transfeminine or asexual communities, the list continues to expand.

Have I mentioned that we don’t agree on what many of the words mean? For example, I am comfortable calling myself queer, but others may (rightfully) find that word offensive based on their own unique definitions.

One day, I received a comment requesting…

That’s too many circumstance modifiers for one human.

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Photo by Jasmin Chew on Unsplash

I want a relationship. This is a deeply, shockingly, surprisingly, ironically, pathetically, comedically bad time for that.

I’ve been single for a year and a month.

My last relationship ended in December 2019, and I’m lucky to be best friends with them now. (Something about being queer exes means that we know each other’s personalities, life stories, deep dark secrets, mental illnesses, and traumas well enough that staying friends after breaking up is simply easier than having to murder the other person.)

I have a decent-sized group of best friends, and I’m in a quarantine pod with three of them…

Your heart is in the right place, but I still have some questions.

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Photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash

You know how we like putting everything into a binary structure? You’re hot or you’re not. You’re white or you’re not. You’re on TikTok or you’re not hip with the kids. You’re a Millenial or you hate Millenials (for some reason).

You get the picture?

Sitting near the top of our lengthy list of binary expectations for society is gender, and kids aren’t excused from this dumbfuckery. After a doctor views a newly born child’s genitals, the doctor hands that child a pink box or a blue box and declares that they must fit inside of it. No matter how…

Well, I didn’t see this coming.

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Photo by Yang Deng on Unsplash

What do I do when my identity has been erased by way of passing as cis?

Let me back up for a moment. You need proper context in order to understand my dilemma.

I’m nonbinary, and I was assigned female at birth. To express myself more authentically to the outside world, I went on T and had top surgery. I now pass as a not-woman. I can pass as a straight cis man if I need to, but that has never been my aim. I aim to be me, in all forms.

If I wanted to throw words at you…

Asking for a friend. (Yes, the friend is me.)

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Photo via Getty Images

We’re all guilty of it. We meet a new person, and we ask what music they listen to. It’s a common icebreaker, a seemingly harmless way to peer into the world of someone else. Our new friend shares — either confidently or bashfully — that they are a fan of BTS, the seven member South Korean pop group: RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook. (Insert other K-pop groups, and the same selection of responses will typically follow, but I will be sticking to BTS for the duration of this article because they’re my area of expertise.)

  1. The Blissfully…

What “disqualifies” me?

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Photo by Savitri wendt on Unsplash

An adult male human.
A hero.
A protector.
A provider.
A hunter.
A fighter.
Makes sacrifices.

Not a woman.
Not womanly.
Not a wuss.
On the “better” side of the binary.
Holding the majority of the binary in place.

Do “guy stuff.”
Watch sports.
Play video games.
Break stuff.
Build stuff.
Blow stuff up.
Go to the gym.
Go fishing.
It doesn’t matter what the “stuff” is
as long as it’s with a guy.

Be a man. Don’t cry. Toughen up. Man up. Grow a pair. Stand up for what you believe…

Should we display our pronouns or not?

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Photo by Dylan Ferreira on Unsplash

This is the type of article that we will look back on in forty years to understand what This Time was like. This piece is a pure product of the world we’re currently living in — deeply entrenched in 2020/2021 society. Think of how The Emoji Movie represents 2017. Or how High School Musical represents 2006. Can you tell I’m a Gen Z based on the references I’m pulling? (The crowd yells yes wildly.)

Today, we are going to tackle my long-held internal debate of whether or not I should list my they/them/theirs pronouns in virtual meeting spaces. …

Conform for free today. Available as long as supplies last!

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Image Credit: them.

Does your gender come naturally to you?
Does it come quickly when called?

Do you wake up and thank your
lucky stars God made you a wo(man)?

Do you lie comfortably
in the bed of gender conformity,
or are there sharp-ass nails sticking up
that you are always careful to avoid?

Does your gender know its place?

Does it stay neatly within
the pink box or the blue box?
Has it duck-taped itself inside
with a burning vengeance?
Does your gender ever poke holes
in the sides of the box,
peering out into the world beyond?

How are you certain…

Because let’s face it: queer words mean different things to different people.

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Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

I was thinking about what I wanted to say to you today. I thought, “Ya know what? I’ve actually got my life fairly together at the moment. I don’t think I’m writing for myself today. What can I say to someone else that they might find value in?”

You see, usually, I write for me. I write to get my feelings on the page after a transphobic incident, to explain a piece of myself to a family member, to outline what are (and aren’t) appropriate questions to ask me about my identities, to share my story with others. …


Hi there. My name’s Oak (they/them). Let’s do something good together. Find me at

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