All of my articles in one place.

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Meet theoaknotes

Hi reader,

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

Thank you for being here. I’m a nineteen year old college student working three on-campus jobs while majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies and minoring in English and Sociology. (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 because I have stories that haven’t been told before…

Allow me to save you a few “searches.”

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…

Welcome to Pronoun PEMDAS

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Do you remember learning the order of operations for evaluating a math expression in grade school? It was taught as PEMDAS (parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction) or “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.”

I loved PEMDAS. That process, along with learning my times tables, was the height of my short-lived math career. I appreciated the simplicity and conciseness of the acronym and the fool-proofed feeling of it.

I want to propose a similar concept for people who use multiple pronouns — not for them; they know what they’re doing. But for those of us who don’t use multiple…

Story time — and a few wise words from your local they/them.

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Funny story: my gender’s taken on a strange form these days. It’s become a mirrorgender of sorts — the kind where the people who see me pick my gender for me, and they don’t always agree. It’s funny, and I rarely correct people when this happens because I’m too busy enjoying myself to mind the misgenderings much.

In the past two months, three instances of my gender becoming a mirror for others to use as they see fit stand out. Welcome to story time.

1. The Photoshoot

As many of you may already know, I work for the admissions office at my university…

As told by a nonbinary kid.

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As a young nonbinary adult who’s been out of the closet for more than a year, I’m comfortable with who I am, and my mom is as well. I came out slowly over time, first mentioning that I was considering changing my name and then suggesting that I was starting to use they/them pronouns alongside she/hers at school.

When I finally officially came out to my mom over the 2019–20 winter break, she had questions, but she didn’t boot me out of the house — which is a low bar, I’ll admit. She wanted to understand what being nonbinary was…

*Tosses my binder out the window.*

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I had top surgery (FTN) six months ago. Six months. October 8th, 2020. And I’m loving it. (Cue the McDonald’s theme song.)

Whether you’re pre-op and looking to hear about top surgery benefits from another trans person, newly post-op and looking for a light at the end of the tunnel as you spend time in the post-op compression binder and emptying out your drains, several years post-op and looking to reminisce, or an ally looking to learn more about why transmasculine individuals undergo this procedure, you’ve come to the right place.

Without further ado…

40 Perks of Being Post-Op Top Surgery:

  1. Not needing to wear a binder…

Gender is weird. Send tweet.

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

COVID has made everything weird, gender included. Whether you’ve spent months questioning your gender in the isolation of your quarantine space, had gender-affirming surgery or gone on hormones, begun the process of a name change, joined a virtual genderqueer support group, or altered your understanding of your gender in any significant way in the last twelve months, it has been an odd time.

When I’m only 19.

Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

A trans elder: a person who has identified as trans, gender non-conforming, and/or nonbinary for a considerable length of time and seems to know what they’re doing.

This is a definition I’m scraping together for the purposes of this article. Google didn’t give me an official definition when I asked, so you’re stuck with this.

A trans elder is a relative term. When I hear it, I think of Kate Bornstein. They’re in their seventies, so labeling them an “elder” doesn’t feel disrespectful. I would feel wrong claiming Laverne Cox (48), Elliot Page (34), Janet Mock (38), MJ Rodriguez (30)…

My cursed blog, Tinder, and finding T4T.

Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

My blog, theoaknotes, is cursed. I know this for a fact. A strange thing has happened twice now — which means that the first time wasn’t simply a fluke.

On September 18th, 2020, I published a piece titled “A Letter to My Future Post-Top Surgery Self.” It was…dramatic and sad. I wrote it when I was experiencing a rough bout of dysphoria around being pre-op. I was binding all day, reaching a few months on T and dealing with T-acne at full force, adjusting to college life while in a pandemic, and generally not having a great time in life.

A brief musing on what it means to feel valid.

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Hi. I’ve stopped typing to wave at you — from my computer screen to yours. Are you waving back? You are, aren’t you? That is quite kind of you. You’re smiling now, too? I’m glad to see it.

You know, sometimes I worry about us genderqueers — dealing with the weight of a gender crisis on top of the many other crises this world has to offer. I know that we aren’t alone in our gender struggles, but I also know that many of us doubt the legitimacy of those same struggles.

Sometimes we look in the mirror and think…


Picture a Gen Z kid explaining gender to you over a coffee date. Hi, I’m Oak. It’s nice to meet you. Find me at Words: Psychology Today.

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