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.”

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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…

Gender is weird. Send tweet.

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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.

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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.

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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…

That’s too many circumstance modifiers for one human.

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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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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.

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.)

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…


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

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