Meet Lennie Naughton, a sophomore in the College of Fine Arts studying Theater Arts. I have the honor of living with Lennie in Danielsen this year (a picture of us is below). Everyday I learn something new from them, including the fact that they knew all the words to Rocky Horror Picture Show when they were eleven. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if you are confused as to why I use plural pronouns to refer to a singular person. I use gender-neutral pronouns to refer to Lennie because they identify as genderqueer.
To clarify, Lennie does not identify as a woman nor a man. They explain, “As far as my larger beliefs, I don’t believe in the gender binary because it’s a harmful social construct that eliminates the possibility and experience of gender non-conforming and trans* individuals.” The gender binary is what our society conceptualizes as the two-and-only-two system of men and women. This system is harmful in that gender-conforming individuals reap the benefits because people can tell that they: fit the criteria of man/woman, use the “right” bathroom, and his/her sex on their ID matches his/her gender. Gender non-conforming folk are thus left with little privilege and, sometimes, understanding.
The Greater Chicagoland area native adds that their gender identity is “just who I am.” Other things that are part of Lennie’s identity include on-campus involvement, such as: serving on the board for Gender Neutral BU, volunteering in the Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Activism, and dedicating hours to CFA School of Theater productions. In their free time (when there is any), Lennie makes DIY pins out of bottle caps, serenades me with a killer mouth trumpet and they can juggle devil sticks. Bottom line: Lennie has many talents.
However, if you ever run into Lennie, don’t ask for an autograph. Just strike up a conversation about their theatrical endeavors, the next punk show they want to see, or ask them how they make bottle cap pins look so awesome. You won’t be disappointed!