Patience Newbury

Do avatars dream of biographies or avatographies? Do avatars actually dream? Why are these even questions?

You: “Hey, you know you sorta look like that other woman on this website.” /// Patience: “You don’t say...” /// You: “You’re not fooling anyone.” /// Patience: “Of course not. I never promised I was anything greater than an avatar.” /// You: “Deceiver.” /// Patience: “areyouserious.gif”

45g of witty ripostes. This stuff is like beluga caviar, but far more humane and apparently far less tasty. No reason to hazard a guess on its nutritional facts: there are none.

This ought to start with the pithy “once upon a time”, but that means having to promise the other half. So why not start with “Back when she was at Beyoncé’s high school before Beyoncé got there*…”?

Patience Newbury signifies a few things.

Obviously, Patience is a can with a preposterous shelf life. Patience is also a nom de plume for talking about trans equity. Maybe an advocate. And, definitely, a social hub, amongst #folkslikeus and #girlslikeus, for a really, long, time (because Walken comma).

Her writings go back to 1998. She launched the collaborative Cisnormativity Project in 2011. Between 1998 and 2001, the woman behind the avatar was plaintiff and made case law in the first-ever civil justice case of its kind anywhere; several other legal cases, some actually realizing the justice she never knew, have surfaced during the years since. In 1996, she was cast in the first production of Kate Bornstein’s “Hidden: a Gender” not involving the playwright. At age 13, her parents institutionalized her less than a week after discovering she was trans (a really shitty, brutal thing for any parent to do). She ran away at 16 and voiced as trans two years later.

In January 2012, Patience created designs (inspired by the Shit White People Say meme) called Shit Stuff Cis People Say, giving accidental birth to dead-naming (a verb) and dead name (a noun). Around the same time, she posted “Maybe you should never transition”, challenging how people grapple with why trans people transition when we do and how resistance from cis people may vary with each stage of life (as they’ve obstructed us from having agency over our lives and bodies), but said resistance from cis people holds constant throughout our lives and manifests itself differently based on the age we voice ourselves.

She wrote under the pen name Ententa’s Magic to unpack the particular social barriers of being a woman who is trans, in a city influenced for decades by the now-defanged Gender Identity Clinic at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She recognized how one need not be a product of the clinic to know its grip over the social health of an institutionally regulated community of people.

Patience is a survivor of complex post-traumatic stress disorder and has lived with major depression since diagnosis at age 10. She writes things, but probably not nearly enough these days. You can find her on Twitter and other places.

Published credits
  • 2017. “The quilt” (short fiction). Sister Writes, Winter 2017.
  • 2002. Op-ed, “Discriminated against for being gender-different”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

* True, though on a technicality: her second high school was literally across a soccer field from Beyoncé’s second high school, but Patience’s driver’s ed class was taught there. Being there before Bey didn’t make being there cool (both schools were total shit holes), so it doesn’t make Patience a Bey-hipster (or, uh, Beyster?).


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