Episode Overview

A few months ago, Amber met Shelby and the two began talking about what life is like through a non-binary lens. Amber was so moved by her story that she invited Shelby to join her on The Tote + Pears Podcast. Listen in as the two continue their conversation about life through a non-binary lens.
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Topics Covered

Living in a bubble: Born and raised in rural Georgia, Shelby relocated to Chicago in search of more inclusive spaces. Amber and Shelby talk about the value of safe spaces — recognizing that such places feel bittersweet. It has become commonplace for marginalized groups to move and live in cities that do not represent the broader views of their state.

The political climate: Shelby talks about what it was like living in rural Georgia when Donald Trump was elected and how the community’s response was incredibly isolating.

Searching for jobs: Seemingly simple questions like. “What’s your gender?” can be off-putting if you’re non-binary. Now that she’s looking for jobs, Shelby’s having to look closely at the companies and their culture to determine if they’re a fit. She has to consider if adding her pronouns to the job application turn people off. Or how wearing more masculine clothes, the clothes she’s most comfortable in, will affect how others treat her? Will she fit in?

Being authentic: Shelby’s mother pushes for Shelby to focus on trying to fit in while Shelby holds on to authenticity. Amber and Shelby discuss how challenging it is to remain your authentic self when the world isn’t always welcoming of who you are. They go on to discuss the value of being unique.

Safety: Stares. Comments. Aggression. Shelby talks about having to move fluidly in spaces that are not safe.

Intersecting identities: Shelby talks about how her intersecting identities — white, queer, non-binary and college educated — offer her a level of privilege that isn’t offered to everyone in the LGBTQ community, specifically, to people of color and the danger they face when navigating through public spaces.

Leadership matters: Shelby recalls an incident during which a faculty member spouted derogative gender non binary/transphobic remarks in her presence. Shelby’s manager stepped in and handled the situation with care, and recognition for the pain Shelby endured. Experiences of strong leadership in the face of ignorance and injustice have a lasting impact.

What does the future look like for you? Shelby remains optimistic about the future while rooted in reality: marriage, children, and where to live are all topics Shelby discusses with her partner — topics that some of us take for granted.

Shelby Jordan Hearn

A recent graduate of Loyola University Chicago with a Master of Education, Shelby (they/them & she/her pronouns) is an educator, advocate and activist.

Before moving to Chicago, they grew up and went to school just outside Atlanta where they were deeply involved in LGBTQ+ and racial justice activism. While in Chicago, they have worked for 2 years at Northwestern University as a graduate assistant, always with a focus on making higher education more inclusive.

She has most recently worked with the Women's Center as Chair of the Core Working Group on the Genderqueer, Non-binary, Transgender Task Force and as she exits her assistantships, is seeking work where she can continue to advocate for inclusion and equity in higher ed.

Connect with Shelby on LinkedIn.



Produced by: Kai-Saun Anderson

Music by: Podington Bear - Colocate & Rope Swing

Background photo by: Rosan Harmens

About the host

Amber Anderson

Co-Founder + Head of Strategy
Amber Anderson is the co-founder of T+P where she specializes in strategy, marketing and product management.

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