AC Dumlao - Artist, Educator, and Advocate

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AC Dumlao works tirelessly to advocate for the underrepresented and to educate people on what it means to be non-binary. AC is active both in and outside of the office - the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) where they work. AC regularly speaks at events about gender fluidity and has even had writing published in various publications, including the Huffington Post. Quite frankly, we’ve learned so much from AC and felt the need to share their story. Read more about AC below.

What do you do?

I’m an artist, advocate, and educator based in New York City with a focus on on centering and uplifting underrepresented and multiple marginalized people and their communities. I’m known for a social justice Facebook blog "Call Me They" and my gender-full fashion Instagram @menswearselfcare!

Why is it important to educate people about gender fluidity and non-binary individuals? What do you want people to know?

Very simply, I’d like people to know there are more than two genders and non-binary individuals exist and are valid. I like to describe gender fluidity or the gender spectrum in a step beyond, actually: as multi-dimensional galaxies that are filled with the intricacies of ourselves from gender expression to our hopes and dreams. It’s important to educate folks about non-binary identity because we unfortunately live in a world where there is still hate and discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people, specifically transgender and non-binary people. It is the role of allies to help us all move toward a more just world that is safe for trans and non-binary people.

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What is the misconception people often have of the non-binary community that you want to clear up? How can people better support the community?

Some people will say that the concept of “non-binary” is “new.” While non-binary visibility has increased in recent years, particularly in Western media, the idea of genders beyond the male/female binary is not new. And it’s more important than ever, particularly in the year 2019, the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, that allies educate themselves about LGBTQIA+ issues, particularly those of non-binary folks.

Are there other issues you hope to address with your platform and why?

I’m also passionate about speaking up about mental health; “Self-care” is part of my Instagram handle after wall. I want to help end the stigma against depression and anxiety, and particularly using medication. I also hope to provide visibility as a trans non-binary person of color that deals with mental illness, when the majority of images the media gives us are white and cis. To be a person with marginalized identities in a world that is hostile towards the Other is emotionally and psychologically daunting. I want people to know they’re not alone.

Do you think fashion plays a role in conversations around intersectionality?

Absolutely. The elite fashion world as it is known centers cis, skinny, tall, white individuals. By creating my Instagram, I wanted to explore the idea that “dressing up” - in whatever way that means on a given day, in this trans, “average,” petite, brown body was a legitimate act of self-care.

What do you want to see more of in 2019?

I want to hear stories from people whose stories are underrepresented. I want to see fashion that is not only genderless, but full and bursting with gender. I want to learn what brings others unadulterated joy in a world that tries to bring us all down. I want more for all of us: more than just surviving, but being out there and thriving.

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Congrats on your engagement! How did you and Caitlin meet? How is the wedding planning going?

Thank you! Caitlin and I actually met on Tinder of all places. We lived 10 blocks away from each other in Harlem, went on our first perfect date, and we’ve been inseparable ever sense. We’re both busy folks, but we’re excitedly putting the pieces together for a small ceremony and party in the next year. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have her to ground me and support me. She’s the reason I’m the person you see before you today.

To learn more about AC, visit www.callmethey.com.