A Year Without A Name is Cyrus Grace Dunham’s debut memoir. This interview was conducted as part of the interview series, LGBTQ&A , a weekly podcast that documents modern queer and trans history.
Cyrus Grace Dunham has written a complicated, necessary addition to the trans literary canon.
A Year Without A Name , Dunham’s debut book, recontextualizes gender dysphoria as something that is not solely exclusive to binary trans people. Readers get to know Cryus as Dunham gets to know Cyrus, and the memoir makes clear that one’s journey to figuring out their gender is a messy, life-long process.
Dunham opens up on this week’s episode of LGBTQ&A podcast, about how his experience of gender is still evolving, how it’s affected by privilege and whiteness, and why using he/him pronouns feels”scary and erotic.”
[Click here to listen to the full podcast with Cyrus Grace Dunham.]
Jeffrey Masters: I was really moved by the visceral response you had in the book to choosing the name “Cyrus.” I wasn’t expecting that. Cyrus Grace Dunham: I wasn’t either — at all. When I started writing this book, all I knew was that I wanted to document a period of a lot of change, but I didn’t know I was going to change my name. I didn’t know I was going to get surgery. I was certain that I wouldn’t go on hormones. I would say to myself all the time, I’m never going to be someone who goes on hormones.
JM: And yet you did all those things. CGD: All of them. And I might not be done, you know? Starting hormones and sort of masculinizing my appearance has lessened my dysphoria in a lot of ways.
But a lot of my experience of dysphoria is something that extends beyond gender, and it has a lot to do with just trying to find an experience and a sense of identity that is grounded and resonant within a world where there’s so many expectations for how we’re supposed to be.
JM: We’ve moved the trans discourse away from the body and body parts, but a part of me wonders if the way to best connect with non-trans people is to bring it back to the body. It’s something everyone can relate to. CGD: And we hold so much information and feeling and nonverbal intuition in our bodies. I mean this sounds very woo-woo. But a huge part of my process of transitioning has just been about grounding: getting back into my body, feeling my heels, feeling my legs, feeling that I am this brief experience of cells that’s going to be here for a little and then go away, and just feeling myself on earth because I think dysphoria makes it really hard to stay in the body.
JM: I appreciated how clear it was that your experience of gender was affected by who you were dating. CGD: It was so important for me when I first learned this concept […]