I’ve always known that I’m not like other young females.

Coyote, a performer at the WORD Writers and Readers Festival in Christchurch, speaks from personal experience when she visits classrooms to discuss bullying and gender identification.

Coyote prefers to be referred to as Ivan or they and does not identify as either male or female. They outright reject the gender concept that causes us to walk through life in blue and pink patterns.


Coyote says over the phone from Vancouver in the distinct toasted-almond voice that has charmed countless YouTubers, “I always knew I was not the same as other small girls. “I didn’t want to play the same games, I didn’t want to be interested in the same things, and I didn’t want to dress in the same way. That dates back as far as I can recall. Without experiencing the push to fit in with something I felt was not my true self, I cannot remember who I was.”

They have caused Coyote a disproportionate amount of trouble for such a short word. Although Coyote has produced 11 books, three spoken word albums, and four short films, the topic of gender is the one that garners the most attention.

Which pronoun do you favor using?

What pronoun do you prefer? It is a standard question, according to Coyote. “Although I use a pronoun, it is not the one I like. I’d rather sit by the window and I prefer chicken to duck. But if I’m starving, I can eat duck, and if I have to, I can take the middle or aisle seat; I just refer to them as they. You get to make the decision, not me. You have a choice as to whether or not you respect me. That pronoun is the one that best describes me.”

It’s not just journalists who press the issue because they want to gain insight into a topic that has surged in popularity in the last five years. Ivan encounters people while doing his regular business at stores, restaurants, and pubs. Many of them might not feel comfortable discussing the nuanced subject of gender identity with someone they have just met, but they may object to the pronoun because they find it awkward.