US: How Marie Kondo Helped Me Sort Out My Gender

Sandy Allen. Nonbinary trans writer living in the Catskills. (they/them) Wrote a  about my Uncle Bob #AKOMP 

After the New Year a few years ago, I bought myself a copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It wasn’t a book I actually felt I needed; if anything, I’m almost annoyingly tidy already, a veritable Roomba of a human. I’d moved fifteen times in the decade since I’d turned 18, each time trying to shed whatever I no longer wore.

I bought Kondo’s book mostly as a ploy to get my boyfriend, Rob, to clean out his nightstand. Our courtship had been a steady reclamation of his less-tidy space by my relentless wave of tidiness. (Whatever’s going on in Marie Kondo’s brain that makes her say “I love mess!”, I have it, too.) His nightstand, though, was The Place He Put Things. A place I ached to clean.

The book arrived, and after weeks spent suggesting he read it, I finally decided to live by example. I did as Marie Kondo prescribed: I emptied my closet and bureau into a pile on the living room floor, separated their contents into a peak of jackets and a peak of dresses. One by one, I picked items up and asked myself whether they sparked joy. If they didn’t, into the discard pile they went.

I didn’t take me long to see it, what the discard pile was. It was only the skirts, only the dresses, only the flowers and lace and sparkles. It was everything I’d bought hoping that some colleague might say: Isn’t that cute?

I burst into tears, shame filling me entirely, and then I laughed about the fact that this book had made me cry, this silly, stupid cleaning book.


For months — well, years — I’d carried around a stack of telling moments in my mind, ones I’d shuffle periodically, ones I knew told me something but something I didn’t want to acknowledge to myself, let alone admit. For example, there was this one moment back before I’d quit my job. I had worked at a start-up media company. It was the sort of office that looks fun and has fun snacks and there’s pressure to dress up on fun holidays like Halloween. One Halloween, I’d come as Ace Ventura. Read more via them.