Cheesemaking led H. Conley to realize he was a transgender man, the Bon Appetit magazine “content integrity fellow” declared in an essay published Wednesday.
The piece, titled “I Realized I Was Trans While Making Cheese,” was released as part of Bon Appetit’s Pride Month “Food Is Queer” series.
- In it, Conley described how working as a cheesemaker in New York City after college helped him come to terms with his identity as a man.
- “I wanted to be the most knowledgeable, the most capable, the best cheesemaker I could be. Maybe then others would forget about my gender,” he wrote. “When they referred to me as ‘my guy’ or ‘flee’ or ‘bro,’ I felt assimilated.”
- But it was the cheesemaking process itself that eventually led Conley to shuck away his societally ingrained preconceptions about gender.
“Fermentation is hope for trans folks. If people can conceptualize cucumbers becoming pickles, then they can grasp a trans person’s name change,” he wrote. “If the possibility of Camembert, Parmesan, and ricotta exist within milk, then think of all the possible genders to choose from! After all, what is rennet if not the hormone replacement therapy of dairy?”
A recent analysis found transgender self-identification is skyrocketing among young Americans, particularly biological women.