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It's not really leaving if you have somewhere better to be

2022 is proving to be a year of many profound changes. There are two big transitions going in my life: one professional, and one personal.

Starting with the simpler of the two - I will be leaving my role at Stanford University Libraries on August 19 and will be starting a position at a startup. You will be hearing more about this in the coming weeks, so apologies if you are left hanging. Suffice to say, I am really excited to work with what seems to be a great team on a super cool product. I am grateful for all of the opportunities I have had over the last six years at Stanford to collaborate with amazing folks within and beyond the institution. My experience has prepared me for a new direction in my career, and I will miss working with such an excellent crew.

Secondly, my name is María, and my pronouns are she/her. I am the same colleague, comrade, and fellow artist that you have known me to be for many years. After a long period of my life not knowing how or not wanting to, I am lucky in that I have come to accept myself as a proud transgender woman. My friends, family, and colleagues have been wonderfully supportive, and I hope you will support me just the same. In my case, transition was something I had to do to be myself, and the best version of myself, to survive.

For those of you who know me through my professional or creative lives, you may not know how to refer to me because of a legacy of my past publications, presentations, musical releases, or what have you. If there is any uncertainty about how to refer to me in the context of citation for something on which my former name appears, please use either my current name, María A. Matienzo, or the version with my initials (M.A. Matienzo). Going through all past references, publications, etc. is certainly not necessary and the administrative labor of doing that for myself is exhausting enough to contemplate.

While I am coming out as trans publicly, please remember that I have a principled stance on incorporating information about gender in structured data: I do not want it there unless I add it, or unless I am asked whether it can or should be added. For instance, I strongly believe that Wikidata’s P21 (sex or gender) property is a property that may violate the privacy of living people. One of my deepest frustrations about this in Wikidata is the prevalence of people and bots that add P21 statements by making strong assumptions based on a person’s given name. I have written and presented a lot about knowledge organization, autonomy, and liberation, and sticking by this stance feels right.

Lastly, I have gotten a lot of questions from friends and colleagues asking me how I feel about “leaving” - whether a past life or identity, the LAM sector, or any number of other things or states of existence. This is not a quit-lit post - while the LAM sector has its structural and cultural problems, this is a big step forward. I cannot say if I will be back, but at this point, I am comfortable not knowing. I am far more certain about my gender identity by comparison, but I also realize that perspectives about one’s identity can shift in time – mine certainly did. I never have had all the answers, but I have gotten a lot out of the journey in figuring this out.