What I mean when I say that it’s the truth is that identifying as non-binary is the best way I can explain how I personally feel about gender. I have never felt attached to my assigned gender in any way whatsoever. I have never felt male either though.
As a kid, I always knew I was that weird one. The signs were early on: I hated any clothes that were frilly or form-fitting. As a kid, I was always called a tomboy, I never felt like “tomboy” was an appropriate label for myself, as it was generally used to describe girls who were into sports. I wanted to look cool, not pretty. I didn’t want to look or act feminine.
In childhood, I was far from a tomboy. I didn’t play with boys, I avoided rough-and-tumble games, I hated sports. I enjoyed music, and reading. But I wasn’t a typical girl either, and this became more apparent in my teenage years. I was interested in fashion but not in the way the other girls were. I was lucky (and I am thankful) that my Family – for the most part – never tried to shoehorn me into a particular gender norm.
Faced with a constant barrage of information about how I was supposed to act, think, and feel based on my body, I grew up being taught that something about me was fundamentally wrong. Mussing up my hair and wearing oversized t-shirts to look unruly and boyish was wrong.
I tried to “be myself” and pretend not to care, hiding my internal scars caused by other people’s hurtful words and judgemental stares.
Even though I liked some of the things classified as girly, I still felt like I was lying to myself. I felt bad for pretending to be someone I was not, and I felt bad that I couldn’t be what everyone said I was supposed to be. I didn’t want to entirely “become a boy” either, though, if I really thought about it. I felt like there was no one who I could talk to about my struggle with gender identity.
I’ve finally realised that if you’re going to be “wrong” according to the world no matter what you do… you might as well be the person you want to be, and surround yourself with people who support, care about, celebrate and encourage you to be your true self.
I don’t like using they/them pronouns because it feels so foreign to me. It’s really no shade to those who have found a home in they/them, but I still prefer to use the she/her Pronouns. I don’t want to change my pronouns – she/her will do just fine for me, although I have no problem with others choosing their pronouns. Although, you can call me they/them…it does not matter that much to me but it really does to some non binary people.
The past few years have been full of cautious exploration and growing more confident with my identity as non binary. I feel more free to experiment with gender expression in ways I would have never tried before. Even though I know that gender expression doesn’t define your gender identity, and that other people do not get to dictate your gender, it’s terrifying to imagine being rejected by the queer community when you’ve been rejected from everyone else your entire life.
It has been far from easy, but I have accepted my sexuality and my gender identity. The voices of LGBTQ+ people need to be heard loud and clear. I want queer and trans people who are suffering or have suffered to know that they are not alone, their identities are valid, their struggles are legitimate. It is so very important that our voices are heard, our stories are told, and action is taken.
I shouldn’t have to feel stressed about my gender identity anymore, but I still do. Gender is more than appearance, or interests, or body parts… and it might also fluctuate and change over time.
This is, truthfully, how I feel. And I want to share that truth with you. Despite knowing who I am, I haven’t really formalised or articulated my thoughts about my own gender identity until recently.
Gender is confusing.
Like many, possibly most, I have a complicated relationship with my body. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I felt there was something deeply wrong with my body. I didn’t just want to be smaller. I wanted to rid myself of my femaleness, the parts of me that made people look at me and see a woman. For a very long time I convinced myself that my hatred of my body were simply body image issues, not at all tied to gender.
It’s only been within the past year that I’ve realised that my Disordered eating habits has always been closely tied to my non binary gender identity. I began to feel uncomfortable with my body when I was 10 years old, and I expressed my discomfort by attempting to control my weight during the most formative years of my adolescence.
Non binary gender identities are more common than one might think, but because we live in a society which highly values and relies on the male/female gender binary, non binary identities are invalidated, mocked, and not taken seriously — if they are acknowledged at all.
To be nonbinary in a binary society is to feel less than human. When you are told—constantly, every day, through media, clothing, and pronouns—that there are two genders, male and female, and that the members of these groups are very different from each other and can be distinguished from one another by their body parts, it is impossible not to internalise it.
I can now see that there was more to it than that, that being seen as a woman and hating my body, wishing for a flat-chested, straight-hipped body — that was gender dysphoria. Starving myself was supposed to bring me closer to that teenage boy body I envisioned and make people stop viewing me as a woman.
When you don’t feel comfortable in the body in which you were born, and you have no support from society or your peers to express your true inner self, it can make sense to turn on yourself, to do drastic and harmful things to your own body.
I’m extremely grateful to have an accepting family who might not understand my gender nor my sexuality, but who are trying to. Thank you so much to the people that helped empower me with the language to be able to do so, and to everyone that’s supported me.
For anyone out there questioning their gender, please know that it’s okay to not fully understand and feel like you don’t fit into any of the labels out there. Language is limited, and is often suffused and then policed by the majority, and the majority at the moment are hell bent on telling us that there are only two genders. Anyway, please remember that whatever decision on your identity you come to, it is valid regardless of what anybody says. The topic of your identity begins and ends with you, nobody else.
That’s it for this post! I’m sorry, this ended up being really long. I was actually really nervous about publishing this post, I always am when there too personal. Leave your thoughts in the comments or let me know if you would like me to do more posts like this.