(CW/TW: abuse, su*c*de)
This post is in celebration of my “coming out” two years ago! (Yay!)
A friend reached out not too long ago asking about how I discovered the nonbinary label(s) that work for me, and what being nonbinary means to me. This was my response, with a little revision:
Being nonbinary means everything to me. I feel like I’m finally home—like I’ve been lost in the woods my whole life, and then was magically found, given a bath, and now I can finally start living out what was supposed to be my original journey. It feels like a realignment to my truest self.
It wasn’t easy to come by. I fought through a very repressed childhood, living under the roof of two conservative, Christian, overprotective parents. I fought through oppressive, abusive intimate relationships. I fought through losing friends I thought would be around forever. And though I still suffer from some of that pain, it is easy to bear compared to how I used to feel. When I was shoved into the box that is “woman,” I never saw myself getting older, though I didn’t quite understand why. I literally could not see ME reflected back to myself in the mirror. I constantly wanted to die (don’t get me wrong, I still have suicidal ideation, but it’s more related to chronic pain than anything else now).
I felt broken.
I’ve never identified with the binary, not even as a young kid. It just didn’t make any sense.
All I wanted to do was play with the boys (they were easier to get along with), get dirty in the mud and climb trees, hated skirts and stockings, hated dolls, etc. Of course, I was referred to as just a tomboy. Then as I grew up, I was forced into this box of femininity that did NOT serve me. I never saw myself like I saw the other girls, and never felt like I belonged. The only time I’ve felt like I’ve belonged was when I got attention from men in college. It was not an intrinsic sense of belonging, but a contentment that came from seeing how I was being treated just like the other girls (hello trauma). So when nonbinary-ness crept into my life, it immediately struck a chord with me. Fast forward to the final straw where I broke up with my abusive boyfriend in 2019, and at last I could step into my authentic self.
Not every nonbinary person has to identify as trans to be nonbinary, but nonbinary IS under the trans umbrella.
Nonbinary is under the trans umbrella because it is rejecting the binary as we traditionally know it. For a while I was only comfortable with identifying as nonbinary/enby (thanks internalized transphobia). Then I moved onto just queer. Then I moved onto genderfluid, then genderqueer. And then agender hit me. That was when I started getting more accustomed to “trans.” I now identify as trans (and do so proudly), along with all the other terms I’ve already listed and more, but for the most part I am just a fluidly queer human. Honestly I would love to say to people, “My gender is human,” because that makes more sense to me.
I like to think of gender as a constellation.
We are all just humans composed of our influences and innate desires. That being said, it took me a while to recognize the internalized misogyny which made me reject all things feminine after I came out. There are some parts of traditional femininity that I’ve liked in the past that I’m now slowly starting to pepper back into my identity. But I know I am NOT a woman, and I know I do NOT like most forms of femininity as I used to know them.
Before my “transition,” I was never enough. Never enough for the people around me, but worst of all, never enough for myself.
I’ll reiterate: discovering how I am nonbinary allowed me to realign to my truest self, which is why transition above is in quotations. This realignment has given me the self-confidence and efficacy I had been lacking my whole life. Now I KNOW I am enough. And I finally have found the right people to keep around me, who tell me that I am enough and worthy of love, especially on the days when I slip behind and forget.
Community is what brought me to myself. I was so lost, but every step I took out of my past, took me closer to the people who embrace themselves fully and fight for others’ right to do the same. These friends are mostly queer, outspoken, and never afraid to love the hate out of someone. They also know when to cut ties because boundaries are important. I found the language I was missing among these people. I also found language on the internet, but the people surrounding me were the ones who allowed me the safe space to try these words and identities on so I could find myself. This safe space I was provided is part of the reason I’m building this blog and hopefully further on, a center—I want to make that contribution too.
Gender is subjective; the binary as we know it is weak and dying.
Everyday, more and more people are realizing that they can express themselves however they like across the spectrum and just be who they are, even in the face of adversity. One day I hope for a future that is, in essence, genderless. Where genitalia and “matched” or “mismatched” behavioral constructs do not matter, and only the expression of the individual will take precedent. I want a future where we can refer to each other in neutral terms until a closer relationship is developed—then pronouns etc. come into play. But for as long as we have discrimination and hate crimes against those who are not a part of the majority narrative, we will continue to need these labels and will continue to fight for validity in the eye of the “majority.” (Just as we will for race, sexuality, etc.)
Anyway, that’s all to say, I love being nonbinary. I love being ME for the first time in my entire life. I love leaning masculine, if not being masculine in gender expression and identity. I also love being mysterious with my gender expression and confusing people. I love the performance of it all because I finally feel no confinement by it. Any attachment I have to gender is on MY terms, not others’. I am SO FLUID with my feels. Somedays I feel like I’m ALL the genders at once, and other days I feel like I’m not any. I also go in between, feel two solid genders at once, or slide up and down the spectrum several times throughout a day or many days.
For once, I feel valid and completely free.
Of course it gets harder to stay that way when others (like my parents, or just the world at large) don’t understand or try to push me back into boxes that I don’t belong in. But, I take those days in stride, and rely on my support network to have my back.
Some days I get angry that it took me so long to get to this point. But I just keep reminding myself:
Time spent growing into our authentic selves will never be time wasted.
For those exploring gender, remember, everything is at your own pace.
You could read this and have nothing resonate, or you could feel that resonation, but not want to do anything with it, and that’s okay. But if you’re truly starting to feel uncomfortable with what you’ve always known and grown into, maybe it’s time to explore more what gender means to you.
I’m so excited for your continued journey into who you may come to be! That being said, I offer consultation services on a sliding scale. If you would like to explore gender and sexuality with someone, please don’t hesitate to reach out through the contact tab on the main menu.
Disclaimer: I kept body dysphoria out of this post because (for me) it is intertwined with trauma, and that deserves its own post. Stay tuned! I will state, however, that body dysphoria is not a prerequisite to being trans or nonbinary.