Featured image description: A comic of a cartoon brain with eyes and a mouth fills the top left box. The context is Childhood. The brain says, “Why do you keep wishing you were a boy?” To the right of the brain box is a box of a person lying in bed with their eyes closed, saying, “It’s probably just crushes. I can’t be a boy.” The bottom left box has the context of the year 2021, and the brain says, “You can be a boy.” Next to this box is the last box in the comment, with the same person lying bed, their eyes wide open in a panic. The room is dark, so their eyes really stand out.

A dear friend of mine recently sent me an incredible article, full of stories about queer kids who had the opportunity to fully embrace themselves at Camp I Am (closed in 2018). I only made it past a couple of the kids’ stories before I found myself sobbing.

Why am I crying? Am I not ecstatic for these children?

It wasn’t a question of if I was happy or not for these kids. Instead, my body was recognizing my grief before my brain could figure out what was happening.

While my parents did what they thought best, and I was provided for, my upbringing wasn’t entirely supportive. That is to say, I was supported, but my parents only supported their ideal version of what they wanted me to be, and not who I actually was. In fact a lot of the time I was punished for who I was/wanted to be. After reading about how these young queer people had the opportunity to experience a piece of the world free of the bullshit—sexism, homophobia, transphobia—and had the resources to build a healthy support network to explore themselves within…something just broke down within me.

. . .I’d probably be a fully transitioned “boy” today.

While allowing children to take hormone blockers (and then hormones after puberty) as gender-affirming healthcare is relatively, to my knowledge, a newer practice (and thank the gods at all!), part of me wonders what life would have been like had I had the supportive environment I needed growing up. If external culture and internal familial life had been aligned with less judgment, more understanding, and more dismantling of the patriarchal structures society perpetuates, I’d probably be a fully transitioned “boy” today (hormone therapy, and top surgery if needed).

Socially speaking, I wanted to be a boy. Growing up I hated dolls, skirts and tights, and socializing the ways little girls do. Everyone was so cliquey, and most of them often didn’t want to play sports, get dirty playing in the woods, or include me in general (I was a weird, awkward kid). My peers always found ways to let me know that I was an outsider and did not belong. I always got along better with the boys and loved what the boys got to do, but once gendering really set it, I wasn’t always welcomed with them either.

I never cared about physicality until puberty hit. By then, I was deeply conditioned to accept that I was a girl—any attention I got from the boys was good attention, even though it felt wrong. It felt wrong because I was taught any of that was sinful, but at the same time, there was always something more that I just couldn’t put my finger on.

Another friend just today relayed the idea (from a repost on Hank Green’s TikTok) that gender is like a non-Newtonian fluid. What is a non-Newtonian fluid, you ask?

A non-Newtonian fluid is a fluid that does not follow Newton’s law of viscosity, i.e., constant viscosity independent of stress. In non-Newtonian fluids, viscosity can change when under force to either more liquid or more solid. Ketchup, for example, becomes runnier when shaken and is thus a non-Newtonian fluid.

– Wikipedia

I guess my gender is ketchup now 😂 [laugh-cry emoji].

But in all seriousness, as a child and into adulthood, I adopted “womanhood” because I was told that was my only option based on my physical sex. There was (and is) all this pressure to conform to the binary and not question why. But even as a kid I didn’t believe in it. I didn’t see its validity, as all humans are capable of so many things, men and women alike. And come to find in my late twenties, there are more options outside of (and within) the binary! Everything started to make sense once that knowledge was attained. I am a non-Newtonian liquid. Once I relieved myself of the pressure (brainwashing) of the binary, I came back to my fluid self.

Now that I understand myself to be autigender nonbinary, I can say with certainty that if I must be a human, having a penis and no breasts would suit me better than having what I was born with. I have a deep desire to look like a cis man, meaning I technically desire to be on testosterone. But there’s no chance of me seeking hormone therapy because I cannot risk losing my vocal range and tone quality. I’ve waited all my life to have the singing voice I have now, and I’m too scared of taking T because it’s almost guaranteed to change my voice. I’m also too scared of getting surgery because what if I don’t actually like the change? It’s taken me a long time to get accustomed to the sensitivity of the bits I’ve got. I don’t want to lose that now, even if I don’t like having the bits themselves. Honestly I wish I could just be bitless. No genitals or secondary sex characteristics. Just a plain human body, full of nothing but ambition and love. But all that being said, even with a “transitioned” body, I would still identify as nonbinary. I have no desire to actually be a man.

So to answer the question the title purposes, no, I am not a boy. And generally speaking I don’t have the desire to be a boy, though I do sometimes prefer the “masculine” pronouns he/him. Had things been different growing up—where people would have understood there are more than 2 genders and gender-affirming healthcare is appropriate—I’d probably have no breasts, a deeper voice, and more regular use of he/him pronouns, but I still wouldn’t be a boy. If anything I’d be a *nonbinary* boy.

In this timeline though? I’ll settle for the knowledge that I am perfectly valid the way I am, and will continue practicing self-compassion and acceptance for the things I cannot change. Oh, and get some new ink. That helps.


…Care to help with my dysphoria? Add to my “new ink” fund —> @thequeercult on Venmo and queercultcoaching@gmail.com on PayPal. Many thanks and much love 💜

This is for my fellow enbys (and those who might be questioning): You cannot appropriate being trans. Here’s a great thread/article about it; You cannot appropriate being trans. You can only activate who you are by trying labels on and exploring gender.

For the first year after I came out, I felt like “trans” didn’t apply to me. Growing up, I was conditioned to identify as a woman because I have a “female body” (in quotes, as I’ve never had my chromosomes tested). That conditioning allowed discomfort for sure, but at the time, that discomfort was in context of misogyny. I wasn’t aware that I was being denied a more fitting identity profile, I just knew that being a woman kind of sucked (and outside of it sucking, it really didn’t suit me, but I couldn’t figure out how or why yet).

A quick recap on my history: In high school, the ‘T’ in LGBTQIA+ was rather silent for me, and the other letters hadn’t really existed yet. I had yet to meet any openly trans people (that I knew of), and sexuality took precedence. I only understood myself to be an ally at the time. Then in college I understood myself to be bisexual, and only understood bisexual to mean that I liked both men and women in a trans-exclusionary kind of way (this makes me cringe the most).

sdf

Post college I was adopted into an incredible community of friends—friends who are queer, sex and kink-positive, body neutral, and so loving. This community was where “nonbinary” finally found its way to me, and my world was rocked. It’s easy to not know who you are because you don’t see yourself reflected back to you, so when it finally IS reflected, it’s really hard to ignore. The safe space I was provided to try things on for myself, combined with that reflection, is what allowed me to realign to my authentic self.

All this to say: after I came out, it took me a literal year to be comfortable with identifying as trans. Not all nonbinary people identify as trans for many reasons, and for me, it was internalized transphobia along with feeling like an imposter—”nonbinary” was newer to the mainstream, and I “hadn’t suffered” as much as others I knew in the community had, just to be who we are. Besides, I wasn’t trans enough to actually be trans anyway, as if being nonbinary was just Woman Lite™ (cringe, especially since there are AMAB and intersex enbys).

Of course as I grew into my identity thereafter, the deeper understanding I gained, the more clear it was to me that nonbinary is completely valid as its own umbrella of genders under the transgender umbrella. But in order for me to get there, I had to be patient and undo a lot of conditioning. I had to reckon with the fact I had been taught my whole life how the LGBTQIA+ community is full of delinquents who I shouldn’t be associated with, who are sinners and need Jesus. And even though intellectually I understood this to be untrue, my inner workings needed some time to reverse that brainwashing. Outwardly I was afraid of overstepping boundaries and being perceived as an imposter or appropriating culture, and inwardly I was still fighting to not want to be a “delinquent” myself—to not be like them. *still cringing*

The only stable definition of being trans is “not identifying with your assigned gender a birth,” and I think that definition includes a hell of a lot of people who currently call themselves cis and are worried about appropriating being trans.

– Cherry Blossom (@DameKraft on Twitter)

Being trans is not a culture but an identity that informs community. For this reason alone, you cannot appropriate it. I think you can absolutely misrepresent the community, like Caitlyn Jenner has recently, or do harm as an ally (un/intentionally), but you can’t appropriate being trans because you can find transgender people in different cultures all over the world, where we’ve existed since the beginning.

The House of Trans™

So if you find yourself not identifying/vibing with your assigned gender at birth (AGAB), the House of Trans is open to you.

A friend reached out last year asking about gender things, and I offered her a metaphor:

Transness is a house, open to literally anyone. If you don’t feel at home in your gender, you might want to look through the window to the House of Trans and see what’s inside. And if you’re really searching, maybe you’ll open the door, step in, and stay awhile. If you feel more at home here, then home is where you’ll stay. But if you stay awhile and find that it’s not your true home, you’re welcome to leave and come again at any point. And you don’t have to suffer to gain passage! You might have walked by on a nice stroll through town and wanted to just see what’s inside. Maybe you’ve climbed the tallest mountain to reach the house. We all come to understand our identities in our own time, and each journey has its own obstacles to overcome. Whatever obstacles you’ve traversed (or lack thereof) doesn’t make you any more or less trans, it just means it took more or less time to get here. This isn’t the Suffer Olympics™. Yes, some folk may have more privilege than others in the fact that they haven’t suffered through a lot to be comfortable with who they are or put labels on things, but that privilege does not negate who they are.

You don’t need to have gender dysphoria to be trans. And you definitely don’t have to transition (hormonally or socially) to be trans. The only thing that you need to “qualify,” whether you think it’s justified or not, is to identify as something other than your AGAB. That’s it. And that includes identifying as your AGAB along with something else, as with some nonbinary people and demiboys/girls do. Your voice is just as valid as other trans voices if that’s how you want to identify. It all comes down to personal preference.

If trans doesn’t vibe with you *only* because you feel like you’re appropriating or are an impostor, please give yourself space and time to work through that. You are not any less of who you are because you’re not the same as others. And if you decide you still don’t identify as trans even after working through *why* that might be, that’s okay! You can still be nonbinary without claiming trans for yourself! Just know that the trans community is full of people who used to feel as you might right now, dear reader. You are not alone. 💜🖤💜


Exploring gender, sexuality, or neurodiversity? Remember, everything is at your own pace. And I can help! If you’d like to talk with someone about what you’re going through, I offer consulting services on a sliding scale. Please don’t hesitate to reach out through the contact tab on the main menu. 🥰

And soon I will be offering life coaching! Stay tuned!

I’ve never identified with the binary, not even as a young kid. It just didn’t make any sense.

– Me, from my post Nonbinary and Me

I’ve written a few times about my nonbinary gender and what it means to me. And I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job at expressing myself. Except it’s still felt a bit inconclusive, like something is perpetually lacking. Then I recently found autigender:

Neurodiverse Tumblr users first coined autigender in 2014, defining it as a gender which can only be understood in the context of being autistic. This definition suggests that some people’s gender experience and knowledge is influenced by or attached to their being autistic. 

– Katie Munday on AIM for the Rainbow

While autigender can be used as a standalone gender, it’s also used as a qualifier (much like nonbinary). When I say I am autigender nonbinary, I mean I cannot see the world without my autism’s influence, including perceiving and understanding how I am nonbinary. Using “autigender” does not make a person trans, though transness can of course co-occur (as it does with me). Autigender, as I use it, actually expands my understanding of my own transness. It just makes it make more sense.

I’ve never understood gender. Not once. I’ve only played the part and respected others’ expression. Intellectually I understand gender is a spectrum, but it’s hard for me to conceptualize that spectrum in any real meaningful way. It’s not tangible. I just know what feels right and what doesn’t. What some understand boy to be vs. girl does not land with me because we’re all just human. I have said before that I often wish I could just say my gender is “human” and call it a day.

Growing up, I didn’t want to be a boy, nor did I want to not be a girl. I just wanted to be me.

In looking back, it’s fair to say I wanted the social gender of “boy.” I didn’t care about genitalia, but I knew I wanted shorter hair (because long hair for me is sensory hell) and to be treated like “one of the guys.” And then puberty hit. My “weirdness”—I was still learning how to mask my autism effectively—already threatened me with ostracization. Therefore, it became abundantly clear that if I wanted to fit in at all, I needed to commit to the greatest acting challenge I’d ever have to take on: the role of “girl.” I participated in traditionally feminine rituals like doing make-up, wearing heels, or “gossiping,” because I desperately wanted to be included. All of it made me incredibly uncomfortable.

Making friends in the moment isn’t always hard, but keeping them has been a life-long challenge. So I played the part, and failed a lot. Instead of being true to myself, I put on mask after mask, to hide my quirks and to show up in the world as others expected me to be. I lost sight of who I was; even though I was performing gender the “right” way for the most part, I still didn’t succeed at keeping those friends. I have now learned that the more I am authentically me, and loud about it, the more the right people come into my life and stay.

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).

– Me, again from the post Nonbinary and Me

It’s difficult to explain how I didn’t see myself like I saw other girls. It might be more accurate to say that I didn’t see myself as I projected how other girls saw themselves. And it didn’t help that my body didn’t develop in the same ways either (short stature, small chest, more of a square but pudgy middle, thick thighs). It was hard to ever feel beautiful, especially as I never felt like my outer appearance reflected my inner self, though I didn’t know why. No feminine expression ever really felt right. The most beautiful I ever felt was in a messy bun and sweats. In fact, that was when I got complimented the most. I theorize it’s because I was comfortable, and therefore more able to be authentic. It never crossed my mind that I could be something other than a girl, not even when I encountered trans people for the first time and started to learn about how I fit into the LGBTQIA+ community in sexuality (probably because nonbinary wasn’t a part of that world yet in the way that it is now). Every instance of “failure” I experienced at performing my gender directly affected my intrinsic sense of self-worth. Instead of “failing at being a girl” it felt like I was just failing at being human, at being me. And I really couldn’t understand why that was.

A lot of trans people have said and will continue to say, “Oh I’ve always know I wasn’t my AGAB.” These folx usually have stories to tell of how they defied gender stereotypes for that explicit purpose/understanding. For me, I’ve always known I was different neurologically (maybe not in those terms, but I knew I was different and that I couldn’t change). Gender, however, was never questioned because I was never presented another option. There are girls, and boys—that’s it. My version of “girl” growing up was “tomboy.” And after a certain point, “tomboy” was no longer acceptable.

And so, there was a complete disconnect inside of me, and not because I wanted a different gender’s body. I wanted a different body alright, but a different “girl” body so that I could pass as a girl better. All I wanted was to be a perfect daughter and someone a man would find worthy enough to marry. These were the virtues I was taught took precedence, even over my intellect. I could go to school and get a good job, but it really didn’t mean much unless I got married and had kids (as is the plight for women under the outdated rules of patriarchy, especially those who are consumed by the Christian Church as I was then).

In my brain, I’m just human–without qualifiers. I’m just ME.

I’ve said in the past that I feel like all the genders at once, or none at all, or I’ll slide fluidly between many. But that was only an attempt to describe how much gender just doesn’t work in my brain. Those were the words I knew to use to convey how things work for me, as best I could. Nonbinary has worked, but it’s been like wearing a shoe that’s just barely too tight. You can get away with wearing it fine for a while, but after a whole day of walking around, you’re sore and worse for wear. It’s a bit stifling. Suffocating. It’s still a box, even when there is no right or wrong way to be nonbinary (it’s paradoxical because there’s no right or wrong way to be any kind of gender). For this reason I sometimes prefer genderqueer to nonbinary (it conveys more room to move around in for me). I’d rather just not be a part of the system at all though. I’d rather be a constellation of what makes up ME, where I choose the things I do and do not like and exist as a human on this earth without being forced into labels or skewed understanding. Adding “autigender” to my nonbinary label, then, allows me that liberation from the whole spectrum even as I operate within it.

I do believe my neurology has played the biggest role in not only trapping me into “womanhood” for so long, but also in my liberation from it. I was a girl for so long because my environment told me I was. Many autists are very literal people, myself included. I just accepted I was a girl, and a poor one at that. I couldn’t truly grasp gender before, but now looking through the lens of my autism, everything just makes sense. I needed new information and a safe space to try other identities on, and I’m so grateful that’s what I found myself in just a few years ago, and continue to find. Give me the space and tools to be creative, and I will create! And man did I ever create a masterpiece, one that is wholly reflective of who I am and not who I was projected to be.


Exploring gender, sexuality, or neurodiversity? Remember, everything is at your own pace. And I can help! If you’d like to talk with someone about what you’re going through, I offer consulting services on a sliding scale. Please don’t hesitate to reach out through the contact tab on the main menu. 🥰

And soon I will be offering life coaching! Stay tuned!

CW: transphobia, deadnaming, sexism, mention of sex acts, su*c*de

It’s funny to me (read: ironic and awful) how cis people can change their names all the time without so much as a second glance, and yet when trans people do it, suddenly their identity is up for debate and relationships are at stake.

“It’s not just about you, it’s about everyone around you. Calling it your deadname makes me feel like our relationship is dead because I gave you that name and cherished picking it for you.”

– paraphrasing my mom; it was not so kind the first time

Calling a deadname a deadname is NOT reflective of a trans individual’s relationship with others, but with themselves. It is selfish and entitled to make someone else’s identity about yourself.

“She’s not dead! She is a part of you!”

– Mom

Actually, no. It’s the other way around, and I really wish cis people would wake up to that truth. We’re not talking about the inner child being a part of the adult here. We’re talking about how I have always been Jaesic, just with the wrong casing and outer/inner perception. As a child, I was not a “she.” I was forced to believe that I was though.

I had to construct a box around me that was “girl” to keep who I actually was, safe. And what a bunch of crap the notion of “safety” was and is to be a girl in this world. #fuckthepatriarchy

I remember in preschool a boy was picking on me pretty harshly, and I was told that that’s because he liked me.

That’s two boards nailed together: girls take abuse from boys because that’s them showing affection.

When I was 6 years old, I started going to our Assembly of God’s youth program: Missionettes. I had zero interest in Bible readings, and learning how to be a sweet, demure female. All we did was study, and learn house keeping. I’m not kidding. The boys, however, got to learn survival skills in Rangers (it was the church’s version of Boy Scouts). I desperately wanted to be a Ranger. Not only did I get along with boys better, but my dad was one of the leaders, and I wanted to be closer to him. And how cool would it have been to learn survival things! I loved nature, and I loved camping (still do, and my dad is still very passionate about camping).

“Girls can’t be in Rangers! Enough!’ – Dad. I thought because my dad was one of the leaders, that they could make an exception, but no. I cried for days.

Plank nailed in: the house is the female’s domain, and even when you’re passionate about something, you can be denied access due to your gender.

I was 7 years old playing outside in a dress that I didn’t want to wear, and fell to the ground after spinning around some (apparently spinning around all the time was a way to stim). My legs were bent as I was lying there and my mother screeched at me to keep my legs together and keep them down.

Another plank nailed in: girls cannot be carefree and must be aware of how they present their bottom half at all times.

I was in 4th grade, and they separated the boys and girls into different rooms to teach about sex organs and bodily changes.

Another plank: girls and boys are different, and it’s taboo/shameful to talk about those differences together.

In 5th grade my grandparents took the family on a Christmas cruise. Mom forced me again to wear a dress I did not want to wear. It was too much for my senses: bright red, too tight on my torso, and had poufy short sleeves. I felt hideous on top of wanting to puke and cry from sensory overload. I was in a foul mood all night and was severely reprimanded.

Plank: good girls do what they’re told without protest; comfort is in pleasing others and nothing else.

In 6th grade, I was on the bus after staying at school late, and a high school boy started harassing me about sex acts, including fisting, which I had no conceptualization for. I just sat their mute, awkwardly nodding and smiling out of nervous habit. I was unable to get away because we were the only two on the bus and he wasn’t letting up. Instead of interrupting the conversation as he was hearing it, the bus driver (my favorite bus driver at the time) waited until I was walking down the steps to my driveway to then scold me with, “I heard what you were talking about back there. What would your mother say should I tell her?” Every bus ride thereafter was a hell of anxiety.

Plank: there is shame in being harassed, and girls have to take full accountability for others’ actions.

In 7th grade I was told I could no longer play tag football in gym with the boys.

Plank: girls can’t and shouldn’t keep up with the boys, especially in sport. We’re inferior.

8th grade: I was caught sexting an older high school boy. Instead of talking to me about sexuality and asking me if I was okay, my parents “prayed the devil out of me” and grounded me for a year. Fun fact, I was not okay. I was constantly uncomfortable with what was happening, but didn’t have the ability to make boundaries and uphold them. I thought all girls wanted this attention from boys, and I only kept up with it because I thought I was “chosen.” I hated talking like that and barely even knew what I was saying or being told. All of it felt wrong.

Plank: my body and sexuality are a sin.

9th grade: Freshman year, my boyfriend touched my genitals under a blanket at the after prom party (he was a senior). I wasn’t coerced, but I wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about it. At the time I was bound to Purity Culture, so I was not sexually active, and was not really interested in *touching* things yet. I asked my boyfriend later on why he needed to touch it when he knows we won’t be having sex. He replied, “I don’t know.”

Plank: Sex acts are for others’ pleasure and boundaries are negotiable.

I “wasn’t like other girls.” I liked playing in nature for hours and getting sapped by the trees, hated playing with dolls, despised skirts and stockings and anything “frilly,” got along better with “the guys,” the purple/pink combo nauseated me (still does)…

I could go on and on, but I don’t want to detract from the main message of this article. Bottom line is, the more I learned to be a “girl” against my will and understanding, the longer I stayed naïve, and the more abuse I endured—and not just abuse from “men,” but from all people around me. Because after building this box around me, and adding layer after layer, I lost sight of who I was, and I lost my voice. When you don’t know who you are, you’re susceptible to being swayed one way or another a lot of the time (at least in my experience).

Add in a lot of neurodivergence, and the masks I kept having to wear to “fit in,” then got nailed onto my box and became who I was. There was no light getting through the cracks anymore for me to witness my true self. Chronic pain only muddled things further. I had next to no tools for communicating effectively, or for emotional regulation, or for loving my mind and body. I had no tools to take the nails out of my “self-made” coffin…I wanted to die.

Since I could no longer access Jaesic, I couldn’t see me getting older. I didn’t WANT to see me getting older. Even on my happiest days, I still wanted to die. I didn’t and couldn’t feel like ME. Coming out as nonbinary two years ago, and discovering my autism since, has been a painful yet liberating process of me finding the light within and bursting out of the coffin the world insisted that I build.

“Well it seems to me that your trauma is why you reject your gender.”

Oh honey, no. Now I’m not saying trauma can’t play a role in forming identity. It absolutely can and does, as us humans do not exist in a vacuum. The point is though, even IF trauma forces that “choice,” then that individual has always had the capacity to be more than their prescribed gender, or sexuality, or job, or literally anything. Again, us humans are pretty damn complex. So instead on focusing what lived experience may have contributed to a person’s new (to you) identity, let’s just see the person for who they are in the present moment and respect how they want to be addressed. If we can do that for cis people (when they get married, go by a new nickname, change jobs, attain higher education) then we absolutely can do the same for transgender people too.

I have always been ME. It just took me longer to figure that out because I was traumatized into being a girl for the first 25 years of my life. And that right there folks is why we need to support trans youth. Trans youth are under attack for just wanting (needing) to be who they are! And they are at greater risk for depression, considering suicide, and attempting suicide than their peers when they do not have the support they need. Learn what you can do to fight against unjust legislation in the U.S. There are many organizations that have resources available to you.

The simplest thing you can do for trans people, though? LISTEN, BELIEVE, and LET LIVE.


Exploring gender or sexuality? Remember, everything is at your own pace. And I can help! If you’d like to talk with someone about what you’re going through, I offer consulting services on a sliding scale. Please don’t hesitate to reach out through the contact tab on the main menu.  🥰

And soon I will be offering life coaching! Stay tuned!

“Are transgender and nonbinary synonymous?”

Short answer, yes. Long answer, no.

Well that’s confusing, so let’s dive deeper shall we?

Transgender is an umbrella term. What’s an umbrella term?

“An umbrella term, or a hypernym, is a word or phrase used to generally, rather than specifically, describe a group of varying but identifiably related subjects.”

Alicia Sparks at infobloom.com

Under the umbrella that is “transgender” we have the gender spectrum. Cisgender people exist on the polar ends of said spectrum, outside the transgender umbrella, though even this is being reworked a little (more on this in a bit). As the photo above depicts, there are two small umbrellas underneath the larger transgender umbrella, and those are “binary” and “nonbinary.”

In the binary category, we have transgender men and women. They are under the binary umbrella because trans men and women are just that, men and women. That’s the classic binary code of gender, 1 or 0.

In the nonbinary category, we have genderfluid, genderqueer, bigender, agender, demigirl, demiboy, neutrois, and more. The more people explore what gender means to them outside of the binary, the more terms we find to be fitting. This does not lessen the validity of binary genders (cis or trans), but instead expands our understanding of what gender is at large. Gender is a spectrum, after all (and it gets less linear everyday). The one thing I will point out in disagreement with the picture above, is that genderqueer is more of a synonym for transgender than it is an identity under the nonbinary umbrella. Genderqueer is often used as its own umbrella term, describing people’s “non-normative experience with their gender,” which can encompass anyone under the transgender umbrella, binary or nonbinary. In saying this, however, one can and many do use genderqueer as a stand-alone identity, often depicting their nonbinary gender.

To me, ‘genderqueer’ represents a queering of gender, so to speak. It’s a deliberate playing with gender in a very political sense, and being provocative around gender norms to highlight the gender stereotypes of our culture.

– Laura A. Jacobs, an LGBTQ+ psychotherapist in an interview with VICE

Are Nonbinary and Transgender Interchangeable?

They can be! Because transgender begets nonbinary (as in the umbrella model), many nonbinary folx use trans and nonbinary interchangeably, myself included. But many nonbinary people do not identify as trans, and that’s okay. It all comes down to individual preferences.

I am also now learning that “nonbinary” can be used to further qualify cisgender identity as in “I am a nonbinary woman,” which is where my aside from before comes back into the conversation. Despite normative rhetoric, we CAN be multiple genders. Us humans are beautiful in our complexity! When it comes to being nonbinary, an individual who identifies as such can also identify as bigender, poly-gender, or some other multiple-gender concept that includes their assigned gender at birth (AGAB) to be at least one of those identities, as is the case for the aforementioned nonbinary woman.

Many nonbinary folks may not be bothered by their assigned gender at birth and feel like it still describes them in some way so they don’t want to fully adopt the trans label.

– a queer Facebook commenter
  • Some nonbinary people will not claim trans for themselves because of internalized transphobia (whether they realize it or not).
  • Some nonbinary people will not claim trans for themselves due to not feeling “trans enough” (which, let me be clear, if you’re gender non-conforming in identity, and you want to be a part of the trans community, you ARE trans enough).
  • Some nonbinary people will not claim trans for themselves because they still identify with their AGAB as the quote above describes. This can be conflated with demigirl/boy identities.

For me, it depends on the situation. Sometimes it’s just easier to use trans as a shorthand, as I can feel vulnerable in getting specific about my gender identity. Sometimes I use trans for the shock value, as most people misgender me. “Trans” empowers me to stand in my identity because I feel the support of the whole community behind me when I use it (not that nonbinary doesn’t do that too, but most people know what trans is, whereas not everyone knows with nonbinary is). Other times nonbinary is more fitting because I feel too vulnerable saying trans in fear of being the recipient of transphobia, as if nonbinary is less in-your-face trans? That definitely plays into my own internalized transphobia, but the fear of external transphobia is real, and this is how my brain rationalizes things in order to deal with them.

Nonbinary is under the trans umbrella because it is rejecting the binary as we traditionally know it.

– Me, in my post Nonbinary and Me

I’ll admit now that “rejecting the binary” was not the best way to phrase things. Not all nonbinary people reject the binary, as bigender people exist, as well as genderqueer/genderfluid folx who play with gender within the binary. This is only amplified more when we consider nonbinary cisgendered people. To be transgender, then, is to participate within the gender binary in untraditional, counter-normative ways, with the possibility to reject the binary altogether.

Humans are WAY too complex for us to say anything in our lives is a paradox. “We contain multitudes.”

– same queer Facebook commenter

There is so much nuance when it comes to human identity and the words we use to describe ourselves. As time progresses, we’re relearning just how expansive humanity can be. We do not fit neatly into the same few boxes! And even when we do, those boxes are often subjected to change or overlap, over time.

So are transgender and nonbinary synonymous? It all comes down to the individual at hand, so always ask before you assume!

(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.