I have mentioned a few times on here that I identify as non-binary and even wrote a post about non-binary not being a ‘cool’ thing back in September. Today I’d like to just discuss what being non-binary means to me, and how I define it for myself.
Wikipedia defines non-binary as;
Genderqueer (GQ), also termed non-binary or gender-expansive, is a catch-all category for gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine—identities which are thus outside of the gender binary and cisnormativity.
Binary as a computer term means 0 or 1, on or off, yes or no. In terms of gender it is defined as male or female. One or the other.
But gender isn’t always as simple as you may grow up thinking. I believe it has already been well established in recent years that pink is not just a girls colour and blue for boys, but when it comes to the idea of male vs. female, people are more resistant to change.
As a non-binary person I grew up knowing there were trans women in the world, gay people, lesbians and a few people who couldn’t decide. That was my knowledge of LGBT, through no fault of my family, most people had no idea trans men existed much less non-binary people. Already I was fighting an uphill battle with myself and my own understanding.
When I realised that LGBT may be an acronym that somehow fitted me I was surprised. I had gone for years being fine with other people, but it just wasn’t me – right? Clearly, I was very wrong. Now I am an openly queer person, identifying as trans, non-binary, and bisexual on the surface alone.
The term pansexual was what first educated me to knowing that there was more than just male and female. I was in the depths of tumblr as a teen and I initially accepted it as a given. Then I did a bit of research away from the website in an effort to clarify the facts. I found many sites that explained genderqueer (which is how I defined myself at first) and non-binary identifies. It went into pronouns, toilets, legislation, the full works. Finally something sort of made sense.
I initially came out as genderqueer and pansexual, and whilst I don’t identify as such now I do support both identifies fully. After I initially came out I went back in the closet for nearly a year, finally coming out as a trans man and bisexual. The identity fit slightly better, but it still wasn’t perfect. I stayed with it for a long time, and only in the past year and a half or so have I embraced once more identifying outside of the gender binary.
Since I came out again I have found it liberating. I still have issues, I can’t present too androgynous at work and have to be seen as male (working at a care home, it can be too confusing for residents), I struggle with allowing myself to wear make-up because I feel I am too masculine presenting to be able to wear it most of the time and I get too anxious, and I really struggle with pronouns. I don’t mind people calling me he most of the time (such as at work) but when I am outside of the workplace it is like I have filled my ‘he’ quota and I much prefer they.
But in contrast, when I am in my social circle or playing quidditch, I am able to be myself more.
What does being non-binary mean to me though? Why do I feel like it is important to me to express this side of my gender when I could just ‘pass’ as male?
Honestly it is a lot to do with my mental health. I feel constricted by the idea of masculinity. I grew up quite feminine, I had long hair, I played with Barbie’s and Poly Pocket, I loved listening to boy band’s and I got my ears pierced when I was 10.
However when I was young, I also remember chatting to a girl my mum babysat. She explained that she was a tomboy, her sister was a girly-girl and me? I was a ‘middlie’. I didn’t fit in the binary of even little girls. I was somewhere in between.
When I came out, I realised straight away that I wasn’t a binary guy. But I spent ages trying to be comfortable with everyone thinking I was just confused. So I came out again as a trans guy. It seemed easier. People said they ‘knew’ I’d come out entirely, that it was just a stepping stone. It still didn’t fit right though. Not for me.
I spent over a year and a half out as ‘binary’ before realising I couldn’t cope with it. I wasn’t binary. It may have been easier for everyone else to understand, but for me it was just a lie. I had to be true to myself.
So for the last year and a half or so I have been slowly coming out as non-binary to those around me. It hasn’t been easy and I have had a lot of people tell me I am just confused, or that I am making it up, or I am trying to be a special snowflake, or that being non-binary is just not real. I have heard them all. I try to explain being non-binary to people but it is very difficult, especially for someone who is cis.
The way I try to explain it is like this.
Imagine if you woke up one day in the body of someone of another gender, you don’t feel any different on the inside but everyone around you is seeing you differently. They are calling you by different pronouns than what you are expecting, and treating you completely differently. Imagine the discomfort. Then imagine you wake up the next day different again. But you are still not comfortable. Your whole idea of your body is different to what everyone else is seeing. Imagine going about your life not feeling like you fit either way, despite people telling you to ‘pick a side’. You can feel slightly more comfort one way than the other, but not completely, it still feels like something isn’t right.
I don’t know if that helps anyone, but that’s sort of how I feel. I can blend in as a male when I need to, go stealth, but I never feel quite right. I am lucky that I feel able to blend in at times, a lot of non-binary people don’t have that pleasure. A lot of non-binary people don’t feel even slightly like ‘one or the other’, they spend their lives going around being misgendered daily, with no hope to correct everyone without standing in the street educating people on the complexities of gender.
I am very lucky in my position but not everyone is, please don’t take this as me suggesting this is how everyone feels, it isn’t.
My gender is a learning curve, I am still not quite at the point I want to be and honestly I don’t know if/when I will get there. It isn’t about getting from point A to point B, it’s more like navigating the whole alphabet and there still not being enough letters. I wish I could just be binary a lot of the time. It would be easier than being the way I am, but it isn’t that simple.
One thing that was brought up in the non-binary group I’ve been running was this (paraphrased);
I don’t have any problems with my gender, I have a problem with other people having a problem with my gender.
Unfortunately that is common with a lot of non-binary people and I don’t know how to fix that at the moment.
As always please do leave me a comment and let me know what you thought about today’s topic. How do you identify? Do you have question’s still? Let me know in the comments below. I will try to answer to the best of my ability.
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