I’ve always been some sort of queer, and known it since at least high school. I’d assumed it was a sexual orientation thing, but while I knew I liked guys, I was never all that into girls. So what could it be?
I’ve been thinking about this since right after the Pulse shooting. And I think it’s time to finally say it out loud. It’s a gender thing.
Nonbinary to me has a couple of aspects. One is that it describes my overall life. I am at least bigender (male & female, and possibly something else), as well as genderfluid. Over the course of my life, there have been times I was almost as comfortable in feminine identity as a cis girl would be, though never quite all the way.
But there was also another part of me, that only got expression as a “masculine girl”, which wasn’t super satisfying. It was a male aspect of me. In the era of my childhood and teens, there was no concept of nonbinary or genderfluid. So I had to content myself with going between feminine, and masculine-girl, states.
And in the South, the latter invited a lot of bullying and ostracization, especially since when I was in that state, I wasn’t a tomboy–I was actually a manly “girl”.
The states lasted a few years each, more or less. As my twenties wore into my thirties, “manly girl” was less an accepted possibility for me to express. The demands put on adult women were forcing me further and further into feminization, and female aging took away some of the chance to be comfortably boyish, without the potential to be masculine replacing it. So that sucked, and started to hurt.
I went into this extended period of dysphoria and trying really hard to feminine myself and be an adult woman. But all it did was just burn my female aspect out once and for all. There were a few years I felt basically genderless, depressed, agoraphobic about even leaving the house. Only moving to New Orleans has really helped me emerge from that.
Now I’ve learned about nonbinary genders. And it has explained my whole life. It’s not really like having multiple me’s or anything. It’s more akin to being polyamorous, or having more than one career at a time, or being ambidextrous. I wish I’d known about it in time to kind of “save” the girl part of me from being burned out. And if she comes back, that’s ok. But what I have now is the identity that was always also in there, the man.
And he’s waited a long time to even exist in the world, so I’m really excited to be transitioning this year.
It makes me grateful to think I love in a time and place where this sort of exploration and admittance is finally gaining visibility and legitimacy.
Some people don’t understand it, or think it can’t exist, or think it’s wrong, and try to get you to limit yourself to one. That’s what happened to me, though the guy side always eventually found an outlet. I just hated how, when he did, it was always misunderstood or mocked. Never seen correctly, because it was coming from a “girl’s” body and face. I hope that when I can pass as a man, that aspect of me will finally be seen and appreciated.
So nonbinary is in part, the overall story. And in part, too, it’s what kind of man I am. I didn’t want to be a masculine girl. I want to be a feminine man. So the man I’m going to be will have this feminine streak, and be queer, etc. Not a guy trying to be a girl, but a male-emphasized balance of male and female traits, traditionally speaking.