Revisiting Nonbinary

I’m nonbinary, I feel I include both male and female genders in a way that wouldn’t be satisfied with just an “androgynous” female presentation.

I never looked down at my body and said “this is wrong”, nor did I feel like male parts and aspects were missing. What was missing was not parts, but a sense of possibility–I lacked the ability to express masculinity as I understood and loved it, because it would not be read as masculinity or maleness from my female body. To me, that’s social dysphoria.

I recognized, over the course of a few months, that transitioning hormonally/physically to male presentation would be the only way to express my inner masculinity and have it read as male. At first, I wasn’t even excited about the physical changes that it will bring, but I accepted them as inevitable and necessary. And at first, I was pretty neutral about my female body–absolutely no parts upset me for gender reasons. Now that I’ve let myself just be in that space, I’m excited for the physical changes, and feel impatient with the female gendered parts of me.

I’ve been a feminist all my conscious life, and always tried to stand up for fluid gender roles and anti-sexism. For a very long time, say into my mid-20s, I wasn’t particularly feminine in expression, say more gender non-conforming.

But what happens is, there’s just too much psychological stress after awhile. Even if one feels pretty ok with their body, and has the ability (due to having at least partly-female gender) to process female social experience, the life experience backs up because not all of me can handle the woman role I was trapped in. This leads to a sense of weariness.

In the 1990s and 2000s, there were so few ways to even learn that trans men exist, it never even occurred to me that that could be my problem. I thought I was just depressed.

But then wondered why, deep down inside me, there seemed to still be this fresh, joyous, eager aspect of myself, almost untouched by life, that loved itself and wanted to come out. I struggled for years to let it out, but never seemed to be able to. Nobody could see it or hear it, even when I talked from that place.

I now know it was because it was my male gender, and coming from a femme-looking woman, it caused so much cognitive dissonance in the people around me (I live in the South) that they simply would not acknowledge it. This furthered my depression until I became pretty much unable to function as an adult. The part of me that people demanded to interact with was utterly burned out, and the bright spark inside me was invisible. I spent three years depressed and unemployed.

I had the cascading good fortune, beginning last fall, to move to a much more accepting-of-freaks city, meet some amazing friends online, and through sheer chance, realize that I was nonbinary this summer. That thing that had always been inside me was an additional male gender people couldn’t see, because they looked at me and saw only a woman.

Simultaneous to this, I befriended a trans man, who was kind enough to answer every question I could think of, with eagerness and honesty. I am so glad the first trans man narrative I heard was one of joy and self-acceptance, because it literally matched my experience.

When I realized I was trans, I felt euphoria for weeks. I’ve never had much physical dysphoria. But gender euphoria when I changed my name, began to wear men’s clothes, came out to my online friends? It was like getting a shot of morphine after 15 years of steadily-ratcheting agony. The tired girl inside me laid down to take a nap, and here I am.

Since that realization, I have had mild physical dysphoria. In that I definitely want top surgery, definitely want testosterone to work quickly. But it comes back to impatience and social validation, not body-focused pain.

That said, if anyone were to say social dysphoria weren’t enough and forbid my medical treatment, I would break any law and walk 100 miles over glass to get it anyway.

So yeah, I’m one of the weird non-binary genders, I learned about all this shit on Tumblr, I’m middle aged, and it’s still all totally real.