Among close friends, I’ve been going by they/them pronouns for about a year. I knew I wanted to keep it amongst the three of us because, as far as I’ve known, I’m nonbinary.
There are more terms that nuance personal gender experiences. The best I can describe my current gender is “blurry.” I know that I am a woman; however, I do not feel like that is a fully accurate description. Therefore, I keep to nonbinary, and I wanted to know whether I would enjoy being addressed with gender neutral terms.
Friends are usually the safest space for this kind of thing. I knew the basics of what to expect, especially because I’ve been blessed with amazing friends. I knew it would be different, that it would take time to not slip up and refer to me with feminine pronouns. I knew it would be accidental. I knew that, above all else, they love me and want what was most comfortable.
For me, it was just a relief to have people acknowledging how I felt. Hearing “they” or “them” from my friends helped with my social dysphoria.
The unexpected part of this experience was, and is, training myself into neutral pronouns. It hadn’t crossed my mind that I’d need to work with myself at all – that I’d need to address my own self-feminization. In retrospect, this seems fairly obvious. Of course, growing up in a very binary-gendered society, I have things to unlearn.
My response towards learning more about myself has usually been excitement and determination. This was no less true for realizing I must work on not misgendering myself – however, I was also exhausted.
I’ve already gone through the nauseating debacle of outing myself as asexual. It’s always an experience because I’ve had a wide range of rude responses. Also, most of what prompts me coming out is discomfort.
Growing up female, my body has never been my own; everyone from close family members to strangers has always had something to say about my “inevitable” motherhood. Outing myself has always been about addressing my sexual revulsion as much as it has been about repossessing my body.
But, sexual deviations from the heteronormative are still met with violent hatred. Often heterosexual and cisgender people respond even less kindly to LGBTQIA+ people not knowing every aspect of their nonconforming identities. We are not allowed to show ourselves, nor are we allowed to show any suggestion of uncertainty.
This isn’t to say that I’m not proud of how I identify or proud of learning more about my gender identity. However, I’ve learned the hard way that discussing labels for different sexual identities often results in anger and disgust.
It is exhausting – speaking up for your own discomfort. It is also exhausting because you are expected to justify every aspect of your existence, all to people that couldn’t care less. It’s a little like single-handedly writing the Apple Terms and Conditions; no matter how important what you have to say is, their eyes will always glaze over and they won’t even get past the first paragraph.
I do find my self-exploration deeply rewarding. I have found confronting and unraveling my own gender perceptions and assumptions extremely important. I cherish this time for acknowledging what works and doesn’t work for me.
However, I think it’s important to be open about this questioning space.
Sometimes, the only thing you know is that you don’t conform to a social binary. That’s okay – you don’t always have to know more. I am a valid nonbinary person despite being female in some spaces and nonbinary in others.
There is no one perfect way to be nonbinary.
Photo courtesy of deviantart.com.