Ever since I was little I would get frustrated when boys didn’t see me as one of them. At around 6 I vividly remember looking in the mirror and, for a moment, seeing a little boy staring back at me. In middle school I would say to my friends, “you know sometimes I wish I was a boy, it would make things easier.” Whenever I said these things people would ask — “are you transgendered?” (meaning: are you a trans boy?) — but that never felt right either. It wasn’t until recently that I encountered the term “non-binary” and realized it’s likely made for people with these types of experiences.
While I’ve been lucky to be comfortable with my body, I’ve had a lot of psychological dissonance over the years. I would get invited to women-only events and feel out of place — the words “woman” and “womanhood” would feel foreign to me and I would feel like an asshole for not being able to empathize with archetypically female experiences. I would get frustrated when my masculinity feels unseen, when I want to be related to as a brother rather than primarily a romantic attraction…
What makes all of this confusing is how my feelings would also fluctuate day to day. On the days that I’m more connected to my femininity I would think “am I actually a cis person seeking attention?” On the days that I feel like a pretty boy though I would think “am I actually a trans man in denial?” And then there are all the days that I feel androgynous or otherwise like a space alien and “what the fuck are genders?” 🥴
All I know is that the color blue didn’t exist before humans came up with a separate label distinguishing it from red or green. The way we use language influences our perception of reality and a rigid binary causes people to self-select into one bucket or another. The reality of genders is much more nuanced, dynamic and ever-changing, and I suspect a lot more people feel the way I do but filter out the memories that don’t fit with what is socially acceptable.
At the end of the day though, the truth of my being has nothing to do with any of this. The truth of my being is the awareness inhabiting this body, making these observations. It is neither male nor female and sees no difference between the two. It recognizes that any identity we take on will always be reductionist and temporary — “non-binary” is also just another label. The purpose of this post is my way of saying I don’t want to live in a box anymore. I want to acknowledge the entirety of who I am, without discarding any part of my experience. 💗
Thank you for coming to my TED talk. 😜