— We are listening

On coming out as non-binary

Since I was very young, I was uncomfortable with my femininity. I was acutely aware that I was unlike the other girls, experimenting with makeup, wearing all the pretty dresses, doing whatever they could to be “pretty.” I hated the idea of “pretty,” I threw tantrums when forced to wear frilly holiday dresses, I angrily rejected any compliment directed at me that was riddled with language like “gorgeous,” and “she” and “little girl.” I didn’t feel like a little girl, and I detested anyone who implied that I was. I was described by others as a tomboy, while my sister reveled in her tulle-colored dresses and her devotion to the color pink. I only liked “boy colors.”

This continued well into my teens, which fostered a time of feeling like nothing I wore made sense. As I became older and more sexually mature, as people who are assigned female at birth are taught, I made a conscious effort to wear things that were perceived as more feminine. Dresses and awkward hair accessories flooded my wardrobe, and I realized pretty quickly, to my dismay, that I didn’t really know how to “do” femininity. At least in the way that it was being presented around me. I hated my clothes, I hated my body, I hated myself.

When I went to college, I slowly began embracing my masculine side by not trying to force femininity in what I wore, and cutting my once waist-length hair to just above my shoulders. At my school, I learned a lot about different gender identities and presentations that I wasn’t entirely aware of. My peers, who were genderqueer and trans, began reflecting what I was feeling about myself. Discussions of pronouns and gender fluidity crowded the air around me, and opened up my world to new possibilities.

However, I felt that identifying as cisgender for so long, even when we had all discussed gender at length with each other, would make me an impostor if I was to come out. Around this time, I had come out as queer, but I continued denying my gender feelings, enduring partners’ many demands to know if I’m “100% straight” or “100% cis.” I didn’t know the answer.

The longer I became comfortable with and educated about the gender identities of those around me, I started slowly coming to terms with my own. And the more I eased into my gender fluidity, the more I felt incredibly misgendered when my family and friends would use “she” when referring to me. I knew I had to come out.

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