Ever since I was a kid, I’ve never been overly feminine. I’ve never been strongly masculine either. I’ve just been me. I’ve had strong beliefs in terms of rights for the LGBTQIA+ community and I’ve never been afraid to voice them. It wasn’t until about just over a year ago that my passion came from a deeper place…I realized I was one of them.
What Does “Non-Binary” Mean?
By definition, non-binary is used to describe those of us who feel our gender can’t be defined within the bounds of the traditional gender binary of male or female. Not identifying with our birth sex makes us a member of the transgender and queer community (the T in LGBTQIA+). Some of us identify as male and female while others identify as neither.
It’s important to note that not everyone who identifies as non-binary is comfortable identifying as part of the transgender umbrella, and they are valid all the same.
Over a year ago I learned the term “non-binary.” I wasn’t sure what it meant and when I looked up the meaning, I instantly felt peace. This is what I am. This is what I have been my whole life. There just wasn’t a word to put to my feelings. I’m non-binary.
I learned that I could use a mix of pronouns from she/her to he/him to they/their to any of the above. I also learned that I could dress in ways associated with femininity one day and masculinity the next. I could go completely gender-neutral if I cared to. My style has no limits now.
The biggest change has been my pronouns. I’m not comfortable with she/her and have asked people instead to call me they/them. Some non-binary individuals still go by she/her or he/him, some use a mix of all pronouns while others just want them dropped entirely.
At one point, I had to put off changing my pronouns to they/them officially because of my church’s standards. I was told I would lose certain blessings if I did. It was kind of a nightmare process with my church leaders and it wore me down emotionally and mentally.
I have since realized that any higher power would rather see a healthy and happy child than one not living as their authentic self and officially put my pronouns on all my social media and internet correspondence. And let me tell you, it was freeing.
As far as I see it, the world got bigger because now I have people to whom I can relate and a community to which I belong.
All The Questions
Something I didn’t expect was all the questions. The strangest being about my sex life and how this affects my husband ( side note: it doesn’t ).
Some people have questioned me about my “decision.”
Here’s the thing though…everyone else thinks this is a revelation and I’m changing. The truth is I don’t feel any different than before, I just have a name to put to how I feel. I genuinely don’t see the big deal about it.
In fact, when I came out on Facebook, to me it was just another Tuesday. It wasn’t until after my post that I realized the importance of what I was sharing with the world and I learned quickly the harsh reality of being open about your gender and sexuality on social media.
Not All Good Vibes
After my post on Facebook, I found out that some people were talking behind my back and saying things that were not supportive.
I’d be lying if I said that hearing some of this didn’t hurt. Watching people quietly unfriend me on social media after my announcement, hearing people talk when they didn’t think I could hear them, it stung. I told myself in the long run, it would be ok and that I didn’t need those people in my life anyway. They were making room for better people to enter my life.
That didn’t make it any easier to watch them leave though.
I wasn’t sure at one point about being openly non-binary. Especially after what happened with my church. I felt self-conscious about it. A run in with a random teenager changed all that.
One day, I was getting ready to go to Disney Springs and at the last minute, changed into my “Ask me about my pronouns” shirt. My husband and I struck up a conversation about some random Disney knowledge with a family in one of the stores. When we were done, I walked away to look at the Loungeflys and the teenager from the family followed me.
They asked me how to tell their mom that they are non-binary. It took me a minute to remember what shirt I was wearing and take in what they were asking me. I remember the huge smile on their face because they realized they were not alone.
We had a nice little talk about their fears of telling their mother, including the fear of them being disowned (apparently their father knew and put that thought in their head). I did what I could to give them the guidance I would have wanted at that age. We hugged and they skipped away, happy to have been talking to someone who understood. I think about that interaction at least once a week.
Work In Progress
For the most part, only the people I know online use my pronouns and let me tell you, my heart sings each time I see it. My husband, family, and coworkers have a hard time getting them right. I understand it’s a change and in this case, I’ve asked that my pronouns be dropped entirely instead of them using the wrong ones.
What matters most is how I feel about who I am. And I love myself. No longer struggling with my gender has put a piece of my heart and mind at ease. It feels good to just be me.