My relationship with gender has always been a complex one. Luckily, as a child, I was never made to conform to the gendered stereotypes that are often forced on us, the pink and the blue, instead my parents allowed me to explore and experiment however I pleased, and this helped me discover and come to terms with being non-binary. Although I am so lucky to have the continuous support of my parents, I think, in a way, not having the gendered constraints that many other kids had, I came upon my time of self-discovery quite late. I had no concepts to base my gendered questions off, and this led to me searching in the dark for a couple of years. I experimented with presenting myself with overly masculine traits, but I was increasingly uncomfortable. I then made an attempt at presenting overly feminine traits, but that too caused me discomfort. Eventually, I found a type of ambiguity to my expression. After growing up fixated on the way I appeared to other people, I adopted a strange coping strategy that was heavily intertwined with my gender. As I often feel discomfort from being perceived as female in public, the way I try to combat it is by meticulously planning my outfits so as to attempt to force others to perceive me as something other than a binary gender. It’s a strange obsession that I have only seen in other trans/gender non-conforming (GNC) individuals. Personally, I think of it as a safety net. If I make myself appear alternative or ‘dressed up’, the people looking will perceive me as something other than ‘normal’, and for me, this confirms my ambiguous gender. As problematic as this is, it provides me with some form of comfort.
Unfortunately, this hyper-obsession with the way I present is only one of many symptoms caused by internalised transphobia. Although it does grant me some escape, it all comes down to a similar issue; the negative view society has on those who do not conform to the cisgender, binary ideals. Any trans/GNC person who is growing up in present day society would know, it’s impossible not to internalise at least some of the transphobic messages that western culture and media feed us, and this is what leads to internalised transphobia.
These feelings and thoughts really tried to force me to suppress my gendered feelings and attempted to make me conform to the binary of either boy or girl. The feelings tried to strip me of my gender fluidity and force me to pick one, as society often tells us to. For some, this is a possibility; for me, it was not.
I found a type of ambiguity to my expression.
I have always felt as though my concept of gender has been flawed. It’s always just a step too far away for me to grasp and so, after many years of attempting to understand it, I just gave up and became happy with not knowing. This, in itself, helped me realise that it’s okay to view my gender as fluid, as something that is always changing, or that doesn’t always exist. This experience is somewhat unique and although people may not completely understand it, it is mine, and that makes it true, and authentic.