uhhh, hi. turns out i’m non-binary (again) 🙃
i first identified as non-binary about five years ago, when i first started transitioning. back then it was pretty different, it was more of a “i have no idea what’s going on, but i hate the idea of being a man, i don’t know if i wanna be a woman, but i definitely don’t wanna be a man”.
today it’s something else entirely, and probably not a final step at all, but i feel like it needs some explaining. in a lot of ways this has felt more difficult than coming out as trans in the first place, or any of the junctions in the he/him->they/them->she/her->she/they pipeline for that matter.
i guess the thing i’ve been struggling with, and if you know me well you’ll have heard me whinge about it, is that in order for me to get the barest of minimums of respect as a trans person in public, to ever have the slightest chance of being gendered as a woman by a stranger, i’ve felt i’ve had to perform a kind of rigid, conformist femininity that was never what i really wanted anyway. i’m a lesbian, i wanna be a dykey tomboy femme, but any time i leave the house in a hoodie and tights (or anything less obvious than a long flowing dress and full makeup) i get destroyed by misgendering.
this is probably a decent moment at which to point out that i do not pass, and have no interest in passing. my voice is deep and rough, and i do not give a fuck. i will never do voice training, i will never let the cop in my head rule, i like my voice and if it bothers transphobes then that’s their problem and not mine. that said, my voice is not my ally, and leads to a lot of the most hurtful instances of misgendering possible (usually someone gendering me correctly, me opening my mouth and them falling over themselves apologising for thinking i was a woman).
i recently accidentally destroyed all backups of my artwork going back the last 8 years or so, back to my uni days. i’d lost it all, and the other night i remembered an old vimeo account that probably had some of it left. i tracked it down, and the bio read simply “they/them”.
i nostalgically watched an old video of me playing a backyard noise gig with a mate in preston, i was skinny and 25, wearing a sonic youth tshirt and obviously in so much pain. that was at least a year before i’d come out to myself.
something about the “they/them” bio hit me hard, it was cold, resolute, a demand more than a request, and described absolutely nothing about me besides the fact that i don’t belong in the gender binary.
i think the thing that is most difficult is the perception, from the outside, that i’m moving backwards, becoming more masc, admitting that i’m partly “man”. that is not at all what i want, that’s not what i’m doing, and even writing this down i feel defensive and argumentative. i am not ceding the territory of woman to the transphobes and fascists who claim i’m an invader. i can be nonbinary and a trans woman at the same time. which is to say, i’m coming out as nonbinary because i fucking hate the strictures of cisnormativity. my gender is sloppy trans dyke, and i can’t keep letting straight, cis people determine that it should be anything else than that.
i have never had any sense of gender euphoria out of they/them. in fact, one of the things that made me realise that i wanted to be a woman, and that i wanted to takes hormones and grow tits and such, was the intense joy i felt when people would say “hey girls” or similar to me and my gf when i was first running around in dresses and lipstick. even since i’ve recently rediscovered that i’m nonbinary, a lady at the chemist, giving away a freebie, asking “are you a hairbrush girl or a makeup girl”? or people in the union calling me “caucus mum”? these things make my heart explode!
which opens a whole new can of worms, because often transmisogynists will go out of their way to give trans women theys and thems, as means of acknowledging gender non-conformity, while denying womanhood. and i really don’t get any joy from being called they or them. all the same, it’s a part of me, it’s a part of me that when i saw my old vimeo account i’d realised had been banished. banished out of fear because of how cis people might treat me.
well fuck that for a joke.
(again, (and again))
i was raised in a christian fundamentalist household, jehovah’s witnesses to be specific. i was taught to be viciously homophobic. what a weird thing it was to discover once i started masturbating that i really like anal penetration. in grade 9 or so i found out a boy had a crush on me, he was like, one of two openly gay guys at my highschool in small-town tasmania in the mid 2000’s. we were having a piss-up at my friends’ place, and it came up (i probably brought it up), and i said that i might visit him, that i might try sleeping with a boy! that i might be bi!
i never hooked up with that guy, but i kept the identity of “bisexual”, drunkenly making out with boys from time to time as a teen, by the time i moved out of home i ended up having kind of a fling with a guy, a couple of hookups with another guy. but you know what? i wasn’t that into it. i didn’t really like sleeping with men, it really wasn’t my speed. but i kept the identity of “bisexual”.
and i guess it was a lot like 5 years ago, when i first identified as nonbinary, not so much affirmatively “yes i’m bi” but more, “no i’m not straight”.
i ended up moving to narrm, found myself in an abusive relationship, isolated, in poverty, a world of two people: me and my omnipotent gf. she was intensely jealous, and would often question my manhood whenever i was insufficiently sexually available, or vulnerable, or just y’know useless at man stuff like tools and shit. once i was bashed and mugged by three guys, ended up in hospital, she asked “what kind of a man are you not to fight back?”
i stopped being bisexual.
thankfully she left me eventually, and gradually i remembered how i used to love getting about in tiny jeans, how often i’d dress up in girls’ clothes at parties “as a joke”, how often i’d just wear girls’ clothes because i liked them. i was always stealing coats and tops and cute shit off my girlfriends. i remembered the joy of being effeminate. i felt myself walking along cardigan st one day loosening up, allowing my hips to move as i walked, allowing me to actually like parts of my body.
i still wasn’t bisexual, but now i was nonbinary, and that move towards acceptance, that dropping of defences, that abolition of a lifetime of mental policing. best thing i’ve ever done for myself.
and this is why i say again, (and again) because coming out happens so many times. i’ve been on hrt for 4 years now, i’m still figuring myself out. when i was in highschool i didn’t have the word “nonbinary”. when i was 25 i didn’t know the power of allowing myself to be a woman. today i’m proud to say i am nonbinary, that i’ve decided to let myself be more myself, and to seek happiness. i hope it happens every 5 years or so for the rest of my life.
where to from here?
the funniest thing is nothing really changes for me, i update a couple of bios, my email signatures, and i’m done! i still want bottom surgery, i still want ffs, i still wanna be called a “good girl” in bed, i still wanna get around town in little dresses that show off my tits. in many ways it’s kinda just a label. but it’s also a lot more than that. my partner asked me the other day if i felt more relaxed? and yeah, i think i do. i’m allowing myself to see myself, and it’s so fucking good for me.