Last week, I was discussing personal experiences of misogyny on the internet and how I handle it. While women were specifically mentioned, I also took care to be inclusive to non-binary people who are also subjected to this treatment. This may primarily be because, on a blog promoting inclusivity, I don’t want to be exclusive. However, a large part of this was also because of my own personal identity; I’m non-binary (surprise!).
From a very early age, I never fit in with the girls, yet I wasn’t strictly a tomboy either. I played with Barbie dolls and teddies, but I also loved my wooden train set and Lego. I liked some dresses and to have my nails painted, but also liked to wear clothes that made people grumble about my boyish appearance. As I grew older, I enjoyed karaoke and online dress-up games, but I also liked my racing games. When asked what instrument I wanted to play, while I had some interest in the piano, it was primarily drumming that made me excited about learning music.
At the time I thought there were boys and there were girls. I knew someone could be transgender but knew that while I didn’t exactly fit in with the girls, I didn’t want to be a boy either. Yet again, a lack of understanding of the true complexity of gender lead me to just accept I wasn’t like most girls and that was it, like it or not.
For a very long time, I thought my issues with my gender identity stemmed from sexism, with women being typically portrayed as liking some things which I didn’t, and disliking things which I did. However, while sexism remains rampant, these stereotypes are breaking down, and it still didn’t feel right being referred to as a woman.
When I came out as bisexual a few years ago, the first seeds of suspicion had been planted months beforehand, there was a long period of introspection, and then suddenly something made the penny drop. It appears that the pattern repeated itself; a good friend of mine came out as non-binary which planted the seed, and several months later some Twitter shenanigans made the penny drop. I finally realised I was non-binary.
My experience of gender could most closely be described as bi-gender or perhaps gender fluid; essentially my gender goes from more feminine to more masculine, often falling in the centre. This differs from gender flux, which is when a particular gender identity is felt more or less strongly, and indeed some people are a combination of both gender fluid and flux (referred to as fluid-flux). Since I tend to feel gender identities that range across the spectrum quite strongly, but most of the time feel both feminine an masculine at the same time, bi-gender would be the most accurate of the specific labels, (although I still prefer just non-binary). Some days I want to wear dresses and heels and be as feminine as you could imagine, and other days I want to wear clothes from the men’s section. The rest of the time I put on clothes that, if you didn’t look at the label, could easily be from any section.
Will I be changing my name? It took some time, but eventually I decided to.
Will I change my title? I discovered the title Mxs, a combination of the non-binary title Mx that still highlighted my marriage status, something I like.
Will I change my pronouns? Kinda. I like they, but she, he, or oi you are fine by me too.
Will I change what I wear? No. Having dug through my wardrobe there are only one or two very minor tweaks to make. For every dress is a top from the men’s section, and the rest is fairly androgynous. While not intentional, it hardly feels like a happy coincidence that my wardrobe matches the identity I hadn’t yet settled upon.
I know full well that some people think non-binary genders are just pandering to fussy people who don’t like labels, and that if we woke up and decided to identify as an elephant we would (screw you, Piers Morgan). The truth of the matter is it is none of your business policing whether someone’s genitals match their pronouns, and we all deserve to feel comfortable in our own skin.
That being said, the non-binary nature of gender is a strange and often new concept for some people, so some scepticism is understandable. However, research dating back over a decade supports the idea of a gender spectrum, so people are going to have to get used to it at some point. It is difficult to understand when the idea of a gender binary is so deeply ingrained into history and culture, but beyond traditionally sharing certain physiological matters (and even then, that’s not always a given), the definition of man or woman is quite arbitrary. That’s why, providing people are respectful of course, I’d be happy to answer questions.
Think about it this way; you might not understand how cancer develops, but cancer still exists nonetheless. You might not understand how an aeroplane flies, but it still flies. I would never ask someone to understand my identity, but to deny it exists altogether is like denying that the world is round; ridiculous, but for some reason some people are still clinging on to the idea.
If you want to learn more about gender-identity, here are some useful websites to look at: