As stereotypical as it sounds, I have pretty much always known that I am not a girl. Or at least, as long as I can easily remember, and I really don’t have very many concrete memories before when I was around eight years old. From what I can remember, I was never as comfortable being a girl, or with most typically feminine things.
From middle through high school stumbling around the internet, I came across trans narratives in a lot of places, and reading these narratives made a lot of the jumble of feelings going around in my head start to make sense. According to my logic at the time, because I wasn’t a girl, I clearly had to be a boy. I identified very strongly as transgender and moreover as male. There were and still are a plethora of resources around for transgender men, and for a long time this seemed an answer to my question of gender, and a very simple answer at that.
I was in search of the magic ‘passing’ for a man, and that goal gave me a guideline on what clothing I should buy and wear, on how I should wear my hair, on how to walk and talk.
As time has gone on and for reasons that I am still working out, the simple answer has proven to be less and less absolute. Part of it probably stems from the multitude of ways that toxic masculinity pressures masculine-identifying people, and a desire that if that is what it means to be male, I don’t want that either. A gender role that is centred around violence and a lack of emotion isn’t what I was going for. Another part of that stems from the fact that while I have gotten to watch many of my friends go through the joy (and often pains) of self-discovery, and getting on hormone replacement therapy and figuring it out, hormones have always been just out of reach for me. I am admittedly a little bitter about the fact that it is quite likely that for health reasons (better discussed in some other post), hormone replacement therapy will never be a viable option for me.
However, the other thing that has happened is that nonbinary gender has become more prominent, and more discussed. This is the direction where my identity has been shifting, and this is the direction where my experience of gender has always been, perhaps.
I get asked a lot of the time, especially by strangers and children, “Are you a boy or a girl?” When I do respond, because sometimes I’m just too busy or not in a mood to engage, the answer flips between yes, and no, and both of those answers feel valid and relevant at the moment. I’m not a girl, but I’m not a boy either, and more importantly, I don’t have to be either one.
It is still difficult most days to figure out what being nonbinary means for me. Trying to figure out whether something makes me look too feminine for me to be comfortable, too masculine, or some Goldilocks balance of ‘just right’. Similarly, I haven’t figured out the sort of effortless confidence that I see from many nonbinary people on the internet, mixing items from clothing typically considered feminine and clothing typically considered masculine without so much as batting an eyelash. But I am slowly managing to be at a point where I feel comfortable wearing lipstick or eyeshadow, or wearing a dress and combat boots.
And being able to say that for at least that moment, I don’t care.