My Relationship With Gender

So I recently came out as nonbinary. Changed my pronouns to He/They because after lots of talks with friends who also fall outside cis/het norms on the spectrum, I started to resonate pretty strongly with the concept. To explain, I’d call it a 60/40 split. Sixty percent of the time I wake up, look in the mirror and say “yeah I feel like a guy,” and then the other forty percent I either don’t feel masculine or I don’t have any thoughts in relation to my gender because my brain just… doesn’t feel like I’m more than a vaguely human shaped blob.

I’m also most likely on the ADHD/autistic spectrum based on my own research, and that changes how I prioritize information. So sometimes, if the way I present myself isn’t prioritized in my head, I won’t even clock feeling any strong way about my representation on a given day. It’s probably accurate to say that forty percent of the time I’m gender apathetic.

My attachment to masculinity has, largely, been constructed by others throughout my life and observed as something that would help me keep my head down and not cause problems. Outside of a masking and self defense mechanism, I have no attachment to my gender except in the occasional moments where I enjoy how I look. I started experimenting with pronouns and considering that I’m nonbinary because of that feeling of faking who I was.

I thought coming out as nonbinary (or my earlier coming out as bisexual) and joining the LGBTQIA+ community would mean that some of that feeling would go away, or that I could at least drop the shields around folks and be myself more thoroughly. I was kinda wrong.

I’ve found some wonderful and accepting friends whom I’m comfortable with about this. But the broader community is still a big question of safety to me. I see the biphobia and, recently, I also see people saying that unless I appear androgynous I’m not nonbinary enough, and as someone who only recently came to these realizations, all of a sudden I feel like I’m having to hide myself behind the general label of “queer,” the same way I used to hide myself behind and within masculinity. I’m having to protect myself against people who are supposed to be my own community because they feel they have some kind of misguided entitlement to dictate to me what my relationship with gender and how I present myself should be.

I’m having to mask myself to other LGBTQIA+ folks because they can’t seem to understand that how I outwardly represent myself isn’t the sole way I define my relationship to my gender. And ultimately all that happens when they say I’m not (x) enough, is that my relationship to my gender goes from something I get to decide and set boundaries for, to something centered on how I appear and behave in relationship to others. My identity, that I chose for myself based on what was comfortable to me, becomes centered on others.

 

One last thing. I don’t need to be told that I’m “valid.” I understand the sentiment, but I find the statement from people I don’t know to be placating and somewhat devoid of meaning to me on a personal level. I know I’m valid. What I need is for others to mind their business and stop trying to invalidate me when I’m just trying to exist. I don’t need comforting or external validation, most days I just need the external invalidation to stop so that I have the space to breathe and feel validated within myself and on my own.

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