For 18 years, I identified as female. Through and through.
I considered myself a “girly-girl.” Womanhood was the core of my identity. No ifs, ands or buts about it.
But as I grew older and developed more of my personality, I started to feel like I was forcing myself to be a girl. It was like I was putting on an overly feminine performance to attract attention and to please my family, because it was easier to be a woman than it was to even consider the possibility that I may be nonbinary.
When I got to college, I met more gender-nonconforming individuals than I ever had before. The thought became louder and louder in my head. Maybe I wasn’t as much of a girl as I thought. Maybe I have no real ties to the idea of “girlhood.” Maybe this thing that I’ve spent so long pushing onto myself isn’t actually who I am.
So, this summer, after a lot of thought, I came out as nonbinary and changed my pronouns to she/they. I kept the she in there so that close-minded people can continue to make assumptions based on my appearance, and I still feel like I have a level of control over it.
I told my close friends, and a lot of them were happy for me. I was excited. I instantly felt more comfortable with myself. Saying outloud “I’m nonbinary” felt more right than anytime I said “I’m a girl.”
Now I’ll admit, it’s a confusing subject, and I still don’t fully understand my gender identity. But I’ve found that I don’t need to. I know I’m more comfortable and feel more like myself this way. So who cares if I don’t fully understand it, or if I can’t explain it very well?
But it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. I never fully prepared myself for the close-minded people — the ones who don’t understand and don’t want to.
The blatantly disrespectful people.
I didn’t consider that even in 2022, after years of nonbinary people being out and open about their gender identities, there’s still people out there that just don’t care. The “there’s only two genders!” folks, the “you have a vagina, therefore you’re a girl!” people.
I’ve encountered people who think this way. It caught me off guard. Honestly, I didn’t think anyone I associated myself with would think that way. But they did.
I don’t know how to defend my own gender identity, but I shouldn’t have to.
Frankly, I don’t care if you don’t understand the concept of identifying as nonbinary, nor is it my responsibility to teach you. But it is my responsibility to address disrespect. And with that I say: grow up. Respect other human beings, whether you agree with them or not, and whether you understand them or not.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to be kind, but it does take a lot of effort to go out of your way to be needlessly rude.
Disrespecting and discrediting the struggles of gender-queer or gender-nonconforming individuals doesn’t accomplish anything. It just makes you look ignorant.
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