Exploring My Gender Through Non-Binarism
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Politics and Activism

Exploring My Gender Through Non-Binarism

How accepting my identity as non-binary allowed me to be more feminine.

Exploring My Gender Through Non-Binarism
Non-binary gender wiki page

Recently, I was asked why I am so vehemently opposed to the color pink. My answer was simple, since it's an answer I've had to give many times over the years, "I just have never liked it." The person shrugged, and the answer was good enough for them. But for the first time, it wasn't good enough for me.

I started to actually think about where this level of vitriol came from. It was more than just simple preference. When I see pink, I become angry and disgusted — not at the color itself but what it represents.

The world is presented to children through a binary system of pink and blue before they are even born — sickening pastel cards and gifts during the baby shower, followed by the color of the crib when a doctor thinks they know the gender of an infant, followed by the toys and clothes and bathrooms lined with colored tiles.

I loathed and rejected this system long before I knew what gender was or how to articulate what the system meant. I only knew that I was being forced into a box I didn't want to be in.

Children are told that there are two categories — that one is pink and soft and weak, and one is blue and tough and strong. I hated the fact that I was placed into the former, so I did anything I could to prove that I was good enough for the latter.

I was fortunate enough to have supportive parents that encouraged me to play baseball, climb trees and pursue whatever interests I wanted, as well as a younger brother for whom relatives bought action figures, Legos and castle sets (that I would later either steal or bully him into letting me play with).

But the boys were too rough, too rude and too strong for me to keep up with. Despite being generally accepted by my male friends, I was still seen as the outsider. I was the "tomboy" that was "going through a phase." I thought I wanted to be one of the boys. But it was just because we are only given two options, and I knew I didn't want to be one of the girls. My school encouraged gender equality, but it's difficult to enforce ideas of equality upon children that grew up with their parents and advertisements telling them they are supposed to act a certain way, according to what's between their legs.

It wasn't until the past few years that I discovered that if I didn't want to be one of the girls, I didn't have to be. The realization that I could be my own gender was so freeing in a multitude of ways.

My entire life has been focused on rejecting femininity because I was so desperate to prove to the world that it didn't represent me and who I was. I thought that if I associated myself with anything feminine, it was admitting to the world that I was female.

This discomfort plagued me for years until I read an article that talked about the difference between gender identity and expression. Its main point was that one's gender may or may not match their expression. If it doesn't, that's OK. If it does, that's OK too. If you can't decide if it does, that's still all right.

It was eye-opening for me. I had always thought of gender from an "outside-in" approach — your gender is what the world perceives you as, and that is the gender you feel. This article helped me realize that the inside and the outside are separate. There is the core of your being that includes your gender identity. But there is also an outside layer, your expression, that changes from day to day. People often only see the skin, but it doesn't change the core's composition.

I still cringe when I hear myself included as one of "the girls." I still experience dysphoria, and most of the time I still wish to express myself as more masculine or gender neutral.

But I am comfortable wearing "cute" things; I am comfortable in feminine clothing; I am comfortable using more feminine mannerisms. Because I'm finally able to accept that none of these things make me any more feminine — it only changes how I am expressing myself at that moment in time.

If your gender identity is good enough for you, it is good enough, plain and simple. You don't owe the world an explanation for your gender identity or expression. Your gender expression and your interests do not define your gender identity. Don't let anyone else define it for you.

Whatever your identity and expression happen to be today, it is valid, you are valid and you are enough.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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