"Who taught you how to hate your self?
Who forced you to confide in spell?" - The Hotelier, Life In Drag.
It's a subject I've touched on quite a bit on my twitter, it's a core part of my identity, and yet I've never written a long-form post about it. Perhaps it was fear of what people would say, how they'd look at me differently, the sneers of attention seeker I can see a few people making. Perhaps it was just not knowing what to say, the exact expression, the exact terminology is still something I'm trying to work out.
All I have are a set of pronouns, they/them.
The default when gender is unknown. An umbrella identity: nonbinary. Neither male nor female, but an other. I have occasional bursts of extreme facial hair because some people tell me I can pull it off, marking me as mask. I lack the delicate features and high voice one might attribute to their idea of what androgyny is. I have makeup as a signifier, the black nails, black lipstick and extravagant eye makeup drawing the lines between the New Romantics and the early 00's metalcore scene in Orange County. All I really have is that niggling sensation that I just, don't fit, any of the traditional models of expression.
I came out first to two of my best friends in late January of 2016, gradually to other people here and there, pronouns in the bio, mentioning it in person when I felt safe enough to. It's been an interesting journey, put mildly. Some people have been really chill and accepting of it. Some people were curious but otherwise quite calm about it. Some people have been otherwise grand but repeatedly misgendered me, n sometimes I've bothered correcting them but it almost feels worse, like the way I feel most at ease is an inconvenience.
Existing in the wider world hasn't been a whole lot easier either, here comes the milking of pain for views, bleeding out for clicks. The deluge of transphobia I see on a daily basis, the attack helicopter jokes, the organised lobbying in the United Kingdom trying to drive my community into our graves, pages closer to home posting hate speech dressed as memes, tacitly approved with likes and haha reacts from people I know would never look me in the eyes and say it.
There have been so many times I've been out and about I've genuinely worried for my safety, would I have to fight, would anyone jump in for me or was I an acceptable casualty should that happen for not fitting the role assigned to me. It never stops, and it takes a toll, and sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had taken the "easier" path of just being cis. Why add something else wrong with me in addition to everything else, a repeated thought that often crossed my mind. Yet at the same time, I'm here, I'm doing something I wish I did a long time ago. My name is Mal. My pronouns are they/them. I'm here, and I am valid. There's a set of lyrics i find it fit to close this piece off with,
"For years I hated myself for not feeling adequate, for not feeling like the man I was told to be. I hung on to these notions of masculinity until the shame of not belonging cut holes through my skin.
Take these trembling hands and tell me it’s not all broken, that it’s not all lost. I want to burn as bright as a million stars, free from all the guidelines of how I should feel. I want to burn as bright as a million stars. Fleeting as it may be, steady as our hearts. " - Respire, Anthem For Falling Stars,