When I was 16 I had the first direct thought of: "am I trans?"

That wasn't the first time I had realized I wasn't a girl. In fact, in middle school, I had told my friends that I felt more like a gay man than I did a straight woman. In elementary school and even before I didn't enjoy wearing dresses as much as other children did, I much preferred walking around topless and just wearing my spiderman boxers as a toddler. My gender was never quite clear to me, though. My parents just assumed that I was a tomboy and didn't think otherwise.

Tumblr introduced me to a world of terms. Queer, grey ace, demisexual, and so many other terms that I had never really heard before. When I came across drag and then genderfluidity, the idea of dressing like other genders was so fascinating to me. I decided to try it! It began as cosplays, mostly Dean and Castiel from Supernatural. Every time I would do it, however, there was always a discomfort with my chest. It didn't feel right to have the chest that I have. A few months later and a friend gifted me my first binder (a really cheap bad quality one--don't worry though, I got a GC2B binder later). I would go to school with my black binder tank and people seemed confused at first but people soon stopped asking why I was wearing it. Not before long, she/her pronouns started to feel less and less comfortable.

I asked myself if I was a trans man and started going out in public with a beard made of mascara and a tight shirt to show off my binded chest. It was an adrenaline rush stepping outside of my comfort zone in that way, I even got my closest friends to try he/him pronouns on me to see if I liked them! That year I also went to ASPYRE, a camp hosted by the LGBT center of Raleigh, NC and I discovered more people, more genders, and more pronouns. With my binder on in pride, I made more queer friends and got the chance to test out ze/zir pronouns and other ways to style my clothes. The chance to experiment with other LGBT people allowed me to grow and to this day remains one of the best weekends I could have ever had.

College rolled around a few years later. I still had my good binders and would wear them occasionally, but never nearly as much as I had that year. My parents had deterred me from wearing them my senior year and no one knew how to use ze/zir pronouns so I had let the misgendering slide and didn't think about my gender until coming to UNC Asheville. One of my orientation leaders used they/them pronouns and so did many other people that I quickly made friends with. I met more trans non-binary people and realized that I'm not a man, but not a woman either.

I am agender and proud.

It has taken me practically a lifetime to come to such a conclusion but coming to terms with my non-binary identity has helped me tremendously. Still, I struggle with the question of, am I trans enough? I won't wear my binder if it's hot outside because of how uncomfortable it can be. I don't wear a bra most of the time because those aren't comfortable either. I still feel dysphoria from my chest but it's not so bad that I would want top surgery. I don't want bottom surgery. Maybe one day I wouldn't mind taking testosterone and getting a hysterectomy but besides that, I look like many of the girls at my school. I don't call myself trans in public even though I do introduce myself with they/them pronouns now.

Still, the thought lingers that I don't deserve to call myself trans. I've been called slurs like dyke and fag but nothing about my gender. I haven't been threatened or attacked for being trans. But still, non-binary falls under the trans umbrella. The white stripe in the flag even stands for those transitioning, intersex, and non-binary people and yet I feel as though I am overstepping a boundary.

But I am trans. I am transgender no matter what hardships I have or haven't gone through. I am valid in my gender identity no matter how often I am misgendered. Whether my breasts are in a bra or a binder or surgically removed, I am still trans and I will stand by that each and every day.