What Identifying As Non-Binary Means
Start writing a post
Identities

Being Non-Binary Was Not My Choice, And I Wouldn't Change It Even If It Was

My gender is not a choice, but I wouldn't change it even if I could.

14508
Being Non-Binary Was Not My Choice, And I Wouldn't Change It Even If It Was

When I was born, the doctor checked one of two boxes on my birth certificate. I was assigned an "F." What was once just a letter became a symbol for my gender category in the world. Female. Girl. Woman. It was more than being sorted based on biology, it was a determinate for how I would be seen by the world and for how I was meant to see myself. It was about what clothes I would wear, what pronouns I would use, what kind of name I had, and what I would look like. This happens to all of us and, for the most part, it works out OK. We're able to squeeze ourselves into one box or the other, feeling comfortable in whatever label we were given. A waitress calls us "ma'am," and it feels right.

As Pride Month 2019 kicks off, I want to talk about what it's like when that assigned letter doesn't work out. Almost every aspect of life exists on a broad spectrum, and gender is no different. Sometimes, the gap between how you feel and how you are seen becomes too large to consolidate. It starts to leave a sick feeling in your stomach. Suddenly, it is clear as day that all the people in your life are only seeing half of you, and on some days, even less. There are days when you can't even look in the mirror because you don't recognize yourself either. The feeling isn't always new, but rather like noticing an old ache you've grown very used to. I once read an analogy that went a little like this: Gender is like a bone in our body. We don't feel it unless something's wrong. We can feel when there's a disconnect, a break, a gap. Unlike a real bone injury, it's not a bad or harmful thing, but it can still cause us pain.

I started to seriously question my gender when I was 15 years old.

I felt misplaced among a group of women, like I was an outsider who just happened to be there. I felt a twinge when addressed as my birth name, which is a very feminine one. The older I got, the worse these things began to feel. The first time I met one of my best friends, she asked me for my pronouns, and answering "she or her" felt like telling half the story.

When I put on my costume suit for Mary Poppins my junior year of theatre, I looked in the mirror and finally recognized myself. I started to check "other" in gender categories on surveys and exams. I began a life-long process of self-acceptance over something I'd always known deep down. I was not a woman, but I was not a man. I was kind of both, kind of neither. I fell somewhere in the middle, feeling a partial sense of belonging among the traditional binary gender categories, but whole in my very own right.

After over four years of trying out different sets of pronouns, clothing styles, haircuts, and even first names, I feel that I've finally found the language and presentation to exist in the world as who I am inside.

It was all trial and error, and at times it was exhausting and discouraging. I am beyond grateful for the people in my life who gave me unconditional love and acceptance throughout a process that, in a way, will always be ongoing.

If I were to describe my gender, I would say I'm a blend of woman and neutrality, with the latter dominating most days, including a fluid experience of maleness that comes and goes. The separation between who I am inside and how I was perceived motivated me to come out. I socially changed my first name to something comfortable, familiar, and more neutral than what it was before. When people use a mixture of pronouns for me and call me by my chosen name, I feel fully seen. When I can dress and identify in a way that acknowledges the expanse of my gender, I feel that the truest version of me is able to exist.

The national conversation on trans rights often paints gender liberation as the final frontier in terms of queer acceptance. There is lots of controversy and opinion about the spectrum of gender, the debate about whether it's a spectrum at all. The truth is, 7.5 billion people falling into only two categories makes very little sense. Many cultures around the world acknowledge a third gender and beyond, including lots of indigenous tribes. I believe the American culture has yet to catch up and open our minds about the complexity that comes with being human.

I can assure you that the experience of being non-binary is an extremely real one.

I, and so many others, are living it every day. It is not a choice, but if it were, I think I'd choose it anyway. There is something beautiful about containing multitudes, about being fluid in my identity and having such a unique perspective. I am not ashamed to live outside the box. I feel free from the constraints of gender roles, of our cis-normative world. There are so many joys in being who I am regardless of what other people think. After all, at the end of the day, how I identify and present myself is about my comfort.

By now, I have a pretty good sense of what makes me feel happy. I love cheesy sitcoms from the early 2000s, I love smoothies that are blended perfectly, I love bad EDM music and writing poetry. I also love being non-binary. It's a part of me that captures my personal experience living in our heavily gendered world. Questioning and experimenting with your gender takes some easing into, but ultimately it's a form of self-exploration, and that's such an important thing (even if, in the end, you decide you're comfortable as your assigned gender). While we're all on our own personal journeys of finding who we are, let's practice love and patience with others and ourselves. Let's respect one another. Let's listen to the unique perspectives we all have to offer. Let's introduce ourselves from a place of authenticity and confidence.

Hi, my name is Jules. My pronouns are she/her and they/them. I am non-binary and proud.

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

Sex And The Church

A letter to fellow believers.

175
Amanda Hayes

I know many of you just read that title and thought it was scandalous to see something so “risque” in the same setting as something holy. Well guess what – sex is part of that. Everyone seems to think they are separate, which makes since because most people treat them as though they are complete polar opposites. Shall we think this through?

Keep Reading... Show less
Tumblr

Chick-fil-A, I love you.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

An open letter to my father

What you did sounds dumb to me

1886
An open letter to my father
The Truth About My Parents' Divorce

Considering im 18 now & you're one of the best men i've ever met since you have a child; me. I want you to know that I love you, more than anyone, I love you. I don't forgive you for the way you hurt my mother. I'm hurt because you broke our family. Thing went down hill the day you found Laquita. You we're distant & shortly after my mother turned into the coldest, saddest women to walk past me. She's my best friend & so are you. Not one day goes by where I don't wonder what she did wrong. How on earth could you trade your family & the women who loved you unconditionally for a home wrecker? Sounds dumb to me.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Is God Reckless?

Exploring the controversy behind the popular worship song "Reckless Love"

2494
Is God Reckless?


First things first I do not agree with people getting so caught up in the specific theology of a song that they forget who they are singing the song to. I normally don't pay attention to negative things that people say about worship music, but the things that people were saying caught my attention. For example, that the song was not biblical and should not be sung in churches. Worship was created to glorify God, and not to argue over what kind of theology the artist used to write the song. I was not made aware of the controversy surrounding the popular song "Reckless Love" by Cory Asbury until about a week ago, but now that I am aware this is what I have concluded.The controversy surrounding the song is how the term reckless is used to describe God's love. This is the statement that Cory Asbury released after many people questioned his theology regarding his lyrics. I think that by trying to clarify what the song was saying he added to the confusion behind the controversy.This is what he had to say,
"Many have asked me for clarity on the phrase, "reckless love". Many have wondered why I'd use a "negative" word to describe God. I've taken some time to write out my thoughts here. I hope it brings answers to your questions. But more than that, I hope it brings you into an encounter with the wildness of His love.When I use the phrase, "the reckless love of God", I'm not saying that God Himself is reckless. I am, however, saying that the way He loves, is in many regards, quite so. What I mean is this: He is utterly unconcerned with the consequences of His actions with regards to His own safety, comfort, and well-being. His love isn't crafty or slick. It's not cunning or shrewd. In fact, all things considered, it's quite childlike, and might I even suggest, sometimes downright ridiculous. His love bankrupted heaven for you. His love doesn't consider Himself first. His love isn't selfish or self-serving. He doesn't wonder what He'll gain or lose by putting Himself out there. He simply gives Himself away on the off-chance that one of us might look back at Him and offer ourselves in return.His love leaves the ninety-nine to find the one every time."
Some people are arguing that song is biblical because it makes reference to the scripture from Matthew 28:12-14 and Luke 15. Both of these scriptures talk about the parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd. The shepherd symbolizes God and the lost sheep are people that do not have a relationship with God. On the other hand some people are arguing that using the term reckless, referring to God's character is heretical and not biblical. I found two articles that discuss the controversy about the song.The first article is called, "Reckless Love" By Cory Asbury - "Song Meaning, Review, and Worship Leading Tips." The writer of the article, Jake Gosselin argues that people are "Making a mountain out of a molehill" and that the argument is foolish. The second article, "God's Love is not Reckless, Contrary to What You Might Sing" by author Andrew Gabriel argues that using the term reckless is irresponsible and that you cannot separate Gods character traits from God himself. For example, saying that God's love is reckless could also be argued that God himself is reckless. Reckless is typically not a word that someone would use to describe God and his love for us. The term reckless is defined as (of a person or their actions) without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action. However, Cory Asbury is not talking about a person, he is talking about God's passionate and relentless pursuit of the lost. While I would not have chosen the word reckless, I understand what he was trying to communicate through the song. Down below I have linked two articles that might be helpful if you are interested in reading more about the controversy.


Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Signs You Grew Up In A Small Town

Whether you admit it or not, that tiny town will always have your heart.

2039
The Odyssey

1. You still talk to people that you went to elementary school with.

These are the people you grew up with and the people you graduated high school with. The faces you see in kindergarten are the same faces you’ll see for the rest of your life.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments