I've come out multiple times; a few for my sexuality, and most recently I came out as gender-fluid.
Webster defines the fluidity of gender as a person whose gender identity is not fixed. It might be the English major in me, but I figured when I came out that even if someone didn't know what that meant, it was pretty easy to deduce from the word "fluid" itself.
Boy, was I wrong.
Similar to how I felt when I first started exploring my sexuality and came out as bi, I didn't expect to get a lot of hatred, ignorance, and discrimination for it. My thinking while identifying as bisexual was that I still had a little "straight" in me, and as a gender-fluid person I still had a little "cisgender girl" in me, so surely people wouldn't have that big of an issue with either.
I can only blame myself for still being shocked at people's reactions to my newfound identity.
Thankfully, unlike my brief period thinking I was bisexual, I was met with more pure ignorance than disrespect. Now almost a year later, it's still painfully clear that people just don't know what to do with that information once they find out. So, I feel that it's my duty to share my experience and what gender-fluidity means to me.
It started off really basic in terms of LGBT+ ah-ha moments. For upwards of six months, I thought that I was a binary-trans man. By that, I mean that I felt that I had been born into the wrong body, appearing as a girl but that I was actually a man.
The gender binary is a term used to describe the spectrum that exists between being strictly male and female. Because this "A or B" mentality was my only understanding of being transgender, I felt that the only answer to how I was feeling was that I was actually a "B" after all.
I felt like an alien in my own body, hated any signs that gave away my femininity and seriously looked into the options for medical transition. I was so sure that I was a man, I marveled at the fact that it hadn't been obvious to me my whole life. I had periods growing up where I was a "tomboy" and wanted to be called Ken instead of Kennedy as early as 6-years-old, so it was easy to gloss over the times where I loved my curves and tried fruitlessly to learn how to do makeup.
In hindsight, the reason I didn't know the whole time was obvious. I grew up in a Christian family with traditional values, so I grew up utterly ignorant to all people different than me, not just the LGBTQ+ ones. I was so sheltered I just figured everyone felt like I did, so I barely registered it—it was just a regular aspect of being a "girl".
In fact, I was just as hypocritical as the rest: stubbornly homophobic and transphobic of the people I was sure would burn in hell, while my instincts told me that being gay didn't make someone a monster and literally saying I only supported "transgender people who were born into the wrong body".
Big face-palm, I know. But, thankfully, my proximity with the queer community through my gay-side brought me leaps and bounds from that young kid that swallowed everything their parents told them without question.
Unfortunately, I still had no idea what was going on when I made that first conscious shift as a self-aware adult. Then after the initial stent of being definitely male, it started to get even more complicated. I was just coming out of a severe depressive episode, so this hatred for myself was intensified ten-fold, and because of that, I ceased to feel like anything. My gender was mud, and all I could focus on was existing.
It took a while to recover from that, but over time I revisited my journey through gender, aided heavily by Instagram in the true way of the queers. I started following all the LGBTQ+ people I could merely out of pride for my community, but there I began to learn about non-binary and gender-queer people.
Frequent stars of my work with Odyssey, Jacob Tobia, Chella Man and Rin Rodriguez (who also goes by their internet name Gothfruits), were my biggest influences. Through their example I finally realized I wasn't limited to just "A" and "B" anymore.
Once I discovered there was a world beyond the gender binary—and after a lot of time, effort and googling—I learned about gender-fluidity, coming out to myself the day before my first Pride parade.
Even if you aren't queer, I think that journey to understanding is something anyone can undertake and benefit from. But needless to say, that realization brought a lot of relief and even more questions.
For a while, though I didn't know what to do, so I just lived with the dysphoria.
However, once I explored with my style, pronouns, and social habits, I've reached a comfortable understanding of it and how I apply it to myself. Essentially, I spend varying times being purely a man, purely a woman, sometimes non-binary (AKA, neither) and sometimes a mixture of one or more of these.
That can be a bit of a mouth full—especially to someone who doesn't have any understanding of gender—but I'm happy to communicate it if someone is willing to listen. Thankfully, I've been able to come up with a simile that's a little more simple and easy to understand.
To me, the shifts between my gender are almost as if your favorite color were to change regularly and unexpectedly. Mildly interesting to yourself, and the only thing it changes for people you interact with is in the clothes you wear. However, it's obviously a little more complicated than that.
Though confusing and overwhelming at times, it's gotten to the point where I'm not only comfortable in my own skin, but I feel extremely sexy because of my identity. The way I see it, I have a little bit of something for everyone. In the words of my mom Jacob Tobia, "gender is play"; I love being a fabulous femme on my girl days and a pretty boy on my man days.
However, as any trans person knows, being trans is far from fun.
Ironically, most of the discrimination I encounter is from binary-trans folks who are, of course, ignorant of what it means to have an identity that falls under the non-binary umbrella and isn't permanent. Though this doesn't reflect the thoughts of all binary-trans people, it is a divide in the community I've become acquainted with in the worst ways.
Worse, though, is the dysphoria that comes from the inside. My identity allows me to be playful in my dress, actions, and ways of thinking. Although, there are still days where the dysphoria makes me not even want to leave my bed, let alone face the eyes of the world. Those days I don't want to look in the mirror, bind my chest to look less like my sex and unconsciously try to lower my voice a few octaves to strangers.
It's a strange parallel to exist in. From my cynical side, in the words of the lovely Leslie Knope, there are times where I feel like its all bad because I'll never be 100% satisfied with myself. On the other hand, most of my trans siblings live with dysphoria every day, only finding relief after a long and difficult journey, so I try and count myself lucky for my part-time qualms.
This only scrapes the surface of what it means to be gender-fluid, but it's certainly a start for anyone who is totally unaware of this identity. Therefore, I hope my experience answers some questions for some readers whether you're questioning your gender or not, or at least sparked your interest in transgender lives a bit.