Problems with looking “binary”

Problems with looking “binary”

Note: Sorry for being off the grid, I have been very busy with work and have barely time for myself these days. Decided to buckle down and write something to remove this writer’s block.

For a long time since I started my transition (medical and otherwise), I was presenting as a transgender man. Growing up in your standard Latinx family, gender was strictly enforced – I had to wear makeup, dresses, you name it.While not necessarily hating it, I didn’t feel comfortable and, if you ever met me during these years before my self-discovery, you could see it plain as day. When I started to go through this major identity overhaul, I flipped the switch and started doing things that men were expected to do. It all went well for a while until I found myself stuck with the same problem that I did when presenting as female. Did I really hate being female or was it something else?

Pretty soon, I concluded that my gender wasn’t the problem but the whole concept of gender itself. I felt so limited when people take a glance at me, automatically register me as male and assume that I am on top of the latest sports news. It didn’t help when my dad would randomly ask me about the Superbowl only for me to tell him that I’m still not interested in football and that isn’t likely to change. I didn’t want to feel limited anymore and that’s what I found gender to be: limiting and oversimplifying. Even within the transgender community, I would shake my head when people would post about needing to be “man up” and “stop being such a b****”. We don’t need to be anything or prove anything to nobody,regardless of how we identify.

Unlike being a transgender man, being nonbinary was like a breath of fresh air. I wasn’t expected to be anything. I no longer felt compelled to live up to gender expectations. I have, metaphorically speaking, escaped Plato’s cave and discovered the knowledge that there aren’t only two genders.

After careful consideration, I started to go by they/them pronouns instead and felt right at home. That is, when I heard them. Only a few people were able to pick up on the pronoun change quick enough while others either didn’t know (stealth with coworkers and family), are still adjusting or just never asked what my pronouns were. Cisgender people, those that I  encounter in everyday life, would refer to me with he/him pronouns and I wouldn’t bat an eye.  Running a transmasculine group, I’ve made many friends  who would not only never ask what my pronouns are, but assume that I use he/him or forget that I use they/them simply because I look so “masculine”. I would correct people and while most people apologize, I know this is going to continue to happen until I do something like shave off my facial hair or do more feminine things in order to be taken more seriously as nonbinary.

Despite identifying as nonbinary transmasculine , I still recognize that the gender binary is still an integral part of society. Not to say that I think its right, I very much want to change that but I acknowledge that it exists and that it’s drilled into us since we were little. While identifying as nonbinary has been liberating, the nonbinary umbrella still has its own set of problems because most people (who know about it, that is) associate it with people looking androgynous to keep people guessing what their gender is or their gender fluctuates. While those identities exist and are valid, I don’t fall under either of those.

Just like transgender people, nonbinary people can look like anything.

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