I am agender. To those who don’t know, that means I have no gender/gender does not apply to me. I haven’t always known it, but I’ve sort of always felt it.
I’m just me.
As I type, I still use he/him pronouns largely out of familiarity. Honestly, I don’t think I’d be upset to be addressed with any pronouns so long as the other person isn’t being sarcastic/a jerk.
Gender, to me, is like a game. Like a “build your own deck” kind of game, like Magic or Pokémon. Or maybe a quilt if that metaphor works better for you. You see what works for other people, take parts here or there and make it work for you. In this metaphor though, my gender deck is just actually a Magic deck. Or maybe a collection of tea. Or an autumn day when it’s like 50 degrees (10 °C) and you have the window open so you can smell the breeze but you’re warm under a blanket.
If gender was a color spectrum, I am the sound a modem makes when connecting to dial up internet.
I must admit, I like what most folks come up with while playing this game. I love seeing people be their true selves: it really is a thing of beauty. For me, it’s just enough for me to go out into the world and put on the role of “functioning human adult.” I’m sure you would agree that can be quite tiring.
I was assigned male at birth. It didn’t bother me very much to be treated as such (though, I never put much energy in trying to be masculine). Certainly, people had to address me somehow. Female was the only alternative I knew and that didn’t feel like any better of an option. I figured it would just click one day.
That’s just the way things were. It was the 90’s and my parents are baby boomers, so gay was still enough of a fringe topic. The movie “Birdcage” was my introduction to the LGBT+ community, though I’m sure I didn’t understand what the movie was about (or maybe I didn’t understand why people had an issue with the main couple or drag queens? Hard to say, that was 20 years ago). I was never against anything related to the LGBT+ community, but it didn’t seem to apply to me or anyone I knew, so I didn’t spend much time getting more familiar with the subject.
Building who I am came most from media. The white ranger from the Power Rangers movie let me know it was ok for men to have long hair. Glam rock folks showed me it was ok if I wanted to wear make-up or have piercings and I would still be accepted.
As I reached adolescence, I would rankle whenever someone would tell me that I was “secure in my masculinity.” Masculinity was not my goal. In high school, I grew out my hair. In college, I pierced my ears. Both just felt very right to me. At various times in the past decade, I have had to cut my hair or remove my earrings for “professional” reasons and it felt like I had lost a piece of myself.
At some point in high school I remember having a transient fantasy of having a temporary “sex-change.” I grew up with the idea I probably wouldn’t have a stable partner until I had spent a few years as a single adult, so I would have time to experiment before making the big decisions in life. The idea of also having a few months where I did not interact in person with my family was likewise desirable.
The fantasy was to make the transition because I wanted to know how the other half lived. It was, I told myself, scientific curiosity. Apparently that is actually a key part of the transgender experience. In adulthood, I have come to realize it isn’t something I want for myself, at least not in any permanent way. If there were a way to make a full anatomical transition with the ability to go back at the drop of a hat, I’d be tempted. However, change never comes quickly or at least not without great cost, and that is my prime beef with reality. Unfortunately, our bodies are more limited than our brains in the realm of fluidity.
Only in the last five years did I hear about gender-non-conforming and gender fluid. Largely, was still not interested. As far as I knew or cared, I was comfortable enough in my skin, even if I never sought out being “masculine”. One of my friends came out as transgender, and that made me do a little more research into gender as a concept. That led to the topic of “the binary” and that there were, in fact, a bunch of other options under the non-binary umbrella.
About three years ago, at the age of 28, I realized that those things did apply to me. It was freeing, though at the same time it didn’t change much about my habits. After all, this was who I had been all along. The biggest change is that I have had some experiments with make-up, and that is an adventure.
I have seen a great movement towards equity, education and tolerance (and even some acceptance) in my life, and that gives me hope for the future. We can’t ever stop fighting for the world to be better, to be nicer, to be truer. It’s a long way to go and it’s hard work the whole way. Help others. Live fearlessly, not because there aren’t things to fear, but so that others know it is ok to simply live.
Don’t worry if it takes you a long time to understand who you are. Don’t worry if it takes longer to know how you want to express that.
Be the change you wish to see in the world and your ripples will echo out. Be good, my friends.
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