I came out as non-binary in mid-2018. My coming out was the result of a lot of reflection, soul-searching and talking to transgender autistic friends. I actually came out on Facebook before I told friends and family! It didn’t seem odd at the time because I live my life on social media possibly more than I do in the ‘real’ world. For at least three months after I came out I felt like dancing down the street. It was a complete liberation. I loved my new affirmed identity and felt like I could finally be myself after years of feeling something was not quite right about my identity. I am non-binary and transgender as I transitioned from being assigned female at birth to non-binary. I am a very proud trans person. I am also asexual and I should point out that while many people conflate gender and sexuality they are in fact wrong. Gender identity and expression and sexuality are very seperate things.
Shortly after I came out I was subjected to a lot of bigotry. I posted a coming out video series on Youtube and one of the posts attracted apparently every single trans[phobic bully on the internet – or it felt like it anyway! I had people offering support and affirmation but I also had people who were filled with hate and bigotry. It seemed like every time I posted on gender someone would attack me. It took a few months to excise all the bigots from my social media but things are pretty good now. I hate closets and refuse to be closeted as a non-binary person. Closets are dark and scary and exclusionary. I am very proud of who I am. Recently I was in a mental health residential services and one of my fellow residents was very transphobic. Knowing I would be attacked I stood up to this person. It was really hard and there were many very unpleasant exchanges but I was true to myself. My dad recently said I am visibly happier since I came out. He was right, I am. It can be very frustrating being transgender as a lot of people are bigoted or respond with micro aggressions but I feel it is worth it.
I want to talk about some issues around gender diversity and being out. The first is misgendering. Misgendering is when a person uses the wrong pronouns or uses your ‘dead name’. This happens all the time. In my experience pretty much everyone gets it wrong and often repeatedly. I have a few friends who have never misgendered me but I have had a lot more friends and colleagues who do it every single time. Mostly this relates to my pronouns as not a lot of people in my world knew me under my dead name. Misgendering is a form of invalidation. I always liken it to a person telling you their name is Frank and you saying “I don’t think you are a Frank. I think you are a Lisa so I will cal you Lisa’. Frustrating and invalidating! And when people doing the misgendering make it about themselves that is extremely difficult. People saying ‘They is not a singular pronoun’ or ‘that’s too hard’ absolutely infuriate me. If people get it wrong by accident I am not too bothered especially if they knew me before I transitioned but when it is intentional that is not ever OK. It really doesn’t take that much effort to get it right and is demonstrates respect and inclusion.
Another issue is assumptions. The number of times I get called a ‘lady’ or ‘girl’ is very large indeed and it always bothers me. I am not a lady, I am a person or a human. People make assumptions about gender identity based on what someone looks like. You should never do that. A person’s gender expression (ie how they dress) and gender identity (ie how they identify in terms of their gender) can be vastly different. I was talking with a trans friend and complaining that I am always mistaken for a woman and maybe my expression was too feminine and they responded that they only wear ‘masculine’ gendered clothes and they still get misgendered as female. The assumptions are really not OK. Never assume someone’s gender based on how they dress or wear their hair or other physical characteristics.
Another issue which I have touched on is transphobia and bigotry. This is everywhere and is not ever OK. It is dangerous and threatens people’s mental health and wellbeing. I think most transgender people have been subjected to bigotry at one time or another. For some people who are visibly ‘different’ this can mean random violence and aggression from strangers. For people like me whose expression is slightly androgynous we tend to get less random aggression when we are out in the world but we get attacked when we tell people that we are trans. It seems that gender diversity is an area where the bigots are pretty insistent and often fuelled by religious beliefs. Note to bigots: There is nothing in the Bible about transgender people and even if there was it was written 2000 years ago! Bigotry is dangerous and everyone has the right to live their life are from hatred.
In conclusion I love being transgender and non-binary. I am the truest version of me and that is a good thing. I wish I knew my identity years ago. It’s funny because nobody has ever responded with ‘You’re non-binary Yenn? Surely not!” My identity fits me and is like a warm inclusive hug. Being my transgender non-binary self is awesome.