What it means, to me, to be non-binary – an eighteen year experience
Scene – it’s 2017, gender and sexual fluidity are accepted throughout Western culture, or we hope. Reality – it’s still taboo for someone to present themselves in a fluid nature. Gender is an ever-changing scope, a constantly shifting mould to break, not a rigid brick house with the bolts across. “What’s so hard to understand?”, we question. Gender isn’t just external presentation: it’s feeling, it’s power and it’s recognition. But the current ‘this-or-that’ posts are symbols of an archaic system – and I, like many others, embody everything outside of what society is rigged against.
Personally, I am a non-binary man-lover. I had this intense, gut-feeling that I am not what is expected of a ‘man’ nor what is expected of a ‘woman’ – the boundaries set up by society didn’t have room for me. I wasn’t one or the other, I was everything in between and everything outside. Some things, culturally, that are masculine weren’t for me, and some things that are feminine weren’t for me.
As a child, I wanted to play with hairdressing sets. I wanted to “fix everything up nice” about my mum’s hair, whilst also loving the outdoors and ‘playing rough’. Not the average 5 year old boy, no? Probably something to do with not being a boy – it just took me so long to really acknowledge this. It takes turmoil, time and tears, but to reach a point of finally being able to physically present and view yourself in a way that helps you feel at ease? It’s worth it.
When it came to high school Physical Education and Maths lessons, there were ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ groups – despite the rest of the school being free in terms of gender – so where did I go for these lessons? I wish it meant I could skip them, (Rugby and algebra were never for me). Instead, I was pushed into this bracket of being a ‘boy’ because I couldn’t control my sex and the gender I was assigned on my birth. Tick in the ‘Male’ box? I want to tick both and I want to tick neither.
Now an adult, I walk around London in unconventional clothing. I break the mould for what’s expected of somebody male-bodied assigned male at birth. I don’t respond to being male in social situations, nor female, as I am neither. My university campus where I’ve just begun my undergraduate course offers gender neutral toilets – a huge subject of debate, but for many people a safe space to use public facilities.
I’m not having a gender crisis. I’m not breaking down. I’m not a pervert. I’m not a kink. I’m not your fetish. I’m not a man in fishnet tights.