Am I Non-Binary Enough For You Yet?

A while ago, I read "Non-Binary Lives" and I decided that this would be a good opportunity to reflect on my own non-binaryness. Then a few weeks ago, came an author knows an J.K. Rowling, who decided to use her vast platform to discriminate NB folks. So I decided that it was time to use my - albeit small - platform to share what it means to me to call myself non-binary while I do not neatly fit into a cishet's ideas of "looking non-binary".

If I was forced into putting a label on my gender it would be agender. Unlike great stories that come to conclude that they always struggled with gender norms and their assigned gender roles, I never spent a lot of time thinking about my gender. If you don't have one, what is there to think about?
However, there are also environmental, and social aspects that played into this:

One reason is where I grew up: I was born, raised and still live in a German speaking country - a language famous for gendering everything. Even though we have a neutral option, it does not factor in when people are concerned. So being born with a vagina, I was always referred to as a girl, a young lady and what not, and used she/her, sie/ihres, and Miss/Frau.

Another reason is that I was never that much of a young lady. I vividly remember playing in the boy camp during Volksschule, hating skirts, and disliking anything pink. Since I was a girl and my mother is for her generation very feminist, this was never seen as "not acting as a girl" but rather as me giving the male world a middle finger, and extending gender roles as far as it was deemed acceptable.

Thus I lived my life, enjoying the things I liked no matter if they were branded typically masculine or feminine. I like knitting, and can fix your bicycle. I love plants and ride motorbikes. And people became to adore me for this mix, I myself came to adore me for it. I was simply me. I never even thought of an activity as typically gendered, it was just fun and if it was dominated by men, I could barge in in the spirit of "girls rule the world."

At the same time I never thought of my body as much of a female body: It has a vagina, so you take care of it. I have tits because I produce these hormones but I like my body because of the things I can do with it. "You're a pretty girl" has no meaning for me, but "well done in running the course in that time."

I love my body for what it can do and how by being strong I feel strong both physically and mentally. So I tend to barge through life, and despite only being a bit above 160 cm I was told that I radiate so much confidence people I shocked I am only so small.

The turning point for my gender story came when I started a relationship with a woman. This meant that for the first time in my life I was seriously confronted with gender norms. It was always "a same-sex couple" instead of "a couple" and the stereotypes did not fit. She appeared girlier on photos but was taller and a bit wider. Meanwhile I was "manly" but smaller and thinner. It started with looks and ended with which part you are by how you like spooning. And I didn't like it. I did not feel it. I was just me and she was a girl. Since I had no idea what "agender" might be, I thought that it was a same sex relationship, so didn't I have to move closer toward her femininity? And yet, the more I did, the less I felt like myself.

Ironically this was also the first time I openly talked about gender with someone. And one time she dropped the sentence "you define your own womanhood" and I just wondered "my own what? What is there to define?"

I don't define myself through my vagina. I don't define myself through being a woman, a girl, or wearing my hair long. I just happen to have long hair. The idea that I might be non-binary did not quite click yet, because somehow people think that non-binary people also have to look a certain way.

That is until Good Omens aired.This show featured two non-binary/agender angels who both present more as men during the major part of the plot. Still they are non-binary and the internet very much defended this ground. I sat there reading posts and talking to Silver about it and said "that's me."

Suddenly I had a word I could toss around! And what did I do about it?

Pretty much nothing. I didn’t magically change my pronouns because I am used to “she/her” and don’t mind it, and if someone uses “they/them” that’s nice too. I didn’t cut my hair into some butch haircut, instead I kept it long because it grows that way. So from the outside I was still passing as female.
However, the realisation made me more confident about wanting to and finally acting more like myself. Especially in small ways:

I started wearing men's jeans because whatever they are more comfortable and gender is fake. I don’t even bother with push-up bras or bras with cups anymore because I don’t fancy it and I don't want to showcast my boobs. I had always worn them because it is what women do. I started wearing less make-up than I did during my relationship because I liked my face more natural. I tuck my shirts in, and use the phrase “well then I am your man” because for me it is just that, a phrase. Doing all of these things just made me feel like myself. Me, an agender non-binary … well, queen. Because you say “you are the queen” when you rock something.

Sure, there are amazing stories in "Non-Binary Lives" about people who somehow, feel "more non-binary." They change pronouns, face adversaries and difficulties and talk openly about everything. Then there are also people who think that this identifier is fake and we're all confused. After all, I don’t mind being called “Susanne”. I know that it is a female name but for me it is just my full name.

And when someone says something like “oh, I knew it was a good idea to ask you about interior design. After all you are a woman.” I feel a shiver going down my spine and I can’t quite place where it comes from. Because he just saw me as a woman and thus assumed things that he can’t know are true or not? It would bind me to a gender again, and no thank you.

At the same time, I have co-workers who have no idea about my gender. If they assume something about me it usually goes the opposite way. I work in a typical feminine job - P.A. - but was never told that it is because I am a woman. They know I am just me and when I talk to them, I feel that they just see me as me and not as a gender and any assumption.

As long as people don’t base assumption about me on what gender they think they see, I don’t mind if they use “she/her” or use my full name. And maybe that also comes from the German language and the Austrian culture. Sex and gender are the same word (Geschlecht) and when asked after your Geschlecht, it is usually your sex. On the passport, Geschlecht even translates as sex, not gender.

Despite some people's effort to cry loudly in the opposite direction: sex and gender are not the same! I am in no way defined through this mystical thing called "womanhood". I have no idea what it feels like. The feeling that I do know, is one that I am not even on the binary: I am non-binary!

Even when I enjoy girly things - still non-binary. When I wear "male" jeans: still non-binary and agender. I wear my hair long: guess what? Non-binary. Don't mind "she/her" - yes, also non-binary. I do not have a gender no matter what I look like to the outside. What matters in the end, is not the genitalia you were born with, it is what you feel that defines your gender; or in my case: lack of.

In the end, I am the only one to define my gender, and nobody can take that away!

4 comments :

  1. Thank you for this incredibly beautiful piece, Susanne. I see a lot of my own experience in this. Fuck JKR, you are thr best version of yourself when you are yourself. Keep rocking, my enby pal ��

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Esmée, I am glad this resonates with you ♥

      Delete
  2. I enjoyed this a lot, and I relate to it, because it is also very easy for me to not think about my gender, ever. I wish people well who are struggling, it must be difficult to feel defined and restricted by it.

    ReplyDelete

Copyright © floralcars.