I grew up in a house with two opposite sex parents. I like to state this because it is not by any means a given in life. My mother was and still is obsessed with femininity and my father has always been traditionally masculine. A pretty traditional upbringing in all senses of the word.
I was closer to my dad as a child. I don’t really know why. By the time I was 3 I could name every car on the road because he loved cars. He often took me to work with him at a car showroom and to various motor sport events which I loved.
My mum put me in dresses for a long time, but as soon as I could choose, I was in trousers and a t-shirt. They made me feel more comfortable. Not to say I didn’t enjoy spending time with my mum, because I did.
The first memory I have of knowing I was different was when I was 6 years old. My mum and my sister had taken me and my niece and nephew to an outdoor public paddling pool. It was a hot day and all the kids were running in and out of the water. My nephew threw his shirt off and ran into the pool with just shorts on. I took my shirt off and ran in after him. I was shouted at and told that girls must wear tops at all times. I protested, but I was really embarrassed. I had broken a social norm and all I ever wanted to do was please my family. It effected me so profoundly that I didn’t even consider what I felt like inside for almost 20 years.
Around the age of 14 I came out to my family as a lesbian. I had a girlfriend and it was becoming increasingly difficult to hide it. It was a relief but I suffered for it at school and in my personal life. To be honest this is quite irrelevant to my GQ story, other than a particular point I want to make:
Sexuality and gender and two different things.
- Sexuality is who you are attracted to.
- Gender is how you identify.
Like with the binary gender norms (male and female), sexuality is also enforced in a trinary (probably not a word.) Straight, gay or bisexual with the assumption you are straight unless you say otherwise.
As an adult I have come to realise both are on a spectrum, identifying as pansexual and GQ. (Being pansexual means you are attracted to the whole spectrum and reject the gender binary.)
Around about the age of 27 my partner of 3 years left me. We had a mortgage together, 3 cats and we had built a stable life. She left without warning and little explanation. My boss at the time was an unsympathetic homophobe who basically told me to get over it. I sat and cried at my desk everyday until HR eventually signed me off sick for a week. I drank a lot and had time to think about what she had potentially been suppressing in me. I started to explore my feelings about gender on Tumblr and Reddit. I started to connect with people who felt the same way about themselves as me. We didn’t fit in the gender binary. We didn’t identify as male or female. We were gender queer.
Now here is where it gets complicated so pay attention. There is a trans* umbrella. It encompasses lots of different identities such as gender fluid, bigender and agender as well as gender queer. I personally am fluid in my gender. Sometimes I feel more masculine or more feminine. However most of the time I’m entirely androgynous. I identify as gender queer because I don’t fit. I’m queer of the norm. If I want to actually pass as a cis male, then I will dress as one and do exactly that. I find it harder to pass as cis female for fucks sake and I have a damn vagina!
A lot of my gender queer friends have gone on to transition to become who they really are. For example having a female body and transitioning to that of a male. They are now transgendered people. Me on the other hand, I am already who I am and that is queer as bloody folk. ;)
So what is my life like on a daily basis? I get up and I think about how I’m feeling. Shall I wear tight jeans or shall I wear a baggy hoodie? Shall I leave the hairs on my lip or shall I pluck them? Suitably dressed for how I’m feeling I’ll go to the gym. Unfortunately at my local gym they do not have gender neutral changing rooms so I have to make a decision based on how I am presenting to the world. Sometimes this is made for me and I am ushered into the male changing rooms because even being androgynous means you are definitely male in the binary world. After the gym I’ll go to the supermarket to grab some shopping. I’ll need a wee because I’ll have drunk a lot post workout. Again there are no gender neutral facilities. I look at the door and the symbols don’t match who I am or how I feel. I have to yet again make a decision I’m not comfortable with. If I go into the female toilets I am often whispered about and sometimes even blatantly shouted out. If I go in the male toilets I could get beaten up. Ah I’m at home now. I’ll check Facebook and see what’s going on in the world. I’ll get misgendered as ‘she’ by strangers and even people I know when my profile clearly states my preferred pronouns are they and them. You know I’m really tired already and I haven’t even been to work yet. She this and she that all fucking night long. ARGH!!!!!!!
As you can see it’s difficult being a non-binary person in a binary world. Every action can be a stressful situation just waiting to open up and swallow you. Only around people who truly accept me can I be comfortable and sometimes even they make mistakes. It’s so hard to be unconditioned when your whole life you are told that the binary is the only thing there is.
Being gender queer certainly isn’t any form of attention seeking as I have been accused of in the past. It’s just me trying to express how I really feel inside on the outside.
I hope this little ramble has made things clearer for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them below.