On gender, and juggling multiple identities

Sometimes as non binary people our identities get even more complicated than “here is my gender which is not man or woman”. Sometimes we have to occupy various spaces and identities to have any sort of community, or just to move through the world. I am non binary, but I move through the world as someone consistently read as a woman. I have my relationship with my gender–genderfluid, non binary, other words I use for it–and a relationship to my birth assigned gender (woman), and a relationship with the gender I was not assigned (man).

Sometimes I am not upset about being seen as a woman, and sometimes I am. Sometimes I’m happy being seen as a man, sometimes I’m unhappy, and sometimes I feel insecure about it, like it reinforces my feelings that I’m not being a woman “right” even if I’m not trying to really, because I’m not a woman. Sometimes I have to relate to my sexuality through those lenses–if there is no media for non binary person being sexual, I have to see myself in art about queer women or queer men. A lot of non binary people also associate with a binary gender–the one they feel closest to, what was assigned, the one they were not assigned because get that one away from me.

I feel connected to womanhood, because I don’t feel like a man. I feel vague connections to manhood because I don’t feel like a woman. My presentation and my experiences and my feelings are all non binary, because I am non binary, but they also make me feel like a woman or man at different times because there is no context for being me as my actual gender in our society.

So, sometimes I relate to the world as a queer woman because there is no place set up in my society for being non binary, and I need to relate to *something*.

Sometimes it’s the opposite of what I feel–, a transmasculine person relating to the world as a man or a transfeminine person relating to the world as a woman even if they non binary–because they have to relate to something and those are the binary genders they relate to most. And sometimes we need that space, to feel real, because the world keeps telling us we’re not.

And then people blame us for reinforcing it! Because we want to be real, and fit in somewhere, but because we can do that, and sometimes implicitly misgender ourselves because there is no space for our real gender, we then often feel like we must be “fake” and others think so too. We’re not fake. We’re coping. We’re coping with a binary society as non binary people and sometimes that takes juggling identities. Let us be. It’s okay to ask what we want to be called, what pronouns, and if we say something contradictory asking for clarification is not the same as interrogating us, which would be unkind and unfair. Please don’t interrogate us, and realize that even being non binary or binary…isn’t a binary. Sometimes we have to live in spaces that aren’t “who we are”, and sometimes those become part of who we are, just in a different way than if we identified as those genders.

And this is something that hits me hard. I’ve been thinking about this partly because of stuff outside of gender identity, too. It’s a thing too if you’re bisexual or pansexual or polysexual or asexual and homoromantic/biromantic, those kinds of identities–Sometimes we say bi or pan, other times “gay” because there is no space for being bisexual or pansexual etc in most of our media. That post I saw today about “don’t ignore us and use gay as an umbrella term and then get mad at us for using it for ourselves”…That was so important for me, to see the words in writing.

And so just now I was seeing something written by an agender person who used to identify as a queer woman, who I remember being constantly criticized for using a play on the word “lesbian” on their blog title while dating a guy, refusing to say bi and going with “queer”. I remember all of the interrogation and harassment they got over that. And I was thinking “this post is a thing about queer women, I think, and they relate, and I bet they relate how I relate”. And so it’s that way with sexual orientation *and* gender. As long as there are binaries and nothing is recognized outside of them, some of us are going to have to contradict ourselves just to feel like we exist. I need people to recognize that, and give us space to not make sense, and ask us, not interrogate us. Please give us space to work out our identities and manage them however we need to to survive. If you think it’s confusing and stressful for you–It’s way more confusing and stressful for us.


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