Being brought up in a society filled with cisgendered heterosexual representation everywhere made it difficult for me to actually comprehend that both gender identity and sexual orientation are two very different things that don’t need to be set under a specific binary. Back when I was questioning if I was ‘straight’, I never knew this concept of sexuality being as fluid or as rigid as you’d like it to be.
I always saw this as something that was fixed and rigid instead of a space to safely explore who I was. In a sense, I used this thought pattern to navigate my gender identity. When I first heard of the term ‘non-binary’ it was when I was reading fanfiction. It was a fairly new concept that there was more to gender than being predominantly a girl or a boy. Back then, I still considered myself a cis-gendered woman.
Coming from a childhood where I predominantly called myself a ‘tomboy’ of sorts, rejecting any and most aspects of femininity as it made me seem weak, which was a lot of internalized misogyny for someone so young. I soon learned to grow out of it, educating myself on how it affected me and my perception of gender.
Back when I was questioning if I was ‘straight’, I never knew this concept of sexuality being as fluid or as rigid as you’d like it to be.
Coming to terms with femininity was fairly difficult since I had to navigate the extent of how much internalized misogyny had affected me. So, when I did come to terms with it, I was still under the impression that I was inherently cisgendered. I just didn’t necessarily feel like I adhered to conforming to stereotypes about being a girl and felt comfortable enough to call myself gender nonconforming.
It wasn’t until a couple of months ago that I started feeling like I wasn’t really who I said I was. I proceeded to research on gender and its spectrum, realizing partially that I didn’t necessarily feel woman enough in my day to day life. Bill Nye’s video on gender really helped while I was questioning my identity. I also looked to Tumblr which isn’t the best choice but it did give me a sense of acceptance that I deeply craved because although I did not feel woman enough, I couldn’t bring myself to say that I was non-binary enough.
In my search of validating my existence as a non-binary woman, I encountered some very negative trolls on YouTube seeing as how there were a plethora of non-binary cringe compilations. They were countered by some representation on small-scale web series there, like Couple-ish – a web series about a non-binary person, written by a non-binary person.
Acknowledging the variety of cultures around the world that had people that weren’t predominantly men or women also had a huge impact on the realization that gender is fluid and only a societal construct that has been rigidly acknowledged for far too long.
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On talking with Sap, a forty-four-year-old fellow non-binary > trans* > agender person, they talked about how “gender is created by people, which is why you have gender stereotypes and roles, which are like characteristics of a gender. If gender is created by people, individuals can define their own gender.
For me being agender means that I do not connect with the roles, stereotypes, or anything linked to a specific gender like girl/woman or boy/man. So, when you are agender, you feel that you lack those connections.”
They were assigned female at birth, they were raised as a girl, but soon realised in their teenage years that although they didn’t feel comfortable being raised that way, they did try their best to align their gender identity with their biological body. They recall feeling dysphoric with how they perceived their body, wishing that they would rather have had no genitalia.
Coming to terms with femininity was difficult since I had to navigate the extent of how much internalized misogyny had affected me.
They soon came to realise with access to the internet after almost reaching the age of thirty-five, that they identified as agender – that they were genderless. By using ‘they’/’them’ pronouns, they sometimes find it difficult to communicate in Hindi/Marathi. So while using a vernacular language they find it more comfortable asking people while speaking with them, to refer to them using a plural pronoun instead.
While asked about media representation they also talked about a series called Transparent on Amazon and said that it felt good to see some representation of a non-binary character in the last season of the show.
They are out to their friends and family, but acknowledge that elder family members have a more difficult time using correct pronouns, but they don’t mind it as much because it can be hard for them to register as they have been using ‘she’/’her’ pronouns for Sap for a very long time.
Sap’s experience, as well as mine, is unique since everyone has a different way of figuring out exactly who they are. The one thing that did help me confirm my identity and the fact that I’m okay with either ‘she’ or ‘they’ pronouns, was when I kept telling myself that as long as I don’t hurt anyone including myself, I am allowed to explore and be as authentic as I want to be.
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