“It must be a phase, you stay really sad these days.”
“It must be because you are so angry with the societal condition of women.”
“Don’t you think it’s because you are reading too much feminist literature?”
“Coz you know maybe you have these tattoos and piercings and you are kinda tough, so you may feel less feminine.”
“What on earth is They/She? I thought you were not satisfied being a woman.”
“So are you transitioning?”
These were some of the many remarks that I came across when I expressed my experiences as a gender non-binary being, with my preferred pronouns being They/She. Other than Sayantani and Tathagata, two of the most WOKE people I get to call my friends, nobody really quite understood where I was heading with my gender and pronouns. And this was much later when I had the courage to talk about it. There have been years of self-doubt (thanks society!!) and constantly questioning if I am gonna sound crazy until I realised that one can be free with what one expresses oneself to be. It does not fall under society’s binary system of She and He.
Thanks to our society, individuals have always been expected to exist on the binary of male and female, be it socially or physically. We are expected to behave or act like a male or a female because that’s what our society conditioned us to be based on our biological sex. These expectations of socializing have always left me confused and at times, a bit frustrated. While men are expected to be tough and be providers, women will be caring and demure. Based on that our society started segregating different arbitrary things as male and female such as sports, shopping, nursing, crafting, video games, emotions, and SEX. But, while I was stuck thinking about how society expects me to be, I discovered things like Genderfuck, Gender Bender, and started realizing my love for hot-wheels over Barbies and playing with Mechanix over being a mother to dolls as a kid was not something weird. Also, absolutely loved shopping in the men’s section as much as in the women’s!!
By the time I was in college, I started reading more and more about Sex, Gender Identity, Gender role, and Gender Expression. The more I read the more liberated I felt. I started attending talks at closely-knit groups of queer people and listened to them about their experiences, which felt comfortable and empowering. But, there was an underlying fear that crawled its way up whenever I felt like expressing myself as someone who does not want to be known only one gender that’s assigned at birth. Most probably because it was the way I dressed at times. My clothing has always been gender fluid and that was because I liked it that way, and not because I was making a particular statement through my clothes. For some days, if I like to wear chunks of traditional silver jewellery and ethnic kurtas I am not making a statement of being a true-blue female, neither do I give out a sense of masculinity when I wear men’s tees and baggy pants. I noticed for some people around me, it was something that confused them a lot. And then there were tattoos and piercings, so I might be a rock-chic goth girl also. Well, none of those made sense to me, because the statement that maybe I made through my clothing or looks was just that I was being happy in all of them.
Why She/They? And, not She/Her or They/Them??
It’s just because I am comfortable with my femininity physically but not ok when it comes to gender identity, gender roles, and gender expression ingrained by society. I felt this is what Halberstam meant when he talked about Genderless Future. This has nothing to do with burning the existence of the male and female, but have an empowered future where everyone can express their gender freely, without any social stigma or shame. Another thing is before I am being ticked off as Vagina, I want to be seen as a human, and thus the choices I make need not need to align with the binary radar. My sex organs don’t identify my whole life and the choices I make.
Lastly, it is not a phase for me or it’s not something trendy (the worse thing to say to a non-binary, because we have always been there)!! I don’t want myself to be identified with having a binary gender because it feels constrictive. And there has ‘n’ number of times when people felt they can explain my gender back to me only because they thought they can explain it by how they felt I was and how my general opinions were towards things. And that’s something, that increased my doubts about myself and crippled me with anxiety about expressing myself. My only request is to please be respectful when someone talks about their gender identity and expressions with you. If you don’t know anyone’s pronouns, please ask them or if they correct you, don’t feel that they are trying to be rude to you. Also, I use women’s toilet because I feel safe there, but in an ideal world, where the chances of getting harassed by a man will be less, I will run to any of the toilets I find closest, because it’s all about taking a dump or peeing, how does that even matter? It’s the same for all.
Changing and Evolving is a part of us and we all have been through physical, emotional, and mental changes since birth. So why is it so difficult to believe when one comes to you and talks about their personal evolution? We all need to show a bit more empathy here.
Try to understand the difference between Trend and Recognition!!
Hey wait! There’s me being a happy non-binary being..