July 14th is International Non Binary People’s Day, a day to celebrate diversity in the community and encourage visibility of all kinds of humans. We spoke to a few people who identify themselves in the non-binary spectrum to share stories that celebrate the (very) valid gender identities that exist.
Mx. Dan Rebello
I identify as non-binary(genderfluid) and I have friends who just brush it off and call me a tomboy. Do not use my chosen name and pronouns. Call me a special snowflake for all this *drama*. I get asked questions by random strangers, questions like are you a boy pretending to be a girl or a girl pretending to be a boy? I’ve been made to get up from seats reserved for women in buses and asked to get down from the ladies compartment in trains, been refused entry in ladies washrooms, I have to speak up and say that I am a woman, security personnel at malls ask me take the men’s queue, and instead of saying sorry they’ve laughed on my face, we’re just mere laughing stocks for the public.
I’m just tired.
Totally relate to these lines by Hannah Gadsby, “I identify as tired.”
Q is my name, it is what someone called me a long time ago, and what everyone calls me now. I ask them to call me “they”. They tell me it’s cowardly to be agender, since it shies away from my responsibility and the privilege of being born male. I ask them, if I acknowledge the presence of that privilege, then isn’t this also how I dismantle it?
I haven’t come out to my parents. It’s not a burden I’d want to place on them. My friends have greeted me with denial. I write pages, articles, analyses, and produce reports of note to ask them, why can’t I be agender? Is Q not enough for you, or is my penis all that I’ll ever be?
I performed poetry about being agender, I had intimate conversations with loved ones who expected me to be more masculine, stronger, taller, and perhaps be places where they could feel safe. It’s unfortunate that while I want “masculine” and “feminine” categories to no longer exist, it is only by speaking of them can one take it. I tell my partners my love for weakness. My love of being small, the little spoon, and to be taken care of. I held a new view of vulnerability. Self-sufficiency.
No man is an island they say. Then thank the devil that I’m not a man. Within my four limbs, I understand the masculinity and the femininity I project. Perhaps being agender means an understanding of what it means to feel weak and strong at the same time, to be both oppressor and oppressed, and know where the line that separates them lies.
The future is agender.
I’m a closeted non-binary person but I thought it’s okay to express something at least and doesn’t matter I’m closeted or not. From childhood maybe around 3-4, I always knew that I’ve wanted to become a girl. I believe my parents also kinda support me at that time, they’d let me wear girl’s dress, dance, anything I want. I was more like gender neutral no difference being a boy or a girl. Those moments were the most exciting exciting moments of my life which I’ll perished for the rest of my life even though I don’t remember the other things what was going on, what happened? I couldn’t remember anything. Actually it’s pretty strange for me also.
No matter how I felt or how I identified myself, I was admitted at a boys only school at the age of 5 or 6. So, I tried really hard to become a boy, a fake one. It felt more like a girl in a boy’s school. So what happened to my girly things? All those dresses. All of them were out of my sight. Maybe I decided that was the best for me or a fairy came and changed my mind. So I started trying at my best level to become a ‘real’ boy but still there was an inner voice inside me, it seems like it didn’t agree.
After some years, time carried me to 6th grade and I was still in the boy’s school. My friend’s started attaining puberty their voice got deeper and facial hairs too. And the same happened for me also. Boys started making fun of me because they find my feminine characters attractive or maybe something unique among them. But the word gay we never knew about it at that time. Some of them said I look like a girl and they would marry me if I were a girl.
As I grew up I realized my masculinity part too as I said earlier I was attracted to boys it didn’t always happen that way I started attraction towards girls also from the tuition and wherever places I’ve explored. Some people might want to ask few questions here? But what you’re thinking is not true. I identified myself as neither gay nor a lesbian because when I like boys I like them just like the way girls like boys and when I like girls I like them just like boys like girls. The truth is I like men(human) not just man. So I hope people could understand me and people like me who identified themselves as non-binary, genderfluid or genderqueer and lastly when I get to know the word non-binary it just felt like me, those questions I’ve been asking to myself for the past 10 years the word itself gives a lot of answers.
Here’s a story about my experience being a non-binary person. I identify as gender neutral. I’m a pretty masculine presenting person, assigned female at birth. I also have an unconventional short haircut. So, this attracts a lot of attention from random people around me wherever I go. It can get pretty annoying sometimes.
But one of the incidents that really ticked me off was when I was in a shop with my friends in Pondicherry. Most of my friends were on another floor. There were two women with a kid walking around in the same aisle of clothes as I was. There was talking in Hindi. And as they stood behind me, they started talking about me. I don’t know why they would assume that I wouldn’t know Hindi. I found it super ridiculous and stupid of them to be honest.
They were discussing if I was a boy or a girl. And one confidently replied saying that I was a boy. I had had a tiring day of similar experiences, but this really crossed the line. I have had people misgendering me, questioning my gender, but a lot of these come from places of genuine curiosity. This wasn’t one of them. So, I confronted them about 10s later. I spoke to them in Hindi and asked them if they were talking about me. They denied it. But I repeated the same and said that I had heard them discussing my gender. They tried to walk away. But I saw them again and asked them why it mattered to them. They were pretty awkward and tried to deny the whole thing. Not once did they apologise or own up to what they did.
When we don’t conform to the binary, we see a lot of awkward conversations, but the thing that bothers me the most is people like these, who are unnecessarily problematic and rude.
In a world that is boxed into binaries, talking about those out of the lines, boxes and blanks becomes necessary for the sustenance of diversity, acceptance and love. Different people have always existed, but now we have names for those differences and somewhere while these names that seek to unite tend to differentiate- the joy of belonging beckons.
Here’s to a wonderfully non- binary future.