Personal Stories

A Non-Binary Journey: Experiences Of Visibility, Violence, And Silence.

In navigating the complexities of my identity, I often find myself making decisions based on the comfort of those around me. I constantly weigh whether my actions will make others feel less threatened and less inclined to attack me. But there are also moments when I assert my authenticity without hesitation.

TW: Mention of sexual molestation, cop violence

In my journey of self-discovery, I’ve come to realize that I identify as non-binary and do not conform to the traditional male-female/man-woman binary. I currently reside in a bustling urban city. Living in such an environment has its perks, including certain privileges associated with both my city of residence and my social context. Yet, it also presents unique challenges due to my visibly queer identity, which I proudly express through my attire, makeup, and a touch of glitter –– a manifestation of my genuine self.

While this form of self-expression has been liberating and affirming, it has also brought about a significant amount of attention in public spaces. It’s a double-edged sword, where my visibility often elicits reactions from others. In some cases, this attention has taken an unsettling turn, exposing me to various forms of violence, harassment, and discrimination while navigating the public sphere. Commuting through public transportation, such as trains, has frequently exposed me to hostile encounters. Catcalling, persistent stares, and even mocking laughter have become disturbingly commonplace.

In one particularly harrowing incident, I was molested in broad daylight around 5 pm while en route to college. The assailant was an off-duty police officer, evidently intoxicated, and I vividly remember glimpsing his badge. What struck me most was the absence of any assistance from the people around me. In a crowded place, where dozens of eyes witnessed the incident, not a single person stepped in to help or even offer support.

I chose to suppress my emotions and continued with my day, attending my lecture as if nothing had happened. This incident left a lasting impression on me and reinforced my fears about whether anyone would believe my account or if they would blame me in some way.

It wasn’t until one day when I confided in a cisgender friend about this traumatic experience that I realized how profoundly misunderstood my reality could be. His response was shockingly ignorant, as he wondered aloud why I hadn’t taken immediate action. In my opinion, this reaction showed a big difference between what it’s like to be a queer adult like me and how people who haven’t been in our shoes see things.

For nearly a decade, I grappled with a sense of gaslighting in my interactions with most of my cisgender and heterosexual friends. It seemed that my experiences of abuse were often dismissed or downplayed. The incident on public transport was not an isolated one; it was just one example of the many challenges I faced daily. But these stories were met with indifference or disbelief, making me question whether I was responsible for the abuse I endured.

One poignant memory from my journey as a non-binary individual was an incident in a classroom setting. A professor publicly humiliated me for my choice of clothes and makeup. To add to the discomfort, some of my self-proclaimed “woke” and socially conscious friends laughed it off when I shared my concern later.

Only one person approached me after the class, expressing genuine concern for my well-being. Their kind words helped me and I will forever be grateful to them. This experience left me questioning as to why I was expected to take any action against the abuse I faced when it seemed that so few truly understood the impact of such incidents.

In navigating the complexities of my identity, I often find myself making decisions based on the comfort of those around me. I constantly weigh whether my actions will make others feel less threatened and less inclined to attack me. But there are also moments when I assert my authenticity without hesitation.

It’s strange how most people don’t seem to notice the unfairness that the marginalized face every day but get very sensitive when they see it talked about on the internet or in discussions. This big difference shows why it’s important to help people understand and express empathy for the diverse experiences of those who exist beyond the confines of cis-het societal norms. Again, the labor is going to be ours. Hilarious!

In sharing my experiences as a non-binary individual navigating a world that often fails to recognize the intricacies of my identity, I hope to shed light on the challenges and biases that persist.

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Non-binary public policy enthusiast. SOGIESC Advocate
We are always on the lookout for passionate writers. If you want to share your story or want to contribute to Gaysi on any other way, do get in touch.
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Navan Shetty

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