It all started out of nowhere at the age of 12. I was so angry whenever I was referred to as a woman. At the time, I would want to scream at top of my lungs: “STOP CALLING ME THAT…..I’M A PERSON” ! I would then try to reassure myself, saying: “Well, maybe this should pass too, right? I mean whats wrong with being female. I mean there is nothing wrong with it, but it’s just not me. At least that’s how I feel.”
Those feelings not only began to linger for longer but became a driving force, is what I later understood. At 15 I wasn’t any longer comfortable being labeled as a female nor was I okay with people calling me a chick or identifying me with any other feminine identity. Whenever someone started to say well you’re a girl or a female, I would correct them by saying I’m a person first. When I confessed this to my mother, she simply nodded and for once, I thought she accepted me for who I am and was okay with me being non-binary. But as I continued to find myself and stood my ground about being identified as a non-binary person, I would notice the expression on my mother’s face and could tell that something wasn’t right. It always looked like she was still in disbelief or brushed it off with a smile and a shake of the head. Until I hit my early 20s, I learned my mother didn’t understand the term non-binary. She would later reveal that she thought it meant I was gay, emphasizing the fact that she thought it was a phase and I would have eventually grow out of it. I was disappointed in my mother, but then she told me her reasons and I internalized it as my own fear as well. My mother said, “Why would you make things harder on yourself? You already have three strikes against you. People don’t understand what non-binary is and it will make it harder to make friends.” I didn’t even realize the new territory of danger I was walking into, until she told me that.
Was being non-binary that foreign to people? Will making friends be more difficult? I already don’t have many people to be open with. I decided that the dangers of being open about my gender was too large of something that I couldn’t bear. So I did as my mother suggested and decided to not say a word. Even to this day, the people that talk to me don’t know that I’m non-binary. It was something I kept sealed shut throughout the years and wasn’t able to access until about two or three months I go. That’s when I came out to my father, who was very accepting of me and even told me that some religious Christian scriptures talk about how God would still be accepting of me. It was so heartwarming and welcoming to hear, and the cute part was how, following that, my dad read me a bit of non-binary computer code. I was so shocked that he even looked up non-binary and what it means to be a non-binary person. My dad joked by saying: “Yeah, you’re human.” It made me do a double take because not only did he accept me, but he added a little side joke that is something we always do between us. We even have a hamburger joke about lettuce, ketchup, and mustard. I know off the back of those jokes that we share that we probably don’t make sense to others, but it’s nice to have something just for us to get and crack up when having a deep serious conversation or sharing things that might be difficult.
Earlier this week, I asked my mother about how my dad could be so accepting but she wasn’t and of course, that was a horrible question to ask. My mom replied: “The parent that comes into their child’s life after abandoning them can be pretty accepting of anything, but can’t parent because they weren’t even around.” I knew it would come back around to bite me in the butt. Yes, my dad abandoned me, took all the money and I ended up living in some pretty tough situations because of his actions. Today, I have forged a new relationship with my dad and know that he was a different person than he was when I was 7 years old. As I write this, my mother is looking at me writing and I can feel that it makes her little thoughts spin and spin, which makes me nervous. But, I have to write this out because no one should have to go through not being accepted because of the changes that they’re going through. I was completely miserable at 12 getting to know myself and I still am miserable because I haven’t fully accepted myself. But I do know one thing, that I shouldn’t feel scared or worried about my identifying as non-binary. It doesn’t make me any less of a person, and it doesn’t make me the problem or the one who’s trying to get more strikes against them. I need to start living out my truth and tell people when I feel COMFORTABLE. I don’t need to worry about how they are going to process it. What’s more important is how comfortable I am. I am non-binary and will meet people around me who, one day, will feel comfortable and tell their stories as well. I will hold my flag up high and surround myself with people that are accepting of me.