At the Age of 21, I came out as a gender fluid person to the world by making headlines in a local newspaper article. Though it seems straight forward, as I evolved with self-identifying my gender, the fluidity became nowhere a specific identity. This was also around the same time when fashion brands started using the term “Gender fluid” to describe certain articles of clothing and each time I saw my gender associated with that label, it felt like I was playing dress-up. People started looking for signs to qualify my gender fluidity and my unconventional dressing sometimes became the template for them to agree with my gender fluid-ness, which bothered me to my core. Expecting a Gender fluid person to dress in a certain way to prove their fluidity was triggering for my dysphoria.
Since I was 10 years of age, my gender played a vivid role in my life and identity. Early signs of me not submitting to my assigned gender was when I started wearing ‘opposite gender’ clothing. When I was growing up my gender imagination was always seen as fluctuating. Sometimes, I presumed myself to be a girl and sometimes a boy. The idea of gender was like a switch to me to transcend from one idea of myself to another. For a long period of time, I couldn’t understand the triggers of gender dysphoria. Suddenly it started with a small thing. Going shirtless at the age of 9 was terrifying for me. I felt so much of dysphoria to show off my naked torso that I never wanted to show it off to anyone, including my mom and dad. However, with exploration of sexuality and gender somewhere this dysphoria surpassed my gender expression. I later realized that I have both gender and voice dysphoria and that makes my gender sometimes detached and sometimes attached to my physical body.
I started using the word Trans Non-binary that is an umbrella term for trans identities that don’t fit into binaries. It was never evident for me to see where I fit in. My gender dysphoria is more with gender expression and less with the anatomy of my body. I never hated the body I was born with, the parts it has. However, I felt that I am still as equally as a woman as a woman, and both and sometimes even Xeno-gendered. That was the time I realized that I didn’t have a specific word to address my gender identity.
People still question my Trans identity when I present myself visibly as male without drag. I do it to express myself as a demi boy. But, with drag it helps me blend and surpass all the boundaries of any gender structure. I came across Gender Maverique when I was working on a pride flag project. When I read about it, I could see that it checked a lot of boxes that spoke to what I feel about my gender.
Maverique (pronounced mav-uh-reek) is a term to describe those whose gender exists outside of the binary completely. It exists on its own plane of gender, seperate from all others. It is a gender characterized by autonomy and inner conviction regarding a sense of self that is entirely independent. It is not neutral, nor is it lacking in anyway. Maverique can be viewed as an apocrine gender to some individuals, but not to all.
When I read about the Maverique I could see that there is a sense of intersectionality of other genders represented by it, an identity that make total sense to me. Gender maveriqueness felt like an identity which fit my non-binary-ness, xenogenderness and gender flux-ness in just one label. For a lot of people who are on the non-binary gender spectrum, it’s difficult to identify or affirm with the classic definition of non-binaryness majorly as this is more to do with their inner workings and imagery of one’s gender over the gender expression. The idea of not adhering to a specific popular label makes identities like mine go invisible. The intersectional nature of sexuality, gender, class and caste always plays a major role in bringing certain narratives of gender identities to mainstream representation over others.
For me, the gender maverique label became a space to self-declare my identity and feel safe in the label. However, for people who aren’t aware of these nuances, I still use non-binary, an umbrella term, to identify myself. Sometimes it’s exhausting to explain how I feel when I use specific gender label and hence, I choose it when and where I want to use the label.
Reclaiming an identity is always a ritual for me. When I discover something new about my body, I celebrate it by creating art inspired by the same. As Art reflects Reality, I opened up about my gender label to Aniket, a friend of mine. I wanted to celebrate the gender marveiquiness with reflective art. So, we decided to do a photoshoot to celebrate my own skin. I wanted to use the colours of the gender marverique flag as my tapestry. The maverique flag was designed by Vesper H. on June 16, 2014. The color of the flag has its own meaning; the yellow denotes Independence from other genders. Yellow was chosen because it is a primary color, which means that it cannot be obtained from combining other colors, like how maverique is not derivative of other genders. The second colour is white, which is meant to signify Autonomy and independence, especially from the gender binary; and orange is for inner conviction regarding one’s gender.
I combined an orange ghagra and a yellow blazer to create a look for the same. Ghaghra, a garment which was initially used by Men and then by women becomes a label-less clothing, the blazer became the not derivative garment which is used by all the genders. I used a pagadi as well to hide the way of relating visible hair with a particular gender and that’s how I created this look. Aniket helped me in styling the same and helped me add complimented jewelry for aesthetic purposes. When I was standing in front of the camera I could feel my gender marverique soul speaking its heart out to its fullest and this photoshoot became a way to self-accept and celebrate my identity.
While we celebrate the non-binary awareness week every year in July, it’s the right time to read and learn about multiple gender spectrum identities within the non-binary spectrum. And it’s not about creating new label for sake of it but having the right vocabulary to identify oneself and when any queer person creates the 1000th label to identify themselves to the fullest, it is important to recognize that all labels are valid and hold importance to queer liberation.