Before I start this one, I should probably warn you that this one is not about writing, fiction, or any of the other shit I normally rant about here. This one is about me, Shannon Haddock the person. So if you’re just here for writing stuff, you probably want to skip this one. (Also, I’m writing this at 4am while seriously pissed off, so my spelling and grammar may be more flakey than usual. Sorry.)
In case there’s anyone reading this who didn’t know it, I’m nonbinary. (I don’t care what pronouns you use for me. Life is too short to give a fuck about shit like that, in my opinion.) This, I’ve just learned, according to a bitchton of people who comment on YouTube videos that mention the word . . . or androgyny or genderqueer or anything else that implies the existence of more than two options for human gender . . . means that I’m actually delusional and/or just want attention.
Now, to be fair, I do think there are some people who claim to be something out of the “normal” two genders who are just wanting attention. But you know what? I don’t give a fuck. They’re usually really fucking obvious because they’re doing things like inventing things that disobey all rules of every known language to use as their unique gender and pronouns. And so I treat them the same way I did all the pagans who were inventing shit out of nowhere in the late 90s/early 2000s: roll my eyes and ignore them.
But me? I CRIED WHEN I FIRST READ A DEFINITION OF NONBINARY THAT DESCRIBED ME. I was thirty-five-goddamned-years old and FINALLY had found a word that described my gender. Thirty-five! Thirty five years of being a bit uncomfortable with being seen as a female, but only slightly less uncomfortable with being seen as a male (People who only know me online tend to assume I’m male. I guess I write like a guy?). (And experiencing more discomfort with being seen as female is partially internalized misogyny, I’ve realized recently, and maybe someday I’ll manage that blogpost . . . been working on it for several months.)
I knew I wasn’t trans . . . I’m perfectly happy having the body parts I do. But I’d be just as happy with the other choice.
Many years ago, I took an online gender predictor test and scored dead center. That led to me researching androgyny and this new concept I learned about in the process, “genderqueer”. The thing was, aside from one mention of “psychological androgyny,” all the discussions and websites and whatnot seemed to be about how to make yourself look like Ziggy Stardust era David Bowie. That wasn’t what I wanted. I like my huge boobs. The shortest my hair has ever been is a couple of inches past my shoulders, and that was because a stylist was an idiot. The shortest it’s ever been on purpose is the middle of my back. There’s no way in fucking hell that I’m ever going to cut it shorter than that just so people look at me and can’t tell what gender I am . . . besides, that’s fucking stupid. I’ve had male friends with hair longer than mine.
I, for years, periodically told people when it was relevant that I was psychologically androgynous but, understandably, most people were confused by the concept. I looked undeniably female, albeit tom boyishly so. How could I possibly be androgynous?
Then I stumbled on the idea that gender was just a societal construct. I loved this! If gender weren’t really a thing, then I’d just missed out on some societal programming! That worked for me just fine. I mean, I’d somehow grown up in the Bible Belt without picking up on the normal belief in the omnipotent dude who sent his son to Earth to die . . . and, more surprisingly, without an appreciation for football. I could easily believe I was reading or daydreaming when I should’ve been learning how to be a girl or a boy.
So I happily let people see me as a female in real life and a male online and felt smug about how I’d missed the programming they’d gotten. Yeah, I’m an ass sometimes. Aren’t we all, though?
Then a close friend came out as trans. This was someone I knew was brilliant, more brilliant than I am, truth be told. How could they care about something as silly as gender?
Yeah, that led to some horrible conversations. On the bright side, I only made them cry a couple of times . . . as I said, I’m an ass sometimes. Eventually I came to realize that they weren’t stupid; I was just fucking weird. (And probably a bit stupid.) Having a strong feeling about being either male or female really does confuse the shit out of me.
For reasons that I still can’t manage to put into words, I found myself looking for a word to describe my gender identity. This is the thing that I find time and time again in “How did you know you were nonbinary?” posts, especially those from people who, like me, are in their thirties or later before they find the word: We’d always felt weird, never quite like a girl or a boy, and were just looking for a word for what the fuck we were. Validation, I guess. In my case, I never thought I was mentally ill for it — I had the good fortune to grow up with a mother who is far from the most femme woman — but many do. I just . . . like I said, I can’t put the reasons it mattered to me into words, but it did matter.
And I found lots of definitions that didn’t apply to me. I don’t want to have no genitals, like some of the weirder definitions say is the case. I’m not male or female, not asexual, thank you very much. But I found one that did. And, like I said, I cried. Because finally, FINALLY, I knew what I was. (And then, more importantly, I found people like me using the term to describe themselves, which means that the definition I found wasn’t a fluke.)
And that, I think, is why I was nearly in tears after seeing those YouTube comments tonight. I don’t want special attention. I’m not claiming to be anything. I am nonbinary. I didn’t decide to become nonbinary, any more than I decided to be attracted to both masculine men and femme women. (Yeah, I’m nonbinary and attracted to the extremes of the binary. The irony of this is not lost on me.) I finally found a word that describes who the fuck I am, and these assholes have the motherfucking audacity to say that that’s not a thing that exists?! Fuck them.
So what if most of the people suddenly realizing they’re nonbinary are teenagers?! Good for them! If I’d known it was a thing when I was a teen, I have little doubt . . . okay, I probably still wouldn’t have called myself nonbinary until I was in my twenties, and then possibly only after someone else pointed it out to me. Teen me was such an idiot she didn’t consciously realize she was bi while she was crushing on a female friend. I somehow managed to convince myself I just wished I was as pretty as her. It was the 90s in Arkansas, okay? (I have done a “representation is important” post before, right? Hell, even if I have, remind me to do another one some day. It’s that important.) But, well, look at it this way: I tried identifying as psychologically androgynous in my early twenties. So clearly I knew by then that I didn’t have a female mind.
And before anybody says it, this has little to do with my preference for jeans and t-shirts over dresses, nor with my staunch refusal to carry a purse for years, or wear makeup, or do any other typically “girly” stuff. It does come into play there in weird ways that I’m not quite sure how to put into words, but moreso that’s the internalized misogyny I referenced earlier and, in the case of the makeup and a great deal of the caring about my clothes much, laziness is really the main culprit.
And, just in case I need to reiterate it, I’m a polyamorous, bisexual, nonbinary, Odin-worshipping, democratic socialist, space opera author with OCD and anxiety. None of these are open for debate. I finally, at thirty-six-years-old, am perfectly comfortable with who I am. If you have a problem with anything I am, that’s your problem, not mine.
And, finally, a song about making peace with who you are: