I just bought my first binder

[Trigger warning: descriptions of gender dysphoria]

I live in the Bible Belt. I managed to get through two middle school “sex ed” courses and two high school classes all about having babies and raising babies without even learning the term “vulva”, let alone learning about gender expression and sexual orientation. It’s not surprising that it took me this long to find out that I’m not a complete freak. When I was growing up, there were two sexual orientations, Straight and Gay, and I was lucky to have that much. Thinking back, my high school was surprisingly progressive, we had a handful of Out gay kids and a transvestite that nobody dared mess with. Granted, he was a drag queen built like a linebacker, and he only showed off his femwardrobe in public once, but damn. Still, I was a bit of a loner and a lot insecure, and I really didn’t know what was wrong with me.

In the last year, I’ve come out as asexual, which is a huge relief as it was my biggest area of confusion, and I’ll probably talk more about that later.

When I was growing up I thought I was trans. I didn’t have the vocabulary to identify it, but I thought I had to identify as one gender or the other (because of course there were only two) and I was not 100% comfortable as a woman, so maybe I would be happier as a man. I never talked about it to anyone, and generally it wasn’t an issue, because I just kind of accepted that I was never going to be happy purely female and went on with my life. I’ve always been a tomboy. I had more guy friends than girls, I liked playing sports and hiking more than gossiping and makeup, etc. I sound like I’m stereotyping, but seriously, you should have seen the kids at my school. Eventually I found less “girly” girls that I identified with, but I never really felt like I belonged in their groups, many of their shared experiences were foreign to me, and many of my issues were alien to them.

It wasn’t until very recently that I learned about gender dysphoria, and even more recently that I realized that’s what I was experiencing when I was feeling betrayed by my body and out-of-place. I’m not trans, I’m sure about that. I’m not a man, but I’m not a woman. I’m uncomfortable with both labels, it’s just that when I was younger, I didn’t realize that there were more options. I really like the term genderqueer, and I feel like it describes me, but I also worry about appropriating it. I’m comfortable with female pronouns, and I have come to actually like my body (to varying degrees depending on the day). These are luxuries that many who identify as genderqueer do not have. I’ve hesitated to enter into genderless, genderqueer, or androgyne spaces because I feel like I am too at peace with my body, and I would be an unwelcome and overly privileged voice.

But

I have days where I feel unquestionably female, and days where I am equally male. I have spent most of my life hating myself for one reason or another, and much of that self-hatred was directed at my body. It’s hard enough growing up cisgender, but going through puberty with no idea who you are or what you actually want your body to look like is a living nightmare. Some days I would wake up and be too curvy, too soft, too feminine, and then I would turn around later in the same week and not be curvy enough, no hips, no breasts, too broad-shouldered and, my jaw was too wide. When I got my first period, I was so disgusted with myself that I cried in the bathroom and spent most of the day locked away. I may be comfortable with the state of my body now, but it was a long road to get here.

I have reached a point where I feel comfortable with the term genderqueer, at least in my own head. The thing is, I’ve been spending some time with various communities (LGBT+, genderqueer, asexual, feminist, social justice), and all that has taught me that it doesn’t matter what the accepted definitions are. I don’t fit into the most widely understood or accepted boxes, and that doesn’t matter. Despite what my teenage self thought, ‘finding myself’ doesn’t mean changing myself to fit labels, it means changing labels to fit me. Of course there are still boundaries to this, appropriation still exists and it’s important to understand what that means, but I can be Queer and Ace and Panromantic and Non-binary and GQ all at the same time, and the only person I need to justify all of that to is myself.

I bought my first binder today, because to me, being comfortable with my body and myself doesn’t mean presenting as female at all times. I’m comfortable with myself because I am comfortable changing myself to fit my self-perception, and I’m adult enough to understand that this won’t always work well for me. I know I’ll likely always be perceived as female, no matter how short my hair or how flat my chest or how baggy my clothes, but fuck society’s perception. I realize how privileged I am to be able to say that, and I am so thankful that I live in a place and time where I don’t have to force myself to conform.

 

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2 Comments

  1. fuck society’s perception!!! 🙂 it really seems to me that queer identiy and queerfeminist philosophy can help so many people to follow their inner feelings for the expression of their gender identity, regardless of what the society perceives. so rock on, indeed! grow as you are

    Reply
    • Thanks! I’m loving the layers of queer identity that have been created in recent years. I agree that they are SO helpful for a lot of people who are trying to understand their personal identity better.

      Reply

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