By Katie Munday (They / them)
I have come out of the non-binary closet (see my coming out story here) , and I am so relieved: I am me, finally, entirely, me. When people refer to me as they/ them it makes me feel so euphoric, so seen and comfortable in my Queer embodiment.
It hasn’t been easy coming out, and I know I will be doing it for the rest of my life, which is quite overwhelming but also exciting (see my piece on navigating gender journeys). Other trans and non-binary people have been amazing with my pronoun change. The cis people in my life are finding it more difficult, many are clueless about how often they use my pronouns incorrectly in conversation. Most people outside of the gender divergent community don’t understand the profound power of pronouns, they were given theirs at birth and they fit them, so much so they’ve don’t have to question them. My assigned pronouns don’t fit me and I find it so difficult and uncomfortable when people still use them.
Despite this discomfort, I often do not correct people, or I go for a more subtle approach – the same way I role model appropriate language for the under 5s I work with – I mirror back the sentence with the proper pronouns. I’m not sure if taking a subtle approach is due to my discomfort around conflict or my inability to guess someone’s reaction and how I should respond to them. I have no social script for this situation – I’ve never had to constantly explain and validate my identity and change people’s language to fit it. And now I must do this for being both Autistic and non-binary.
The lack of dysphoria over the use of incorrect pronouns makes me feel like an imposter, like I am not trans non-binary. I sit with this feeling every time I am misgendered, every time I don’t stand up for myself and correct people.
I feel like a fraud, I feel like I should look more androgynous, and I wish my sensory differences could deal with more agender-style clothing. Then I remember that being gender divergent isn’t all sadness and shame. It’s expressing myself in the way I want and feel comfortable, it’s referring to myself in ways that make sense to me: it’s enjoying my Queer existence.
How I feel about my pronouns and my social transition may change – it may get worse; it may get better – either way I’m out and I have more space to explore my gender until everything fits. There is no one way to be non-binary, or trans, or gender divergent. Questioning, confusion and flux are all part of transgender journeys. I don’t have to be 100% sure of who I am all the time, and I don’t have to stick up for myself every time someone misgenders me – sometimes it’s not safe and sometimes I don’t have the spoons.
This doesn’t make me any less trans, any less non-binary or agender. There’s no wrong way to be trans. If I identify as trans then that is exactly who I am. This may not be the same tomorrow, or next year but it is my truth right now and that’s all that matters.