Reflection from a nonbinary student

Some might say that I was born with the body of a girl. That is technically incorrect. I am not a girl; therefore, since the body I was born with belongs to me, it isn’t a “girl’s body.” Despite this, when I was born my parents gave me the name of a girl, and have defined me as a girl ever since. I didn’t have any qualms with this until recently.

It had been happening for a while—I didn’t necessarily feel uncomfortable with my designated sex (“female”), but I didn’t feel any attachment to it. I knew about what it meant to be transgender, or at least I thought I did. In the early parts of my gender contemplation, I defined being trans as being “a boy trapped in a girl’s body.” I knew I wasn’t a boy, so I figured I wasn’t trans. Transgender people feel the need to present themselves as a specific gender, right? They have to bind their chests or wear fake breasts to feel properly male or female, right? I didn’t feel any need to do that.

After a while I learned that there was an alternative. Until this point, I thought that there were only two genders—male and female. I found out that this was completely wrong; there are many more genders, and some people identify as nonbinary if they do not identify as male or female. I heard the stories of genderfluid people who slipped between genders without committing to one; agender people who were comfortable living without gender; people who recognized themselves in nature and the world around them, who built up their identities from what they could relate to; people who chose not to categorize themselves entirely.

I considered how much being a girl mattered to me. When I was born and given a girl’s name, did that really affect any part of me? Did I ever really feel like a girl? Do I feel like a girl now? Answer: not really. So, I decided to do away with gender.

I began to subtly let people know—I was never officially “in the closet,” but I wasn’t sure how to tell people. I knew that my friends would be understanding, but I wasn’t sure how to tell them about my gender when I wasn’t sure of it myself.

I began by slipping casual references to my gender into conversations, saying things like, “oh, and by the way, I’m not a girl.” When I officially came out, it was in writing. “I am nonbinary. Wow, that feels good to type out.” A small, trusted group of friends saw my words. They congratulated me and offered their support.

Now, most of my friends are aware of my gender and my preference for gender-neutral pronouns. They remember to use “they” and “them”, most of the time. Every time I hear them use “they” to refer to me, it makes me feel relieved and happy. I am very thankful to be welcomed into a group of people who love and respect me.

I want everyone to understand that nonbinary people exist and that gender is a spectrum—traditional gender roles are outdated and dangerous. While my experience in discovering my gender identity is obviously not universal for all trans people, I hope that it can let others know that there is no list of requirements for gender. You are what you are, and there isn’t anything else to it.