There are a lot of questions that come with facing your own gender. For one, if I don’t identify as a girl, does that mean I’m no longer gay? Also, what does this mean for my relationships? Am I going to have to change my name? Do I have to change everything about myself to fit my new gender? What gender am I anyway?
All of these questions I’ve asked myself at one point or another. Sometimes I’ve asked these questions a thousand times over. Others, I’ve only asked once or twice.
Gender is a complicated subject. For as long as any of us have been alive, we’ve been taught that there are only two categories: male and female. Any deviance from these categories is always returned with pushback, questions, and concern. After all, there are only two genders, right? Eh, the answer is a little more complicated than you might think.
Let’s start with intersex individuals. These people are born both genders. Already, with their very birth, they have defied the social construct that there can only be men and women. They are both. Unfortunately, doctors will sometimes ‘correct’ this with surgery to make the intersex child fit into a box that is either male or female, often causing confusion when an intersex child, labeled male, grows up identifying as a girl, or the opposite happens and an intersex child labeled female grows up and identifies as a boy. Sometimes neither of those things happen and the intersex child grows up just questioning their gender, never quite understanding why they feel different than the people around them.
I wasn’t born intersex, but I definitely grew up feeling different than everyone else. For a long time, I thought it was just because I was gay. I didn’t know any other gay people (that I was aware of) and simply tacked up my feelings to just being attracted to other people.
It was only when I was late in my teen years that I began to understand that I wasn’t just gay. I was something else too. The clues were all there. I was uncomfortable with being called a girl. I was uncomfortable with my body looking feminine. I always wanted to wear men’s clothing. I didn’t like girl’s clothing. I grew up always wanting to be a boy. I hated being a girl. All of these things and more all tallied up to one very big conclusion in my mind.
I’m not a girl.
At first I thought this must mean I’m transgender. That was the most natural conclusion I came to, anyway. So I set out to experiment.
I went out and bought male clothing. I cut my hair shorter than I ever had before. I introduced myself to new people under a male name. I used male pronouns. I even went out and bought a binder to make my chest look smaller. I did everything I could to look, feel, and act like a boy.
The experiment lasted two to three weeks. At the end of it, I came to a surprising revelation. I wasn’t transgender. I was something else entirely.
Let me just say, realizing that you’re neither a boy or a girl is the most frustrating and complicated feeling in the world. There’s almost no way to describe it. How can you describe to people that you’re not transgender, but you have gender dysphoria? That you’re not a boy, but you can’t stand the way your body looks, or hate the fact that you have boobs? How can someone explain that they’re not a girl, but they like high heels and nail polish?
I felt like a complete summation of both genders. I liked guy things. I wanted to look like a guy, I wanted to sound like a guy, but I wanted all the perks of being a girl too. The feeling was indescribable, being torn between two socially constructed genders that I couldn’t fit into even if I wanted to.
In the end, as most things in my life do, it came down to research.
Turns out, there are lots of different genders! I’ll include a few links at the bottom of this post, and let me just say, it was incredibly helpful to me as a gender questioning individual. There are people out there just like me who question their genders, people who have found their genders, people who identify as boy, girl, both, or have no gender at all. They’re just people, and that’s how they like to identify.
But what did this mean for me? Where did I fit in all these genders? Was I both? Neither? None? The options felt endless.
Finally, I turned away from research and did the only thing I could do. I looked at myself.
What did I like? What did I feel? Where did I feel most comfortable when it came to gender?
As it turned out, I felt pretty comfortable between genders. I liked men’s deodorant and cologne. I liked baggy clothes and binders. I also liked nail polish and wearing jewelry.
While I definitely identify more on the masculine side, I don’t feel like a boy. And while I enjoy many of the perks of being a girl, I don’t actually identify as a girl.
Even for me, after all I’ve learned, gender can still be a complicated subject. At the end of the day, I’m still working to better understand my gender, but now I have more knowledge behind me to help me navigate my gender and what it feels like day by day.
I’ve settled with accepting myself as gender questioning. The term I’m using for myself now is Intergender, “A person whose gender is between genders or a combination of genders.” My pronouns are they/them, as I don’t identify as a boy or a girl, and I did end up changing my name to Kas, a more gender neutral version of my name.
I’m much happier than I was before I accepted my gender, but I’m also open to seeing where I find myself a few years down the road. Will I still be gender questioning next year? Will I still not identify as a boy or a girl in two years? Or will I eventually settle in one category or the other… or maybe even both? Who knows. All I know is that gender is complicated and can seem messy at times, but there are certainly more than two genders, and I definitely find myself outside of the spectrum of male and female.
I guess that’s why I titled this blog post as Gender Questioning Absurdity. It can be difficult and strange, but it’s important to ask questions and dig deeper. Things are rarely as they appear, and gender is one of those things. It’s not a simple binary of male and female. It’s big and it’s vast and can be everywhere at once.
What’s most important is to be aware that there are people out there that don’t identify as male or female. And if they don’t, that’s not a bad thing! Feel free to ask a person about their pronouns. Be kind and respectful of people who are still questioning their gender, and remember that they’re still figuring things out at the same time you are.
At the end of the day it doesn’t have to be complicated. Just be loving and remember we’re all figuring out this strange world together, and gender is just another thing we’re all learning more about every day.
I wanted to end this post with something more inspirational, but I guess this will do. In the meantime, I’ve attached some links so you all can do some research on your own if you’re up for it! Thank you for reading through this and learning a little bit more about me and my gender. I hope it helped!
http://genderqueerid.com/gq-terms <-Gender terms and descriptions