“What Does Non-Binary Look Like?”

It doesn’t. That’s the point. I don’t want you to look at me and think I am x. Because to you, if I am x, then I must be y. If I am y, I should probably do z, and if I don’t… that is wrong? 

“There are many different ways to perform gender, and we should be open and encouraging of them.”

― Nevo Zisin, Finding Nevo

The purpose of the Non-binary or Gender Non-conforming ‘label’ aiming to steer away from labels, or boxes, has already somehow concocted its own connotation. As humans, it’s natural to judge, to categorize—it’s just how our brains work. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still assume gender, regularly. Particularly, through the binary. I am sure that many people believe I am cisgender and straight. So weird because that identity feels very foreign to me, but it may be how it appears. SO, how many people out there are like me? On one hand, it’s important to recognize my privilege. I am not in immediate danger because of my appearance. I am not targeted because of my gender expression or sexual orientation (by first impression). On the other hand, it can be really hard sometimes to feel valid. I want to be seen as me rather than what I am not. It’s unfortunate that in this world, being seen as what I am not is safer. It’s unfortunate that I feel safest in myself as me, but safest out there when I am hidden.   

Identity is complex. Just as any other part of identity, it looks different to each individual person. While I can be this label, it does not encapsulate my whole identity, even if sometimes it can feel like it to others. This part of my identity is merely a piece of the puzzle that equals me. It can be as big or small of a piece as I want, but it’s there. Just more people have a name to it now. A word for the piece that’s always been, but maybe didn’t even know was allowed to exist. I am allowed to exist as me? I am allowed to be beautiful and handsome or not at all at any point in time? Wow! This is so exciting for me. I am allowed to say I don’t really feel comfortable with you calling me woman or girl or lady or mrs. even though I am an AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth)? I am allowed to live my life, feel my feelings, claim my identity without fitting one structure? I am not alone? *sigh of relief* 

[@alokvmenon]. (2020, January 5). Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/alokvmenon/

Sometimes I forget someone is talking about me when they refer to me as a girl or lady or woman or whatever words typically go with female. I’m literally like who??? And then I remember ahhhhhhh I look a certain way so they think I am this! But that doesn’t make sense. If I see someone smiling, I can’t assume I know their life or mental state. It’s all just assumptions, regardless of mal-intent or not—harmful. Oh yeah, I may have forgot to mention, but implied, I am very feminine presenting? I suppose. I don’t even really like saying femme because it’s not necessarily purposeful, it’s just my closet and my hair. But also do clothes have gender really? I don’t know. I like dresses sometimes, but I also really like button up shirts. I haven’t gone through a whole closet makeover because I just wear things I like that make me feel good, not because I want to be seen as X. Sometimes I wear things because they’re comfortable, soft, warm, or the only clean thing left. I’d like to think that’s how most people decide what to wear. I guess I think about gender a lot, but not at all. I don’t hate my body or feel like it’s not mine, I just don’t want people to look at it and equate it to my gender or sex. That’s what makes me uncomfortable.

Do I have to wear ‘gender-neutral’ clothing that are really just seen as masculine to be ‘non-binary enough’. Why are we so afraid, so against femininity? Feminine expression being so wrong or too gendered. The patriarchy makes it so people are seriously afraid of anyone, but a female being feminine. And ‘feminine’ in the right ways. Non-binary can be colorful, full of patterns, dull, all black, skirts and nail polish. Non-binary is anybody, any kind of body, that claims itself to be as that body. It’s not fitting into any onething no matter how hard people try to make it. Society makes me uncomfortable, scared, closed off.

[@jvn] (2019, November 11). Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/B4vEOlAg_wm/

Alone, I am free. With other queer pals, I am free. I am free and sentient UNTIL society conditions me to believe I am constrained. To somehow make me feel that I cannot be of value, or whole, unless I uphold x,y, and z. Fuck that. We are rewriting the whole-ass alphabet for a language that erases, denies, cages QUEERNESS. Something so beautiful, so powerful. Defined as “strange and peculiar”, but I define as a rainbow of ethereal expansion.  

View this post on Instagram

Happy pride 🍭 I think I look like me here 🙂

A post shared by amandla stenberg (@amandlasponsored) on

[@amandlasponsored]. (2019, July 1). Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BzYI9FoAL1W/

For some more shout out content on LGBTQ+ identities:

https://shoutoutjmu.com/2016/09/14/transface-the-issue-with-non-binary-identities-played-by-cisgender-actors/

https://shoutoutjmu.com/2020/02/02/the-memoir-every-gender-should-read/

https://shoutoutjmu.com/2019/04/24/supreme-court-will-hear-cases-from-lgbtq-people-experiencing-employment-discrimination/

2 thoughts on ““What Does Non-Binary Look Like?”

  1. So much of gender is tied into how it is performed and how it “looks” when it could look like anything. Makes it hard when someone doesn’t identify with what they were assigned at birth and others think they either don’t perform the gender they do identify with well or get confused if they don’t want to be sorted into either category at all. I love the songs that Dorian Electra has out that deal with gender and that also DON’T deal with it, at all. Great article!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “We are rewriting the whole-ass alphabet for a language that erases, denies, cages QUEERNESS. Something so beautiful, so powerful. Defined as “strange and peculiar”, but I define as a rainbow of ethereal expansion.” — Please hold onto this quotation for your first book.

    Like

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