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Nonbinary doesn’t begin to cover it.


Being nonbinary has been a large part of my queer identity from, at this point, a young age. I wish I remembered the moment that I realized it in some grand gesture of knowing. The truth is that one day when I was 15, I must have decided to introduce myself as “Erin, I use they/them pronouns” in my then-termed Gay-Straight Alliance in high school. Or I announced on Twitter, which at that point only my friends followed, that I was trying out they/them pronouns. One of the two, I can’t remember which came first.

“Nonbinary” fits me like a cycling glove. It’s comfortable for me, it fits me well, but, well, this glove is fingerless—it doesn’t cover all of me. It gives me room to move and breathe but it serves a specific purpose. I use “nonbinary” to explain to others how I feel about my gender, but in reality, it’s much more complicated. Similar to how I’ve seen some other trans people explain, I don’t think there is language to describe how I truly feel about my gender.

Tweet from me, trying to describe my gender. Follow me at erinis_online if you want to see my recent tweets.

Many conversations in my experience of the trans community have shifted over the years from focusing on gender dysphoria as defining transness to focusing on gender euphoria. Both serve their purposes. My high school experiences with gender were largely interweaved with gender dysphoria. Everyone has issues that they struggle with, and mine, among others, often took the form of pangs of jealousy rising from my chest when I looked at the boys in my classes. Broad shoulders, sharp jawlines, and even the ease with which I perceived they embodied reckless, unconcerned masculinity entranced and angered me.

Growing up has helped with this feeling. I think not being in the thick of puberty helped me feel more belonging in my body now, though I do still have those feelings sometimes. These days, conversations about gender euphoria have given me a way to pinpoint my feelings about my gender. It has been helpful for me to feel like there’s a different way to frame gender that doesn’t focus on what I’m lacking.

I used to feel a lot of shame for being nonbinary/trans. I thought it was embarrassing, despite all of the affirming LGBT friends I had and have. But being nonbinary and trans is cool! I feel freer to express and explore who I am and how I show that externally. I’m not completely confident in myself now, but I’m hoping that means I just have something to look forward to.

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