Accepting My Gender Identity



As somebody assigned male at birth (AMAB) who recently came out as non-binary, I’d like to take a moment to describe what my journey of coming to terms with my own identity was like. Looking back on this journey, I can recognize the five stages of grief as I grieved the end of the life I knew, and welcomed all that is yet to come.


*Author's Note: This article is not an attempt to speak to anybody’s experience except for my own. Our stories may look different, but you are still valid in your identity no matter what.

Denial

It’s hard to look at yourself for who you are. It’s harder, still, when you don’t see yourself represented in the media. You hear the whispers from folks who don’t recognize their own ignorance, and the opposition grows oh so loud.


Being pushed into the shadows is a sad reality for many, and I was no different. Only, I didn’t realize this was the case. Growing up, I always showed interest in dolls, makeup, dressing up and other traditionally feminine things. I went to a small, private Christian school from kindergarten through eighth grade, and I remember in kindergarten being told that my “My Little Pony” doll was for girls and something I should feel ashamed for liking. Family members reprimanded me for liking lip gloss and skirts or writing with glitter pens.


All of these events taught me the person I was expected to be, and it can be hard to question what you’ve always known.


Anger

Ever since I was young, I would get so upset when people tried to tell me what I could or couldn't do. People seem to forget that we are all on our own paths in life. My life might not look like your life, but that doesn’t make my life any less valuable than yours. It's wrong for us to write anybody else’s story for them.


When I think of the dark history of colonialism and evangelization, in the Americas in particular, I feel so much sorrow and so much anger for the beautiful souls and ways of life that were pushed into the shadows. The modern queer movement is rooted in these same gender expressions that were oppressed by the colonizers of the 16th century.


When we think about who is intending to write our paths, it can be so upsetting to finally understand the role that these institutions play in dictating who we should and shouldn’t be.


For a brief history about the topic, I encourage you to read the following post by the author, performer, and speaker Alok:


Bargaining

As I started considering the prospect of, "Oh yeah, this is who I am," I still didn’t feel comfortable being open about these thoughts at first. I didn’t really have any close friends or family who are trans or non-binary.


At first, I thought that being non-binary only looked one certain way and behaved one certain way and I didn’t find myself fitting into that mold. I felt excluded from every form of representation I had seen in the media. I felt like an imposter.


I decided to start using he/they pronouns because at the time I didn’t mind being addressed by “he/him” pronouns, but I realized that nobody would ever use “they/them” with me.

Depression

CW: Mention of suicide