What being non-binary means to me

written by Skye

(they/them)

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When I was fourteen, one of my friends came out as non-binary. It was the first time I had heard of such a thing and I was not prepared to have a conversation about it; I didn’t know what to say or how to act or how on earth I was supposed to console my friend who was desperately trying to work out how to tell their parents. But we started to use a different name and different pronouns for my friend, and life went on as normal. Yet I just could not stop thinking about it. It had become one of those moments when there was a before and an after, before I knew what non-binary was, and after. 


I was fixated, and I was not happy about it. I started to resent my friend for coming out, I resented that everyone was using they/them pronouns to refer to them. It took me a long time to realise that I was jealous. Not of the attention like most fourteen-year olds would be. No, I was jealous because I wanted it to be me coming out.
Since then I’ve known I’m not cisgender, but that was the easy bit. In the past four years I’ve been through, four genders, three names, and hundreds of different labels. By this I mean, I’ve tried to fit myself in lots of different boxes and never quite felt like they were right for me, there has always been a part of my gender that doesn’t fit the definition. For a while I thought I was agender, but I do have a gender, its just not male or female, so that label didn’t work for me. I tried genderfluid but my gender doesn’t fluctuate, it feels very fixed so that wasn’t right either. I used demi-girl and bi-gender and a host of others and I was getting more and more distraught as I kept having to discard labels that didn’t fit and continue the search for a new one. 


It took a few more years of learning about myself to realise that, I could do away with labels completely and that’s okay! I don’t need to label every aspect of myself to be valid and deserving of respect. I could use non-binary as an identity, even though it is an umbrella term for scores of other identities. I like being non-binary and it’s taken me a lot of work to get to a place where I can say that, but it’s a very nice place to be. 


I like the ambiguity, there’s no box for me to force myself into because there is no set way to be non-binary. As a label I find it comforting, and non-restrictive, like metaphorical baggy t-shirt! I like the diversity, and the community, because it is a label that has spanned races and ages and history. There are no gender roles for the non-binary community. We don’t have to cut our hair to a certain length or shave our legs or not wear skirts. I can wear a dress and be just as gender non conforming as I am when I wear a suit, because there is no one way for us to exist.


Being non binary means, I’m not male, and I’m not female, but I can be anything else that I want to be.