Coming Out As Non-Binary With An Enby-Love and WLW Playlist
Hello, my name is Em and I am not a girl
I'm 26-years-old and have been "out" (in one way or another) since I was 14. Yet, I am still "figuring out" my sexuality.
Last year's Pride 2021, I was in a straight-passing relationship and hadn't come out to anyone (not even myself) as non-binary.
I experience both gender dysphoria and body dysmorphia, but because I’m feminine-presenting most of the time, I felt like an imposter asking to be called "they/them." I didn't feel like I had any claim to the term non-binary.
What I didn't fully realize then, was that gender expression does not have to reflect gender identity. Not only that, but gender itself is a spectrum.
As I began to experiment with my gender expression more, though, I slowly realized how much gender euphoria could be experienced when I gave myself the freedom to explore the space between the gender binary.
"Downtown" by Godford
I reminded myself that non-binary doesn’t have one look to it. In fact, that's part of the point.
The space between the binary isn’t meant to be another box.
Personally, I feel gender euphoria when I wear my Doc Martens. I love the way my Docs give me a little extra height. Plus, they make me feel sturdy and badass.
I’m also excited to purchase a binder to help with my body dysmorphia.
And yet, I still enjoy wearing mascara.
There are days when I want to rock a dress with my Doc Martens.
And yet, there are days when I want to stuff my hair into a beanie and wear men’s jeans.
What really matters is that I’m learning to listen to myself and how my body feels. I’m honoring and making room for my identity in my day-to-day life. Sometimes, that looks like listening to how my body feels and dressing for my own identity. Other times, it looks like reminding people of my pronouns.
I’ve learned that when I create space to express my gender identity, I honor my adult self, as well as my inner child.
"Talk That Talk" by Ivy Sole
When I first came out to my parents, they were supportive but confused.
Reminiscing over my childhood together brought back memories of frilly dresses and Barbie-themed birthday parties. Back then, I loved princesses and pink. I think I even said I wanted to be a ballerina at some point.
I knew that my parents wouldn’t have known how often I cried in my elementary days, asking people not to call me a “girl.”
Even my imaginary friend, “Recka” would go back and forth between being a “boy” or a “girl,” between being “giant” or “small.” No matter what, though, it was always the same “Recka” to me.
When I hit puberty in the fifth grade, I remember layering on my sports bras in an attempt to “get rid” of my breasts. When I went bra shopping with my mother, I would try on bra after bra, desperate to find one that would make me flat. After what felt like hours, my mother would beg me to come out of the fitting room, and I would end up leaving empty-hearted.
When I changed my name in ninth grade to Shiloh because Emily was “too feminine” it was because I “was a tomboy.”
And when I changed my name back to Emily in tenth grade, it was because I was “finally growing up.”
Meanwhile, I wasn’t growing up. I was just getting better at shoving my true self down.
Although I’ve never felt comfortable being called “girl” or “woman,” I didn’t think there was anything to do about it back then except just “get used to it.”
So, I continued to try and “get used” to my assigned gender.
Until I learned that there was a space for me.
Until I learned that I wasn’t alone.
"Frustrated" by Lauren Sanderson
My parents are supportive and love me no matter what, but their confusion made me think back to all of the frustrations I’d had with my gender when I was growing up.
Frustrations that I often didn’t give myself a chance to think about, feel through, regulate, or talk openly about.
Even when I did a performance as a drag king in University, I shoved down the gender euphoria I felt at seeing my bound chest and glued-on facial hair. I loved the way my fake beard looked with my long blond curls and men’s clothing…
But instead, I told myself that I just loved playing dress-up.
"Vest and Boxers" by Lava La Rue
Then, one day in 2022, my housemate asked me:
“So… what are your pronouns?”
At that moment, all of the questions I’d had surrounding my gender came rushing forward. I hesitated.
I had never really talked about my gender out loud, before. After a moment, I mumbled something like:
“Um, I don’t really know. I’ve never really felt like a girl… but I dress like one most of the time. So…”
My housemate then asked me if I wanted to be called “they.”
For some reason, that was an easier question to answer.
I nodded and said, “I think so.”
After that, I noticed the little smile that my heart gave inside whenever I would be referred to as, “they” or “them.”
It only took one person asking about and using my pronouns to help me feel more comfortable in my gender identity and expression.
That was when I finally found the words to come out to my parents with:
"Foreigner" by BAYLI
The thing is, my parents didn't see those moments from my childhood, and they still respect my identity. They trust in my lived experiences, even the ones they didn't witness themselves.
I am so grateful for my parents' allyship in this way. 💗
When people remember to call me "they," it makes me feel like I can exhale.
When people make efforts at remembering to say, “they” or to call me, “Em” instead of, “Emily,” that also goes a long way.
"Jungle" by Tash Sultana
Recently, a friend and I were talking over Instagram about the process of navigating gender and sexual identities. We had both found that listening to other people’s stories, struggles, journeys, and victories helped us to find the pieces of our own puzzles.
As I’ve begun exploring the works of other genderfluid and non-binary creators, I’ve gotten to know myself so much more.
"Them" by FLAVIA
Even more than that, reaching out to and connecting with friends within the LGBTQIA+ community has made my own journey so much less lonely.
Although, I’ve had a tendency to retreat into a bubble of isolation when I feel vulnerable or confused, learning how to pop that bubble has allowed me to make more genuine connections with the people in my life. When I am honest about who I am and how I’m feeling, it opens up the possibility for deeper relationships with the people I love.
I’m learning that I don’t have to struggle alone.
But more importantly, I’m learning that I don’t have to celebrate alone either.
"Queen" by G Flip
Last year, I wrote:
“You can feel Pride in the parts of yourself you haven’t even met yet.”
This year, I’m learning just exactly what that means.
Happy Pride and remember:
You are so loved.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my coming-out piece in celebration of Pride month. I'd also like to take a moment to thank Lena Borondia for her editing skills, as well as, Call Me Les and the Vocal Social Society for putting together this year's Pride issue of the Vocal Creators Chronicle.
If you enjoyed this piece and would like to let me know, please feel free to reach out to me on Instagram, Twitter, or Discord! Tips are never an obligation, however, they are always deeply appreciated!
Thank you again for your support.
I hope that you found something in here that made your day a little bit brighter. 💗
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This is so beautifully written - so honest and true. Thank you for sharing the fullest evolution of your humanity with us on this platform. Its a gift, and I'm grateful.
I'm so glad you have supportive parents and friends. And I loved when you said gender is a spectrum
This was so beautiful and I cried reading this. I know everyone has their own story to tell, and this is one that needs to be told. So many people have been scared to live their truth because reflections of their stories are muddied and sensationalized. You are a gem and so easy to relate to and your vulnerability and writing style are truly so touching. Please don’t ever stop telling your story and sharing it with the world; it inspires others to tell their’s. It’s truly an honor to call you a friend Em ❤️