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Woman Adjacent

by Sarah Rhoden 2 months ago in Identity
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A personal account of the complexities of gender and identity

Pride month is over, but the journey of one’s identity is never-ending, and despite coming out a few years ago, my journey continues.

I have been struggling with my gender identity for a while now. Gender can be a confusing and complicated thing sometimes, and it’s taken me years of self-discovery and reflection to figure out this part of who I am.

I was assigned female at birth, raised as a girl, and for most of my life, I have identified as a cis woman. I was fine with she/her pronouns, I presented as a girl, and for the most part I never really thought anything of it. People said I was a girl, they saw me as a girl, and I never experienced any kind of gender dysphoria so... I figured I must be a girl.

It wasn’t until I came out as pansexual a few years ago that I really started thinking more about gender identity. It took me a long time to figure my sexuality out and once the high of being out and proud for the first time had subsided a bit, I felt like there was still something else.

When I started looking back, I realized that while I don’t experience gender dysphoria and being called a woman isn’t particularly uncomfortable, it never really felt completely accurate. I always felt strangely disconnected to the word “woman” and to womanhood in general. Instead of the “fitting a square peg in a round hole” metaphor, my binary female identity felt more like fitting a circular peg into a square hole. Sure, it technically fits in there, but not perfectly. There were still gaps in the corners that I didn’t like being there and it didn’t feel quite right.

So I started thinking I was nonbinary and discovered that I like they/them pronouns as well. But I still wasn’t sure exactly what I was. I didn’t feel genderfluid or agender or bigender. I felt like I was too much of a “woman” to be nonbinary, even if I knew I wasn’t entirely female. I just felt like almost a woman, but not quite. I would joke with my fellow queer friends about being “woman adjacent.”

I’ve struggled with this for a while and continued to educate myself on different nonbinary identities to see what felt right. And I think, at age 25, I’ve finally figured it out. I’m now identifying as nonbinary and specifically as a demigirl, still using she/they pronouns. I’m kind of somewhere in between “nonbinary” and “cis woman” and I feel comfortable there.

Identity in all its parts is a journey that is never really over. There is no destination because that isn’t the point. There is no one fixed point where you are who you’re meant to be. You are meant to change. Who you are today may be different from who you were five years ago or who you will be in another ten years. Knowing who you are does not mean knowing exactly who you will be for the rest of your life. It simply means accepting and understanding who you are at this point in your life.

Gender is confusing sometimes; any part of identity can be. But it is okay to be confused. It’s okay to be unsure of your pronouns or your labels, or to not want to have any labels at all. It’s okay to change your mind about what words feel best to describe you. It’s okay to try different pronouns to see how they feel or to adopt an umbrella term for a while if you’re unsure of a more specific one. However you identify is perfectly okay.

I feel that we as humans like to believe everything in this world is neat, organized and sensible, but that just isn’t the case. We like to think that what we know will not be challenged or changed, that what’s true today will still be true tomorrow. We expect that a chair we sit in will still be a chair in a week, same color, texture, and everything. This isn’t the case with people, however. People are fluid, flexible, ever-changing. We adapt not only to our environment but to our own interpretations of our minds.

Ten years ago I believed I was a girl, and I now know that I am not. This doesn’t mean I was lying to myself or that I must have been terribly unhappy or that something changed to make me “switch” genders. I simply have a new understanding of myself and have found where I’m comfortable, and that’s what identity really is. It isn’t about figuring out the predetermined settings of who you should be. It’s about growing, discovering what makes you feel content within yourself, and creating your personal identity along the way.

I’m glad I seemingly have things figured out now. I say seemingly because I know this might change. I might discover something new and reevaluate myself all over again. But if and when that happens I hope it will be a bit less frustrating and less of a struggle, because I now know who I truly, unwaveringly want to be. I want to be whoever I am comfortable and content with being at any stage in my life. And right now I want to be a pansexual demigirl writing to strangers on the internet, hoping that maybe someone will read this and it will help them on their journey.


About the author

Sarah Rhoden

Writing about anything and everything (from the perspective of a mentally ill, probably autistic, nonbinary, pansexual nerd)

25 she/they

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (6)

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  • Poonam Srivastava2 months ago

    So. Where do you think you might be in ten years? What else is going on around you outside of your intra personal? The interpersonal? The career/craft? I would love to widen the lens and know more of the where all this is taking place and the when.

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  • Ben RS2 months ago

    I'm nonbinary (they/them), and I have no idea how many labels I tried to fit myself into over the years. I ended up just giving up and going with the umbrella term non binary, where on the masc fem both neither spectrum gender identity is made of, often moves just slightly still in the I'm not a boy or a girl section, or anywhere near those for that matter.

  • Dr. Ganesh Dubey2 months ago

    Nice Information

  • good information🥰

  • Autumn Blu2 months ago

    Very well written. A subject near and dear to my heart.

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