How do I know if I'm Non-Binary?

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Post by UristMcBunny on Fri Feb 13, 2015 4:14 pm

Okay so… prepare for a long rambling self-wank about my complete lack of certainty about my identity.

Feeling a bit confused about stuff.  I identify as cis.  Have done since I learned the word existed (thank you, Tumblr, for teaching me less shitty ways of saying “I’m not trans”!).

But, at the same time, I’ve always considered myself kind of “manly”.  My other half jokes about it with me, too - his awesome, manly girlfriend.  I mean, gender is a spectrum, and social constructs of masculine and feminine are just that -social constructs.  But…

Well, I notice I feel like I “get it” when I read little personal-experience things by some non-binary people - more than I do for other stuff.  Most recently, for example, someone describing themselves as feeling more masculine than they present physically, so always being caught off-guard when their friendly conversation with a straight dude turns out to have been that dude attempting to come onto them.  And I was like, Yes!  This!  This is me!

But I mean…  I don’t know if that’s what *I* am?  I mean, I don’t know if I’m enough of… whatever it is you need to be… to count.  Or even, I’m not sure what I need to have *to* count.

People talk about knowing your gender, or feeling like your gender fits you, but I just kind of… don’t feel any particular way about it at all.  Like, I honestly don’t feel repulsed by my identity as a woman, but I also really don’t care much about it either, except so far as being relatively feminine-of-appearance and raised as a woman in a sexist world gives me a particular experience and perspective.

I mean, I know my mannerisms are pretty stereotypically masculine.  And I would kind of like to grow a beard.  And I sometimes wish I could just take a big pair of cartoon scissors and snip my breasts off like they were made of plasticine.  And sometimes when I fantasise about sex, especially when it’s fantasies about women, I’m generally humping away like I’ve got a penis.  Actually it’d be kind of cool to be able to have one some of the time.  But I also kind of love the shape of my body, with my massive hips and pendulous breasts and thick thighs, and how I look so much like the women in my family.  And I love wearing dresses and leggings and frilly stuff, but I also really like wearing men’s shirts and flat boots and slicking my hair back.  And I kind of would really like to own a binder for some days.  And I kind of think the most awesome way for me to be *me* would be if I woke up tomorrow to find I was a Tolkein dwarf - all I’d need is a beard, since I’m already short and stocky and strong.  And I've never once cared if someone misgendered me, and IRL go by a shortened version of my name that sees me frequently assumed to be a man.  And I love the fact that I'm hairy, and if I was suddenly single I would be so incredibly tempted to have a breasts-to-nothing reduction and shave my hair off and stuff, and I already really really want to get big, beefy muscles on my arms and legs.  But I also love how soft bits of me are sometimes.  I kind of feel like I want to be able to flip a switch each morning that lets me have either a masculine or feminine appearance... and then say fuck it and wear stuff that is typically associated with the other.  And I'm almost exclusively attracted to/interested in fictional characters and deities and people who in some way cross prescribed gender lines.  And since my actual sexuality is such a confused mess for me I'm not sure if the attraction aspect of that is me being sexually attracted to such or wanting to be such.

But I mean, I don’t feel like I’m suffering at all for identifying as cis.  I don’t feel like I’m living a lie or like I’m constrained from expressing myself any more than any other cis woman in this world.  And I don’t know what actually constitutes being non-binary or gender-queer the way I can understand that a trans person specifically identifies with a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth/socialised to.

I mean, this shit is confusing.  And I’m already not very good at figuring out what I am - I’ve gone from identifying as bisexual, to pansexual, to queer, to “fuck if I know, but I like these people” over the years.  I just… I don’t even know where to start.  Or even if there’s anything I *need* to start.

So.  How, exactly, does one figure out if one is non-binary?

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Post by Enail on Fri Feb 13, 2015 5:11 pm

This isn't something I know a lot about, so please take with a grain of salt, but...maybe it would help you figure things out to think about why you want to figure it out - what do you think would be different for you if you did count? When you think, "I don't know where to start," what is it that makes you start thinking about starting?

I don't think you need to start anything if you don't want to. You're not suffering id'ing the way you do now, you don't feel like it's constraining you, so I can't think of any reason you can't, if you choose, just stick with the label you've been going with till now, and talk about the details of what you feel about your gender when they come up. Think about what works for you and the way you fit into the world, not what you feel like you're supposed to do if you feel X or Y, or if society sees you as Z.
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Post by UristMcBunny on Fri Feb 13, 2015 5:43 pm

I guess, I kind of feel like if I can figure this out, maybe I can get the whole issue with my sexuality figured out, too? Like, maybe once I make sense of my own identity, how it relates to the attraction I feel will be easier to parse out? Losing my sense of self in terms of my sexuality really sucked, and mostly the reason it's been something I could deal with is because I'm still in the same long-term relationship I was in when that happened, so the actual answer wouldn't have changed much, but it does get to me sometimes.

That, and I almost feel like... I dunno. This bit is completely stupid. But, like I would feel more free to just be myself if I could have a word that would let me make sense of it. You know? It's not a big painful thing. But it's something I keep coming back to and dwelling on.

I kind of have a lot of areas where I lack labels. I was never given an actual official diagnosis for my chronic mental health issues - the doctors never told me what I had, they just treated me for it, and the meds they gave me are used to treat a whole spectrum of things. I don't have my sexuality pinned down any more, and my gender is this whole confused mess I just posted about. I'm kind of... floating? I'd like to have some words I can use - I don't expect any of them to fit me perfectly, but it'd help, I think. And also maybe help me find people who get what I'm talking about when I talk about how certain things make me feel, if I had some terms I could use to help me find such communities. I don't really have much community around me, although I keep trying to build some.

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Post by Enail on Fri Feb 13, 2015 6:09 pm

Oh, yeah, I can definitely see why you'd want to figure it out and maybe find an appropriate label, then! The way you'd phrased it in the first post, I sort of got the idea that it was more something you felt external forces were asking you to have a specific answer for even though you were comfortable not having one.

It seems like there's two things going on here: you want to have a sense of yourself that you can grab hold of, and you want to have a shorthand that fits that you can use functionally, to help you find community. Yeah?

In that case, maybe trying out some labels and some communities in low-key, safe ways would be helpful? I'm sure there must be some non-binary spaces online, where you could go and introduce yourself as maybe non-binary, or questioning, or cis-ish, whatever you feel comfortable trying, and just see how you feel about identifying yourself that way and interacting with people from that starting point.  

Another idea, and this sounds pretty silly, but it kind of works with the way I tend to think about identity, so maybe it would work for other people too - try drawing pictures of different versions of you or taking photos of yourself dressed in ways that epitomize various shapes of gender identity that you think might be right or that you're curious about, and actually write a label on them or say out loud "this person is non-binary"/refer to yourself as "they" or whatever pronoun you think might work/etc. Just see how you respond to seeing/hearing/speaking that label about you, that way of envisioning yourself. Things sometimes feel different when they're out in the world in a way you can look at instead of just imagined in your head, so maybe it would be a way to help you unpack what's going on in your head and see how it might fit together.
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Post by UristMcBunny on Fri Feb 13, 2015 6:12 pm

Okay, everything you just wrote sounds like a fantastic set of suggestions for me to start going along with! Thank you!

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Post by BasedBuzzed on Fri Feb 13, 2015 7:31 pm

Also note the possibility that a label you choose doesn't have to be permanent: you can shift from one to another if you think/feel it actually fits you more over the course of time. From some of the stuff I've read, there can sometimes be the fear that you're appropriating a gender identity(especially if it has a subculture attached to it): you've already done a lot of thinking about it, so squash any notions of impostor syndrome, and rigidly enforce your boundaries against anyone trying to police your experimenting.

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Post by JP McBride on Fri Feb 13, 2015 11:31 pm

I came across a nice line on Tumblr the other day.

I still somewhat stubbornly still call myself cis because I define that term as “I was assigned this gender marker and don’t really feel the need to bring it back to the store,” even if that motivation is partly “the store doesn’t stock any options I like better.”

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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Sat Feb 14, 2015 4:53 am

Don't know if this will help but when the conversation starts getting in depth I say something like "I'm a straight cis male, giver or take 10% on each," then proceed to do whatever I'm comfortable with without much though to whether it fits the labels. Then again, I admit there's a pretty big advantage in terms of support systems for defaulting to the. . .er. . .cultural default without being hung up on being a perfect match.

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