What makes non-binary gender real? Is it social acceptance? Is it a box on a form? Is it your decision to legally recognise it?
No! Non-binary gender is real because we feel it, we are it, we LIVE it.
What is a man? What is a woman? What does YOUR gender mean to you? How can you explain it to me, describe to me exactly how it feels to you to be a man, a woman? Have you ever wondered why you accepted your gender as it was given to you?
Privilege! That’s why you accepted it without ever knowing what it feels like to be told that you are something that you are not.
Judith Butler tells us that gender is ‘performative’. Many people misunderstand the meaning of this word. Performative does not mean ‘to perform’. In this context it means that gender is believed to be static through the effect of reiterated acting, while obscuring the contradictions & instability of an individual’s gender act.
In this way the narrative of binary gender, of male and female polarities, of what “true gender” is, is reinforced through the punishment of those individuals whose gender act refuses to believe in the lies, and by the concealment of individual variations.
Because my gender, by its very existence, refutes the idea of the gender binary, society decides that it’s easier for me not to exist than to coexist, and I am denied, by consensus, access to my truth.
Yet I cannot stop being me. To do so would destroy me from the inside out. Why do you think the incidence of suicide is so much drastically higher in the trans community than in the cisgender population? I have tried to hide myself, to push myself away by wearing other cloaks, putting on others’ masks. The problem with a mask is that it cannot conceal forever. Eventually the cloak falls away, the mask disintegrates, and we have to construct a new costume to conceal ourselves within.
The further down inside we push ourselves, the smaller our fire becomes until eventually it goes out completely. Without the fire, we have no energy, no light, no warmth. Life becomes dark, cold, tiring. Those around us do not know our truth, who we are. We feel like frauds in our own life. How can I know who my true friends are when they don’t know who I am? In the emptiness, it seems that there is only one way to escape.
Some people succumb to the darkness. Others manage fight back, often at the expense of losing EVERYTHING.
How can our loved ones not love us? How can they have been so easily fooled by the masks, the cloaks, the costumes? Surely they must have known, really deep down, who I was? They were just playing along with the game.
Truths cannot be denied. And we cannot hide from ourselves forever. Yet we only do so because you make it so. You douse our fires and shovel dirt over the smoke. No more!
I do not deny the existence of your gender simply because I don’t experience it. All I ask is that you pay me the same courtesy. Make good for your mistakes, it’s not too late…