Letter from a Nonbinary Person
Let’s address the elephant in the room: I am nonbinary. I identify as genderfluid, which is very easily explained by its name. It means that some days I feel pulled more at a masculine level, others feminine, and others both or even neither. These phases last for days, or weeks, or months or even years for some people. And it is totally a real thing. Dysphoria is not made up, and it is one of the most uncomfortable feelings a person can experience.
Try to put yourself in a NB (nonbinary) person’s shoes. You are a boy, but you are forced to wear clothes that make you uncomfortable and sit quietly. You can’t play your favorite sport, and instead you are forced to cheerlead; you are expected to act well mannered at all times and are to be seen and not heard. Or the other way: you aren’t allowed to wear any makeup even though you feel incredibly out of place without it, you are expected to be strong and to never show emotions, to go out for sports and you would much rather become a dancer. You would constantly feel miserable and out of place.
Sometimes when I ask people to use the pronoun “they/them” when referring to me, the person will respond with, “Oh, it makes me feel weird because that’s not proper grammar. Will you just pick one?” It’s crushing to hear that they care more about grammar than how you feel, and respecting you as a person. One of the hardest things for me was to accept how I felt, and it was even harder to tell my friends. It makes me so sad when I look up nonbinary and some of the first search results are cringe compilations and rant articles. Both are blatant homophobia and not only upsetting to see, but scary.
My father can sometimes be transphobic. I feel so unsafe when I hear him talk about trans and nonbinary people. He has no wrong intentions, but what he says is very bluntly homophobic. I do not have a chest binder, I am expected to always dress feminine, I can’t come out to my family or teachers, and I don’t want anybody to feel anywhere near like I do. I’m hoping that if anything, this teaches you that tolerance is important. Last year, at school, I met someone who also identified as nonbinary, and although I was calm when I met them, that night at home I cried for a very long time. Although this time I cried not out of fear or sadness, but out of relief and joy that there was someone out there like me. Someone who felt the same way. I was so overcome with joy that there were other people like this, that I realized something that has stuck with me ever since. Wallowing in self pity, fear, and sadness helps nobody, especially not yourself. (Not to say that you can’t have a good cry once in awhile). What helped me most was one person’s kindness and openness. I was at one of the worst times of my life when I met this person, and ever since I’ve always kept in my head a golden philosophy, which is that kindness and bravery come around. I may not be here if not for this wonderful person. They weren’t kind to me because they knew I was going through hard times, they were simply kind out of the goodness of their heart and those few lunches we ate together made my life one worth living.
It’s so easy to be tolerant, and I want to try and share some knowledge so that people who identify as gender-nonconforming can feel a bit more comfortable, and you won’t have to feel awkward when you don’t know what to do
If you mess up on someone’s name/pronouns
It’s totally normal to mess up at first, but you should work to grow so you and your friend can feel more comfortable. If you do mess up, though, correct yourself and move on. Don’t make a huge deal about it! Just quickly correct the mistake and move past it, and everyone will leave happy.
If you don’t know what pronouns to use and/or make an incorrect assumption
If you don’t know what name/pronouns to use, ASK. You can be subtle or upfront. If you’re embarrassed, ask if there’s any nicknames they go by.
If you wrongly assume someone identifies differently, apologize and fix your mistake. Don’t try to justify yourself! It’ll only make things worse. Just correct yourself and move on.
If you’re unsure
Ask! Ask about anything you feel unsure about. It’s better to ask than to assume.
I hope some of you found this helpful. Or maybe you thought it was all really stupid, I don’t know. But I hope you can walk away from this having learned something, whether it be a profound revelation or the smallest trivia fact, I hope this has somehow taught you something. And with that, I’m out.