Out and about in Wellington

Wellington was wonderful (despite the less than stellar weather). And the conference was amazing. As well as reminding me that being involved in the union wasn’t all hard work, and there’s actually a lot about it that I miss, being in a queer space for the first time was incredible – just being in amongst all those people who are fully embracing their identities was so inspiring. And it made me realise it’s about time I embraced my own identity in a more visible way (not that I’ve exactly hidden it, it’s just that I haven’t outright told a lot of people). So I suppose this is something of a coming out post.
I’m non-binary.  That means I don’t see myself as either a woman or a man, but as something… in-between?  off to one side?  none of the above?  I’m not sure exactly where my gender lies, but I just know it’s not at either of those binary poles.  It means I fall under the transgender umbrella, but doesn’t mean I’m going to “transition” as such – for me, this is more about how I feel on the inside than how I look on the outside.  I have, though, been gradually asking people in more areas of my life to use they/them/their pronouns for me (instead of she/her/hers), which is such a little thing, but surprisingly huge in how good it makes me feel when I hear it.
This isn’t exactly a sudden thing – when I look back over my life, I can recognise that the feeling was there all along, it’s just that I didn’t have a name for it.  It’s only in the last few years, as gender identities have become more widely discussed, that I came across the concept of non-binary genders, and a very large light-bulb clicked on in my head – ever had one of those moments when you learn something, and suddenly everything in your life makes a lot more sense? Yeah, that. It took me a couple of years of exploring the idea, and talking it through at great length (sorry!) with a couple of super diversity-aware friends (it does help to work in the Arts sometimes 🙂 ) before I felt ready to start slowly mentioning it to family and close friends (and apologies if you’re in that category and I didn’t tell you in person – it’s no reflection on how much I value you as a friend, it’s more that I didn’t want to do a big “coming out” announcement to anyone, so I mostly only mentioned it to people if the topic of gender happened to come up in conversation).
But yeah, as I said, now it feels like the right time to make that big announcement.  So, hello world, this is me, I’m a non-binary person.
P.S. Another post to follow (probably not until the weekend) with photos and stories from the rest of the weekend, but this post is getting a bit long, and I think I’ve over-stretched the definition of a tea break, so I really should get some work done!
P.P.S. I’m happy to answer questions (even those of a “101” nature) in the comments below.

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  1. I know that we have had many conversations about this and I still feel that there is a big problem with the need to label people. It great that being non-binary finally gives a answer to how you feel. I also understand that it is how you feel as a person.
    Other people have given me so many labels over the years that I personally have decided that I am a one-off and refuse to be pigeon-holed. Some of the labels used for me have been nymphomaniac, weird, not-normal, unnatural and strange. Weird would be the main word used for me. I decided a long time ago that I like the word eccentric but again it is a label. Why can’t I just be Lesley. The fact that I hate shopping (except for books), fashion,dresses, high heels, make-up, children, babies and anything else that is supposed to be ‘normal’ for a woman shouldn’t mean that somehow I am abnormal. So what if I happen to like spiders, skeletons, bats, electronic stuff etc. I also like knitting, sewing and spinning wool but do I do ‘normal’ knitting, no I do yarnbombing, So what?
    I am now getting the ‘at your age you shouldn’t be doing that.’ Why not?
    Sorry didn’t mean to high-jack your post.

    1. I think, as we talked about, the problem is with other people trying to impose labels. Identity is something that can only come from within – nobody can tell you what your identity is, and there are no rules (or, at least, should be no rules) that say “If you are X, then you must dress/behave/think this way”.
      That’s the important distinction that needs to be made, I think – between labels, which are imposed by others (and I think often say a lot more about the insecurity of the person trying to pin the label on you), and identity, which is something you can only apply to yourself, and has nothing to do with how other people see you.
      Non-binary isn’t a label to me, because I can’t imagine anyone would ever look at me and say “Ah, must be non-binary, you can tell just by looking” (I don’t exactly appear androgynous, even with the short haircut). It’s an identity, because it expresses who I am on the inside.

  2. I came here looking for a post about your long hair, didn’t want to comment on facebook photos as I know you’re not a big fb person and also in case there was a bad reason you’d cut all your long hair off. I’m guessing this is possibly why?
    I’m glad you’re feeling more comfortable in yourself.
    Jess has a non binary friend but she wants people to call her Them instead of gendered pronouns, which can get complicated! I still have trouble remembering to call my eldest she instead of he.

    1. No, no bad reason for cutting off my hair – sorry to worry you! Deciding to cut it off was actually mostly just because I felt like a change, so thought I might as well do something really drastic – the fact that it matches my gender identity is just a nice bonus 🙂
      I think it’s great how young people are so much more aware of gender and much more confident in their identities these days. I sometimes wonder how my life would have been different if I’d known that non-binary was an option when I was young, instead of taking until my 40s to learn about it.
      I don’t think I knew that your eldest is a she? Probably a sign that I should look at facebook occasionally…

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