Gender has become a hot topic these days. Whether it be about the wage gap, bathrooms, or serving in the military, talk about gender is prevalent and unavoidable unless you are intentionally living under a rock. Throughout the years, I’ve learned a lot about what gender means to people, and about the construct as a whole that society entails. Typically, gender is seen as a binary.
Are you a boy or a girl?
As most of you know, I am a nanny. Last week was the first full week of the two older kids going back to school, so I get to hang out one-on-one with the two-year-old for the majority of my days. On one bright, sunny day we went to the children’s area in the botanical gardens. It’s quite the place if you ever get to go! On this particular day, he (the two-year-old currently goes by male-pronouns) was wearing flip-flops, and if you know him, he loves to have his nails painted just like his five-year-old sister. That day, he just had his toe-nails painted.
Now, typically, he doesn’t get misgendered, sometimes people will ask whether he is a boy or a girl, or about 1% of the time he gets misgendered. That day, simply because his toenails were painted, we heard:
- “Does she like to go down slides?”
- “She can have a boat too.”
- “I’ve known the family for years, and I thought they had a little boy.”
The last one happened while picking up the older kids from school. Someone was discussing the two-year-old’s gender with another adult who knew that he was a boy who liked his nails painted. Then, they brought my attention to their conversation by making light of his interest in nail polish to me. Apparently, they found the interest amusing.
It’s amusing to me in how simply painting one’s nails you can change how the world perceives you.
Before I had the hair style I do now, I had a different style. This blew the five-year-old’s mind. She really found it interesting how I could have hair like a girl and a boy. She would also ask me if I ever wore dresses, because she noticed that I didn’t. I’ve realized this is the most basic form of how society teaches gender. At such a young age, she is learning to assume: short hair is for boys, long hair is for girls. Girls wear dresses, boys don’t.
I’ve mentioned very briefly in this post that I’ve been questioning my gender identity.
Growing up, I’ve always been considered a tomboy. I don’t feel comfortable in skirts or dresses. And despite how much some people commented on how wonderful my long hair was, it didn’t feel like me. Just like how I don’t feel like me when I wear really feminine garb.
Ma’am or Sir?
Now, with how I dress and my haircut, I get people who will both call me ma’am and sir. Sometimes in the same instance. I also feel like they are well-meaning, especially after they are able to see that I have features that are typically female-presenting, like illegal nipples.
I mostly feel okay in my body now that I’ve been working out consistently. I’ve been able to look in the mirror and generally like what I see, it’s a really great feeling. Part of that is wearing the clothes that I feel comfortable in. Part of that is having the hairstyle that I do. I currently don’t feel the need to change anything else about myself, except to continue working out consistently.
Female or Non-binary?
I have, however, been questioning if I really feel like a female, or if I feel more non-binary. The truth is that I don’t really know. I am just starting to question. For me, I feel like I am starting to live my true self. Pronouns are really for how I would want other people to address me. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t care which were used. But I also think that in a perfect world, the default pronouns for anyone would be gender neutral. I mean, we already use that as a default when we don’t have access to assume a person’s gender. For an example of how I hope it is in the future, give my short story a read. Notice how there is no assumed gender, and when they introduce themselves, they indicate their pronouns in a clear and smooth fashion.
However, as far as gender goes, it doesn’t always stop at pronouns. Some opt to change their names. At this time, I love my name, so I don’t think I will change it in the near future, if ever. Although there are definitely a lot of cool names out there. And even though my name is more feminine, I’m fine with that amount of femininity.
Femininity isn’t a bad thing for me. I don’t mind being perceived as a female. However, I do feel like I fit more in the non-binary.
There. It’s out here, in words, on the internet. Before today, I’ve only talked about this briefly with a friend, and a little with my therapist. I’m far from figuring anything out, and I am just starting on this journey of exploring how I want the world to see me. I know how I see me. I see me as a person, more androgynous, with my own style and interests. In my head, I don’t really see myself in a gender. In the mirror, I see the changes that working out has brought, and I feel more comfortable in my own body everyday. There are definitely areas that I think I want to change, as they don’t feel necessarily like me. But we will see what time brings!
What does this mean for you?
So, please feel free to continue using female pronouns, but if you don’t mind using gender neutral pronouns (specifically they/them), it might help me figure out if I want the world to see me as such. Thank you all for your support in my adventure that is life! I think it credits those I have in my life that I can just spring this concept and realization on them without feeling like I need to tell people on the individual level (which I did when I was coming out).
Also, if you want to reach out to me, I could use the supportive words and encouragement. Despite not really fearing banishment from my support system, it really is nerve-wracking to put this out there, especially when in the questioning stage. There’s a lot of anxiety in talking about something you aren’t entirely sure about that really feels like you don’t even have a stable basis of certainty to stand on (unlike when I was coming out and I waited forever to make sure I had this stable certainty).
Thank you all for exploring this space with me! It means more than you know! I appreciate being able to be vulnerable and share my experience with you!