I’ve had this post saved in drafts for about two months now. I’ve been hesitant to publish it because I don’t want to do a disservice to anyone, but two things happened within a short time span and it’s time to hit the publish button with a few disclaimers.
Firstly, the stuff that happened… Last night, I decided that I needed to figure out why I have draft posts that are unpublished and make the decision to either publish or delete. Then, this morning, I came across a Facebook status, related to this topic, which really hurt me.
So, it’s time to hit publish, but please note this disclaimer:
This is about me. Only me. Some people might relate to this post, and other people might not. Please do not assume that this post reflects the feelings and experiences of anyone other than me. I do not wish to talk over people with similar experiences, and nor do I wish to pretend that what this post says is generalisable.
So, here I am stepping out of another box.
This blog was started to explore what being autistic means to me following my stepping out of the neurotypical box, but there is another box that I have lived in for a long time that I have stepped out of. That box is the gender identity box.
This is difficult to write about because I don’t think that there are existing words to describe my experience, and I can’t really think of appropriate words either. Nevertheless, I want to write about it because this is an important part of who I am.
I present as a woman. I have
body parts that are traditionally associated with being a female (edited because I now know that this phrasing might be offensive to intersex folk, and I apologise for my yuckiness) a uterus, breasts, and a vagina. These are parts that are traditionally associated with being a female. The problem with body bits is that too often they are conflated with gender, and too often both biological sex and gender are thought of as binaries.
This is inaccurate. Gender is not an either-or man-woman thing. There are a variety of genders that don’t conform to man or woman. Gender is also not the same as biological sex, and biological sex is not binary either.
So, what does all that mean for me?
It means that people see me and assume that I am a woman. I am not. I am not a man either. I am neither and/or both. My gender is not fluid. It is part of who I am. I came to realise this when talking to women. I don’t experience similar feelings of what it is like to be a woman. I see the “I am woman. Hear me roar.” posts and I admire them, but I admire them from the perspective of an observer rather than the perspective of someone who experiences those feelings. I also don’t experience similar feelings of what it is like to be a man. I know this from talking to men.
It has taken me a long time to accept that part of myself. That part that says “you aren’t really either of those.” It has taken me even longer to figure out what to call that part of me.
The nearest that I have been able to find is gendervague, and while it’s imperfect, it’s the best word that exists because I do believe that my gender intersects with my neurodivergence to create this sense of vagueness about my own gender.
What else does this mean?
It means that my pronouns are they/them/theirs. I know that people think that this is grammatically incorrect. People who think that are wrong. I know that people think that this is merely a preference. People who think that are also wrong.
If you are a man, imagine your knee jerk “wait, that’s not right” reaction when people refer to you as she. If you are a woman, imagine your knee jerk “wait, that’s not right” reaction when people refer to you as he. That is how I feel when I read or hear people saying she when they refer to me.
My gender is not an accessory. It’s not a preference. It’s not a T-Shirt to be worn as dictated by the environment. My gender is not something that I can choose to wear, and take off whenever it’s less than comfortable. While many other people may experience gender fluidity, my gender is fixed. It’s fixed at some vague point in the middle or outside of man/woman. My gender is an innate part of who I am and how I experience the world.
Since publishing this, I realised that I have inadvertently copied the title from this series of posts from Musings of an Aspie. This was unintentional, but I have read those posts before so I must have stored the phrase in my memory banks without realising that they came from another writer rather than my own head. I apologise for my unintentional plagiarism, and encourage future readers of this post to check out the linked posts.
This post has been translated into Russian. You can access the translation here.