CW: Suicidal thoughts.
Happy Pride Month, everybody! I don’t know about you, but I’m proud to still be alive.
My name is Fe, and I’m nonbinary. I use this term because it’s the most well-known, but really my gender is pretty complicated. Genderqueer or bigender are probably most accurate to my identity; although, honestly, sometimes I wish “chaos” was a gender option on questionnaires and internet profiles because my gender is a little chaotic sometimes.
You might be asking, “How is this relevant to suicide prevention?” But gender can actually have a huge impact on mental health. For years, I’d felt passively (or actively) suicidal for more than half of my waking moments. But ever since I started transitioning, ever since I allowed myself to finally start being my authentic self, my suicidal thoughts have decreased exponentially. Right now, I’m mentally healthier than I’ve ever been before, and even though being true to myself isn’t the only reason that I’m better than I used to be, it’s a huge part of the equation.
I was assigned female at birth. For 20 years, I tried to shove myself into the mold of “girl” or “woman.” I tried so hard to look and act in ways that were socially acceptable for a girl, but it just didn’t work. No matter how hard I tried, I was always an outcast in that way. Not only was trying to perform like a “girl” a futile effort, but I was miserable because of it.
Before I started transitioning, I never felt at home in my body. It was like I was stuck in a plastic doll instead of a body that felt like my own. For those of you who are cis (not trans), imagine waking up one day as the opposite sex. Think of the wrongness you’d feel. The body wouldn’t feel like your’s anymore, would it? It wouldn’t feel like you. That’s how I felt when I started puberty. But now that I’ve transitioned and I’m allowing myself to show who I am inside on the outside, I feel liberated.
Before I started taking hormones, looking in the mirror was like looking at a stranger. I avoided it, most of the time. But in the summer of 2018, I was forced to finally admit to myself that I’d never be happy as I was and that I’d probably be happier if I transitioned, no matter how scary it was to come out to anyone (even to myself).
At first, I tried to be a trans guy. People seemed to be more willing to accept that idea than the idea of me not being a girl or a guy. It was hard enough to convince some people to even use he/him pronouns for me, and I at least felt more at home in my skin looking masculine than I ever did looking feminine.
After using he/him pronouns for about a year, though, I realized that I couldn’t fit into the box of “man” either. I’m not a man or a woman, and I couldn’t force myself to be either. The thing is, no one can make themself be a different gender than they are. Gender isn’t like the sex of your body, it’s who you are on the inside, whether or not you express it on the outside too.
I was blown away by how at home I felt in my skin once I started being both masculine and feminine. I had a beard and a deeper voice by then, and I loved them both, but the combination of feminine clothes and my beard are usually what make me feel most like myself. Sometimes I prefer to dress masculinely, and on some rare occasions I shave my beard off and hide it with makeup, but I am, as a whole, bigender. I’m nonbinary, both masculine and feminine but neither a man nor a woman. There are spectrums of genders: it’s not all black and white.
After coming out as trans, I joined multiple trans support groups on Facebook. I also ended up moving out of a small town and into a city with a much bigger queer community. I started seeking out other trans people, and I have met countless trans people by now. I hang out in queer spaces a lot, like my college’s Queer Resource Center, and I feel at home there. I’ve talked extensively about being trans in therapy, and I’m currently at a point where I’m able to accept myself as I am, despite living in a world full of transphobia, because I’ve realized that I’m not alone and that my gender is valid.
If you’re trans or even questioning your gender, whether or not you’re out of the closet, I want you to know that your gender is valid and that you are not alone. Whether or not you physically transition, your gender is valid. Whether or not you’re out of the closet, you are valid. You are loved and you are beautiful.