Gonna preface this with a little disclaimer that I’m going to mention things here that may be sensitive to some, that I’m using the language of a thing which for most of my life I was on the sidelines simply supporting, but only recently joined myself, that there are people who are more well versed in this, more eloquent, and more importantly have a better understanding of the importance of being exact with your language. This post is an attempt to get more familiar with that language. Forgive me if I misstep. Now on with the show.
This summer I realized I wasn’t a man. Funny isn’t it? I fully accepted that the thing society had pressured me into being, and chastized me for never being enough, did not apply to me. A little switch just flipped. In practical terms this realization has changed nothing about how I live my life… Yet. I’ll get to that later. First, let’s rewind. It’s the early 2000s… TWENTY YEARS AGO. Goddamn. I’m in high school and after a good decade of struggling to fit in to place I found difficult to consider my home, I finally have friends. Many of them queer as shit. This matters because… It doesn’t. It was just normal. Even in a country like Aruba, which as a small, somewhat isolated place can be little bit slow on the social issues, especially legally, it was just normal. In high school, at least. Because as much as you have assholes holding onto to a hellscape past that never existed, reality is reality. The reality is these people were always here. The reality is gender is…
Well, let’s fast forward half a decade or so. I’m at the University of Amsterdam, starting on an English degree, and in one of the intro courses we’re running through basic critical theory. Saussure, Barthes, Habermas, Baudrillard, et cetera, et cetera. Names whose ideas I’ve long since forgotten. Then we get to the feminists. Kaplan, Gilbert and Gubar, moving into queer theory with Zimmerman, Lily, and, requiring a massive upgrade to my reading comprehension, Judith Butler. Yes I looked most of these names up again just to sound smart.
I specifically remember a particular lecture, a powerpoint slide beamed onto the screen with a simple chart laying out how biological sex, sexual attraction, and gender expression are entirely separate things, and my friends, this little island child had a revelation. It’s one of those things that makes you slap your legs and go, “Yep, that makes complete sense, I now understand the world better.” I had the same reaction as a kid when evolution was explained to me. It just clicked. The entire house of cards of this social construction fell apart and melted and was set on fire and the ashes were shot into the sun and the sun was thrown into a trasch can. All of a sudden I was afforded a small glimpse into the beautiful infinite complexity of what we experience of the actual unperceivable reality. It was an awakening, and helped make my politics more explicit from that point on. It improved my understanding of the universe, but me? Well I was just a straight little cis boy.
Anyway, then I fell into an entirely unrelated spiral of depression and anxiety and basically turned into a shut-in for a good decade, but that’s a whole other story.
So flash to the present, 2022-ish, I’m much, much older, supposedly wiser, I’m in therapy for avoidant personality disorder, making lots of progress, feeling much more comfortable in my skin, and I’m walking around stating with 110% confidence that gender in its very concept is entirely bullshit, but /still/ calling myself a man. I don’t remember exactly what conked me on the head to realize that that worldview also applies to myself, but as far as I can tell I just woke up one day and said “nah, don’t think so.”
Now, I have no desire to change my body, other than continue to take better care of myself, but I’ve never been the most masculine person anyway. So why call myself a man when I’ve never aspired to be whatever it is to be a man anyway? So I just decided I’m not. Never have been. So in one way nothing changes, yes, but from now on I’m not limiting myself to that label any longer. Along with the gains I’ve gotten from therapy, I’m setting off to explore new ways of dress, new hair styles, new routines of self care. I am freeing myself to be comfortable with who I am. Shit, I’m even declaring that I may have thoughts worth sharing!
This newfound freedom is why I don’t particularly care to label it either. I’m sticking with the term “enbyous” for now because it’s funny and somewhat accurately denotes my self-imposed in exploring this expanded identity. Still don’t entirely feel comfortable calling myself queer because that was the domain of my friends, not me. Surely not me! That’s not a lack of self-acceptance talking, by the way, but more needing to adjust to a new position in the dynamic. I understand the power of labeling it, and why others may benefit from doing and doing it firmly to really put that identiy in focus, but I just don’t necessarily feel like it works for me. I suppose I’m aspirationally living towards a world in which the labels are no longer necessary because the infinite plurality of human expression is the norm. Kinda the whole point of getting rid of the binary, maybe?
Same thing with the pronouns. Gendered pronouns are dumb, and languages that use them are dumb, but I find they/them in English to be too clunky to apply to myself. Although to be entirely fair I use it without a second thought for friends and strangers alike, so who the fuck knows where that will go. But for now I’m perfectly okay to stick with the he/hims. A somewhat sad side note of that is I don’t at all expect society in general to stop gendering me as male, because that’s still the construction of the world we live in, and my appearance is unlikely to ever skew too far from masculine. Although, just pointing out just for the Official Record that I’m unlikely to suffer even a millionth of the negative effects as those who present a lot more against the norm. But that doesn’t mean I won’t find sneaky ways to rebel, or nefariously influence the youth (who already understand this shit better than any of us anyway.)
I don’t know if these words make any sense. I’m still terrified that I have said something ignorant or terribly offensive or uninformed or insert overly critical term here. But I redesigned this website specifically so I could have room for a blog to express these kinds of thoughts, since tweets are too short and as of November 2022 it’s not looking good for that place anyway, so now I’ve said them, and if you’re reading them that means I actually copy/pasted it from notepad into WordPress, so I guess I must’ve been somewhat happy with it. Thanks for reading!
Oh yeah, and consequently and for exactly the same reasons as my gender revelation I realized I was pan too, lol.