Gray recently posted some of their thoughts around being nonbinary, transitioning and coming out. To be honest, I loved that post so much that I immediately messaged them to let them know, which is something I tend to have difficulty stopping myself from doing.
I told them about the things I could relate with (I’m nonbinary and I identify as genderfluid) and the things I experienced differently – namely, how I like the state of aspiration that comes with being between selves. Gray suggested I write a response post about the state of aspiration! So, here we are.
In their post, Gray expressed feeling frustrated with the “state of aspiration,” a term coined by Joshua Rothman that Gray reinterpreted in light of identifying as nonbinary. My understanding of this state is that it is the state of changing, rather than the state of having changed. Change is not “complete” as much as we’d like it to be. I guess I live in a constant state of aspiration. I’m always asking questions, changing my mind, redefining myself and my life, re-evaluating my decisions. I think I’d be miserable if it wasn’t the case.
Sometimes I revel in the shape of my body and I accentuate it however I can. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I think it’s completely wrong. Sometimes it’s just there, and like, whatever, I guess I need a body, right? But at the end of the day, I like my body. I refuse to be made to feel like my body is wrong.
And if you dislike your body, for whatever reason, if you want to change it, permanently or not, that’s totally ok and valid and worthy of support. But it’s not my situation. I love my body because sometimes I adore it. And yeah, sometimes I think it should be completely different, but those days don’t erase the days I love it. It’s like… will you get rid of your backyard because you can only garden in the summer? No. But if you never garden, then by all means, sell that backyard, my friend.
I mean. It's your backyard. Do what you want with it, it's all cool.
Shitty metaphor aside, this is what I want to say. I am so many people. I am one person, and that person is always the same, but I see it like a container, a person-shaped cauldron, and inside so many people are flowing. And I like that when I am one particular person more than the others I am not completely that person. Because it leaves space for the others to come.
Lately I’m a prickly theatre director, the kind of demanding jerk with big visions, big opinions, big emotions. He wears draping, colourful, dramatic clothes. He gets called “grumpy” a lot, which always confuses him, because he sees the beauty so much. He knows joy and he knows pain and he knows they come from the same place. He sees people not as who they are, but as who they could be, and that’s why he comes across as both overenthusiastic and overdemanding. Anyway. I use “he,” but he’s also loosely based around High School Musical’s Ms. Darbus (what an icon), and sometimes he doesn’t feel like a “he,” either.
Is it weird that I’m talking about a part of myself in the third person? Yeah, totally. I just want to emphasize that it’s a part of myself. It’s not all of myself.
So, what’s the plan? The plan is to live my gender authentically every moment I can and want to. And for me, that gender is the space between selves, and that’s ok, just as someone else’s gender might most decidedly not be in that in-between space. Gender is so… everything. Multidimensional. Vast. There are so many different genders, and then there’s the space between those genders, and that space is genders too. Unless that’s not what you want to call it.
And it’s all ok.
Before I finish this, I just want to say: I think the way we view gender is heavily tinted by our upbringing, how the world tried to fit us in certain categories, how rigid those categories were. In this way, I am conscious that my upbringing was unusual and my parents, very gender nonconforming (especially in the context of 90s-00s rural Canada). When I wrote, in my intro post, that I didn’t care about what pronouns you used to talk about me and that I thought gender was “unclear and illusionary,” I meant it. I’ve taken Intro to Sociology (and other sociology classes) but I still don’t really understand gender, least of all mine.
Writing this was hard, and posting it is scary, so props to Gray for writing the original between selves.
Next time, I will write about the inevitability of death! Yay!
Until then, courage.