Updated: Aug 11, 2022
[***EDIT- Since the original publication of this post, I have grown uncomfortable with she/her pronouns and don't wish to use them.***]
What is gender? What is my gender? How does it differ from my sexuality? Why does it matter? Why do any of these things matter?
I don’t have answers, but I have learned a few things recently.
No one seems to agree on what gender really is. I am hardly qualified to wade into the fray, and I am frankly more confused about the possible social and biological interplay of the concept than I was before I started a personal deep dive. What I know is this. It is unavoidable. Human. A fundamental part of how we relate to ourselves, and each other. It is revelatory.
Sometimes there is power in the quiet, gradual knowing. This one has occurred in the background, brought into focus by aspects of my relational and intimate existence, and my distance from the prohibitive contexts of my past.
In a universe where there are more than two options, where I don’t have to be one or the other, I don’t drift to one side or the other by default.
I am somewhere else. Someone else.
I am not a man, or a woman.
It’s a relief to speak into thought and existence, gradually, first in private and now very much in public, the unadulterated nature of my conception and expression of myself.
To just be.
It is a privilege to live as myself, openly. One that many people don’t get to experience. The pain we cause each other to avoid discomfort is tragic and pointless.
So I continue to share these very personal and vulnerable thoughts out loud, in the hope that they can help one person know they are not alone, or help someone come to the realization that their repression, however unintentional, is causing grievous injury to someone else.
It took me until my 30s to really start to figure it out; I try not to think about the specific nature of the abuse that kept some of these truths from me in childhood and beyond. I remind myself that it was protective. That I had to survive. That the brain is operating on so many levels that we aren’t aware of and can’t even conceive of.
I am bursting with excitement and pride these days, but I am also scared. The world is not a nice place for earnest hearts and weirdos.
Let me re-introduce myself, then. My name is Andrea. I am a weirdo with a big, earnest heart. If you are so inclined, I would love it if you would call me Andi. (My family of origin used to call me this when I was a kid, and it feels right to reclaim it).
I identify as a non-binary lesbian.
If you’re using pronouns to refer to me, I prefer they/them pronouns, but I am also comfortable with she/her pronouns.
I don’t take the freedom to say this for granted. Not for a second.