Previously on Mil Lit Flakes, Mil covered the reasons they no longer identify with the label ‘genderfluid’ and left everyone on a deliberate cliffhanger of what they do identify with instead.
The first way I found my answer was by thinking through the gender options I know and reading posts by people identifying as some labels I was questioning, and then rejecting the lot of them.
I’m definitely not male or female. Both those boxes are going straight out. Androgynous went out the window with them as being some combination is equally bleck.
Agender was the next one I brought up on the chopping board. I let it sit there a bit while I poked it with the defenestration stick. This time there wasn’t anything wrong enough to give it the instant toss but neither was there anything right. Agender’s fine and dandy, and kind of my attitude half the time that I want to be without gender, but I’m not; I’m definitely a something. Out that goes then too!
Next I plonked neutrois down and let it sit a few days. It was a new beast I needed to give some time to learn about, mainly thanks to Neutrois Nonsense and their article defining how they experience it. What I understand as neutrois is a third, neutral gender alongside male and female, a neutral equal. Since I use gender-neutral pronouns, feel pretty neutral on the idea of gender and try to present in a neutral way, it seemed fitting.
Yet… it was a oval block for a circular hole; close but it’s only going to go through with some discomfort and serious lube.
It was reading another article on Neutrois Nonsense, about their relationship with testosterone and the reasons they want to take it, that finally gave me my ‘A-ha!’
Reading that article made me realise what I’m not: I am also someone who wants to be perceived ambiguously gender-wise if possible, but ultimately if I had to make a choice between just male and female I’m not ‘unambiguously and distinctly repelled by one side’ as they are. I realised that, although I’m definitely not female, I don’t inherently hate being perceived as female.
What I hate is the social expectations that come with being perceived as female.
Looking at all the gender boxes I’d thrown out of the metaphorical window, it all came rushing to me in that moment:
The reason neutrois, agender and such didn’t feel right is because they’re still gender boxes. I’d still feel constrained in them, just as constrained as if I was in the male or female boxes, only now to only act in a ‘neutral’ way, whatever that means.
Being constrained to act only in one way, the ‘correct’ way for a gender is what I hate. I hate it equally about every single possible gender in existence.
I want to be me, not a gender.
Maybe that comes from being autistic, from being so freakin’ sick of gender rules and roles I can never make any sense of with the funky wiring of my brain.
Growing up, I hated having to pick a side gender-wise when it came to segregated options because I hated what I lost out on. I wanted all options to be open to me regardless of gender.
Maybe that’s what fuelled being genderfluid for a time; I wanted freedom to act how I wanted and some days that was in masculine ways, some days agender ones and so on. Being genderfluid allowed me to feel justified in the way I wanted to act.
But I don’t want a gender that’s a justification – I want my gender.
When I think about what I want to be, what I’d have to change to get rid of my intermittent gender dysphoria, it’s not physical things like the shape of my face or whether I have breasts or not: it’s personality mainly.
I think my gender’s all tied up in my other identity problems, all of which boil down to wanting to be an authentic me finally. And there’s no single gender that lets me be me because they all come as a box, with limits and rules. Part of the personality I want to be is a rulebreaker.
But I still need a label. I’d like not to have one but I need one for the times people ask. Putting down ‘None’ or ‘Genderless’ on a gender write-in box would both feel really wrong because it’s not that I’m without one. The thing that would feel most right is ‘N/A’ but that doesn’t work as an adjective – Compare “I’m agender” with “I’m N/A.”
What brought me to a label I can feel comfortable with are crushes.
I’ve never needed to question my romantic/sexual orientation in the same way as my gender. As soon as I heard the definition for ‘demisexual’ I got that instant, life-long ping. (An article on it is on the to-do pile, somewhere among the four dozen…) The short definition is experiencing sexual attraction only after forming an emotional connection to someone. And that little bit ‘emotional connection’ is luckily what helped me figure myself out.
I sort of have types. They’re based on personalities though, not physical appearances. I’ve always had them, roughly, although they’ve also expanded over the years as I’ve matured and come to understand and appreciate more types of people.
I’m capable of falling for people of any gender or sex. But everyone I do fall for comes under three types: Men who aren’t trapped by masculinity, women who totally own being women and anyone non-binary. And very important note: I’m describing personalities here, not physical appearances.
Explaining what kind of men that means is difficult. The thing is that it encompasses a very broad range all unified by one hard to define thing. My best shot at that ‘thing’ is that they’d be the same regardless of what gender they were; being male isn’t important to them. The only important thing is being themselves. If you tried to taunt this kind of guy for being a sissy he’d just laugh it off and laugh at any guy who cared more about being masculine than being a good, happy person.
Women are a bit easier, and kind of the total opposite. I love women who embrace being female so they can break everything that means – Badass lone wolves, follow-their-own-style trendsetters or mischievous tomboys. Anything so long as it’s two fingers up at what society thinks someone female should be.
And then literally anyone non-binary. Hopefully by now it’s clear the one unifying thread for all genders is people that don’t conform to society’s gender expectations and norms so I don’t have to explain this one – I’ve sadly not encountered as many non-binary people and characters for this one anyone to have an example picture set.
I fall for these people because I develop an emotional connection to them; I develop an emotional connection to them because I know on some deeper level they’re like me, because of that breaking gender expectations in one way or another.
I need a label that encompasses THAT, hating gender expectations and boxes. As I’m going to explain in an additional part 3, I think the reason I’m slightly more comfortable with the female side if I’m absolutely forced to pick one is because the female side has stronger rules and expectations to break, and oh boy do I like breaking!
I like being everything I’m not allowed to be. I like being free and not what society expects.
I like the nice broad label ‘genderqueer’.
I queer gender. I don’t perform it in the normal way. And I’m really damn proud of it.
It’s normally an umbrella term, but I think that’s why it feels best. It’s more freeing than any more specific term. It’s still a term, when I’d prefer to have none, but it’s the broadest and therefore most comfortable of any I could pick.
But what does this new label mean for my life?