The day we’re born, a stranger assigns us a sex based on our biology and the physical parts we’re born with. As we age, we are told repeatedly that we must follow the scripts that society has written for us based on that assignment. Some feel comfortable with their assignment;
But not everyone feels the same.
If you experience the realization that your gender does not “match” your pre-determined label it can feel both identity affirming AND scary. Taking the first step towards acknowledging this disconnect feels incredible, but the journey after that is often very overwhelming. An individual discovering their gender identity – or perhaps realizing that they don’t connect with one at all – involves a great deal of emotional, mental, and physical turmoil. The internal dissonance is a lot for anyone to reconcile.
If you’re feeling this way, it’s important to realize two things.
1) Your feelings are 100% valid.
Whether you’re feeling excited, relieved, panicked, or even terrified; those feelings are totally valid. Try not to judge yourself for how you feel. Allow those emotions to exist and take up space.
2) You are not alone
There are thousands of people that question their gender assignment. Whether your community immediately accepts your identity or not, there is nothing wrong with you. Many people have felt the same emotions, good and bad, that you’re feeling now. Please know that you are supported, no matter what others may try to make you believe.
The belief that there are only two genders is quickly being (thankfully) broadened by society at large. The recognition of gender fluidity and non-binary genders have become much more commonplace. The Trevor Project for example does a great job of expressing this in their “Coming Out” Handbook. They write:
“Gender Identity describes our internal understanding and experience of our own gender. Each person’s experience with their gender identity is unique and personal. Some people believe that there are only two gender identities possible: boy or girl. But, in fact, thousands and thousands of people experience their gender outside of this binary… Think of how many different ways there are to be a boy or a girl; there are millions of different ways to be non-binary too.”
(Source: The Trevor Project Coming Out Handbook)
While gender identity describes how we feel internally, gender expression describes how we choose to present ourselves externally. Societal norms tell us that males and females should dress, look, and behave a certain way; but the reality is that many of us don’t live our lives like this. Everyone, even cisgender individuals, vary widely in how they choose to present themselves. Gender expression sometimes correlates to gender identity, but it doesn’t have to.
The way you choose to express yourself is entirely up to you.
However, when someone isn’t allowed to express or represent their outer appearance according to their identity, it can exacerbate personal conflict within. This can further result in depression and a lack of confidence. Not being genuine to yourself feels impossible to come to terms with. It does lead many to pursue gender reassignment/confirmation surgery and/or hormone therapy.
Fortunately, there are resources and organizations that are here to help. A couple of our favorites are:
The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The Trevor Project offers a suite of 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifeline, TrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace. Trevor also operates an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, an advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and a research team to discover the most effective means to help young LGBTQ people in crisis and end suicide.
Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery
Whether you’re considering transition or simply looking for general care, Mount Sinai provides transgender or non-binary patients with a comprehensive experience. They employ a medical team that cares deeply for and has expertise working with the transgender and non-binary communities. The facility offers services such as gender-affirming surgeries and hormone therapy. Working with doctors that recognize and support your transition can make all the difference when it comes to your comfort and confidence.
Callen-Lorde is an organization that promotes health and wellness for many communities, but they pride themselves especially on the work they’ve done surrounding transgender issues. Because many of their patience have faced discrimination and fear, creating a safe space is their priority. You can also expect a full spectrum of healthcare, including hormone therapy and harm reduction counseling.
No matter where you are in your journey, ENBY sincerely hopes you feel loved, supported, and safe to be and express who you are.
If you’re interested in knowing more about ENBY and how we support the non-binary community, you can check out our Impact page here: https://weenby-nyc.myshopify.com/pages/impactg/