There have been an enormous number of changes in my life over the past 3 months. I haven’t been blogging as much, but I hope to create some new posts about those changes soon.
I’ve been reflecting a great deal recently on how much society wants to squish people into binary boxes and categories. Either/or. Society doesn’t promote the shades of grey, the spectrum, the people living at the intersections of multiple gradient scales and who do not fix neatly into categories.
It’s quite difficult at times, being a person who doesn’t identify with many binary categories. I sometimes feel invisible, different, crazy, or like my identities are not real or valid. In some situations, I don’t even feel safe or comfortable challenging the binary norms which are coercively placed on me.
In terms of sexual orientation, I’m non-binary. I identify as queer, which means I’m not exclusively heterosexual or gay. I’m open to relationships and dating with people of any gender. I don’t fit neatly into a box.
In terms of gender identity, I’m non-binary. I identify as genderqueer, which means I do not feel exclusively like a man or woman, but something else. A different place on a spectrum, and outside the realm of female or male
In terms of sexuality, I’m non-binary. I identify as demisexual, which means I’m on the asexual spectrum. Not entirely interested in sex, but not completely disinterested in it either.
In terms of my health/disability status, I’m non-binary. I identify as having both physical and mental health disabilities. But I don’t “look sick” and I am extremely “high functioning” despite the level of symptoms I experience daily. I’m able to work, but I don’t always have the energy to do all the things. Some days I feel pretty good and others I feel barely functional.
The reality is, I think a huge number of people identify as non-binary in some ways. Maybe you haven’t explicitly thought of it this way, but very few people exist solely in all the normative, expected boxes and categories. No person has just one single identity. Life happens at the intersections of our identities.
I’ve experienced some level of not being believed or validated for my identities. I’ve felt not queer enough to fit in with gay people, but not straight enough to exist comfortable in heteronormative spaces. I feel too feminine to be non-binary. I feel like I’m “lazy” if my symptoms cause me to struggle on a given day. I feel like I SHOULD be something very specific and it’s definitely not what I am.
The worst part of it is how I don’t consistently believe and validate myself. Internalized oppression is something I struggle with constantly. I tell myself that I’m not “queer enough” or that I don’t “look non-binary enough.” I tell myself that I’m not functioning well enough to be normal, but I’m way too “able” to identify as disabled. I put myself down. I tell myself I don’t belong. I tell myself that folks won’t believe me. I tell myself that one day I’ll be found out, and that others think I’m a fake or a fraud, or lying to get attention or to gain an advantage.
Internalized oppression leads me to gaslight myself. Internalized oppression means I don’t often accept myself. Some of the worst pressures to fix into the neat clean boxes of normal society comes from my own internal critic!
I don’t believe in binary systems. I don’t believe the messages of ableism, homophobia, transphobia and patriarchy. On one level I don’t believe them or believe in them, and yet I put so much pressure on myself to “pass” as “normal” when I don’t even know what normal means.
I don’t actually want to be normal. I want to be myself. I want to be accepted as the person I am. On one hand, I love the fact that I’m diverse and have experiences that can exist on a rainbow spectrum, rather than in black and white boxes. But at the same time, I feel pressure to confirm, to choose, to fit in, to pick sides.
I’m not going to fit neatly into boxes. It’s not possible. I would have to deny so many aspects of myself that I wouldn’t be me. I would have to compromise my own deeply held truths, just to be fully seen by society as valid. I reject that option.
Instead, I’m creating communities and groups of friends who do accept me as I am. People who do see me as valid, just the way I am. People who aren’t trying to place me into categories that don’t fit, like uncomfortable outgrown clothing.
The spectrum is beautiful. I like to think this is part of the symbolism behind the rainbow pride flag. We are all part of a spectrum, like the light spectrum which creates a beautiful rainbow. Without each individual colour, the spectrum would be incomplete and neither the bright light or the rainbow would exist. Spectrums are all around us and within us.
Embrace the non-binary. Embrace the intersections. They are beautiful and valid.