by Joel Armstrong (they/them)
Haydn Nixon (he/him)
Disclaimer: I want to identify the privilege I have in the way that I dress, as opposed to a lot of other non-binary people that I know. My fashion choices may be slightly alternative at times, but are still mostly palatable for someone who’s assigned sex at birth is male. This is an internal dilemma that I am facing.
Although I’ve identified as non-binary for the past year or so, it wasn’t until recently that I started solely using they/ them pronouns. I originally started off safe, with a cute little he/they moment. That slowly developed into they/ he, before fully progressing into they/them.
However, I often look at those around me who are also non-binary, and feel a sense of envy and guilt. They just look so much more… non-binary than I do. It usually comes down to what I’m wearing. Other enby people pull off clothing that never fits perfectly – either raided from the kids section, or jeans held up a belt, with hems that scrape the floor. They’re wearing hats, scarfs and woollen mittens on the hottest of January days. They have haircuts straight out of Scott Pilgrim and boots that would probably be suitable to wear on the moon – they just look more genderqueer than I do. I dress like Drew Phillips in a Nana or Paradise Kiss world. That’s not to say Drew dresses badly – it’s just… different.
I need to be identified as the ‘other’, so that when I’m getting served at a cafe, the barista has to think twice before referring to me as ‘him’ or ‘them’.
I feel like I should completely change the way I dress, so that people take me seriously enough to identify as enby. It feels like I haven’t done enough to deserve people actually referring to me by my correct pronouns. But then again, which people? Who am I specifically trying to cater my gender identity to? For queer people who I’m friendly with – especially those who are also non-binary or under the general trans umbrella, they don’t care that I dress like a recently divorced dad on his way to a Foo Fighters concert with his best buddy Todd.
I still remember the first time someone referred to me as ‘they’ – it was subtle, but felt like chowing down on a chip butty after a long day at the pools as a kid. It was perfect.
Living in a cis-normative world, where ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ are highly pushed onto the two primary sexes, I feel like I need to rebel against these ideologies. I need to be identified as the ‘other’, so that when I’m getting served at a cafe, the barista has to think twice before referring to me as ‘him’ or ‘them’. But realistically, gender doesn’t just boil down to what you wear – it’s an internal feeling. Sure, fashion can change how you want to be perceived by the world, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all of gender. Gender is a lot more intricate, beautiful and deep. I still remember the first time someone referred to me as ‘they’ – it was subtle, but felt like chowing down on a chip butty after a long day at the pools as a kid. It was perfect.
An idea I need to reinforce to myself is that I can just be. The thing I originally loved about coming out as gay, was that the expectations seemed to disappear. It became more socially acceptable to listen to whatever music I wanted to, explore fashion a little bit more, get piercings, and just truly be myself. Coming out as non-binary is no different – I shouldn’t feel compelled to dress a certain way. But if I do want to be a bit more adventurous (I would look sexy as fuck in a dress), I can do that too.
At the end of the day, do what your heart desires. I, like a lot of people, am tired of trying to cram into a box as a triangle, circle or hexagon. Be the shape, person and gender you want to be.