I began writing this post many months ago (I didn’t get past the headline) and I still don’t really have a definitive answer about whether I’m really non-binary or whether I’m kidding myself. Hopefully writing this will give me some clarity.
I was chatting to Annie last night and she repeated something she’s told me before: I’m a transwoman but I’m just too scared to admit it.
Looking back at what she said, she was telling me as a friend. She was challenging me to accept something she believes is the truth.
But I’d been on the vino tinto and I responded angrily, telling her to stop pushing me into a little pink box and that I’m absolutely fine identifying as a transfeminine non-binary person – so definitely at the female end of the gender spectrum without going all the way.
Sorry, Annie. Stoptober starts today. I’m feeling like crap, and drinking wine every other night isn’t going to help me. It’s going to make me feel even worse.
Anyway, two years ago, I didn’t even know that terms like “transfeminine” and “non-binary” even existed. Until that point, I’d just felt that I was somewhere in between a crossdresser and a transwoman – I didn’t really need a label for it.
When I discovered that there were thousands of other non-binary people out there, I rejoiced – I wasn’t alone. There were loads more people like me, although most of them assigned female at birth – not male.
So I asked my GP to refer me to the gender service and I waited and I waited and I waited. Then, at my first appointment with a psychologist at Nottingham gender clinic, I was told it would be very unusual to be prescribed HRT in my situation.
Regular readers will know of all the steps I’ve taken since then – everything from coming out to my parents and freezing sperm to changing my name legally and spending far more time en femme.
Annie claims I don’t like my male side, and I just don’t know if I do or not anymore. I always gave the example of liking blokey activities such as football and drinking pints of real ale. But then, come on, it’s 2017 and loads of women do just that.
One of my friends, Charlie, knows more about craft beers than I’ll ever know – and probably more about football, too.
Apart from beer and football, what do I do that would be seen as a traditional male pastime? Well, nothing really. Everything else is pretty unisex, such as cycling, writing and socialising, or more stereotypically femine, such as ballet, slimming and girly retail therapy.
I even had a job interview a few weeks ago (via Skype) and presented en femme. OK, the webcam didn’t work, so the interviewers couldn’t see me, as it turned out, but I did try and, had I got the job, I would have been en femme at work every day.
And thinking about that, Annie’s probably got a point. Why would I want to present as female in an office five days a week if I’m just non-binary? That’s hardly androgynous, is it?
As I’ve written on here many times, all of my clothes (apart from a couple of shirts and jumpers) are women’s, although most of the togs I wear from day to day are androgynous.
Like now, I’m wearing a pair of green women’s trousers and a grey jumper with sparkly stars on. I have knickers and bra underneath and a pair of pop socks. Sexy! ;o)
But I know I could walk to the Co-op round the corner and most people would just assume I’m a regular guy – maybe one who’s a little effeminate.
So what’s stopping me marching round to the supermarket, or down to the pub or to the football ground wearing a blouse, skirt and heels, complete with makeup and wig?
One reason is that I can’t be bothered – it takes a bloody long time to get ready! But the main reason is that I care too much what people think.
When Annie and I were together, I walked around Sheffield and Birmingham with her, to pubs, to the ladies’ loos and to theatres. I spent our entire Santorini holiday en femme – even on the flights there and back. I even proposed to her en femme.
I don’t recall getting any funny looks in the cities – and there were only a few in Santorini. But I think it’s different being out and about in a big city or on holiday in the sunshine, where everybody’s out to enjoy themselves and doesn’t really care about how I look.
It’s a different kettle of fish going out en femme closer to home. I did it once, when Annie and I first became friends. She took me to a busy restaurant, and it was a perfect night – no funny looks, no nudges.
But I’ve not been out en femme in my home town since then. Yes, I wear women’s clothes every day – but they’re androgynous.
And the reason for that – and Annie’s absolutely right – is that I’m scared. I’m scared that people will stare at me, shout abuse at me, maybe even beat me up for being trans.
I’ve lived in a little town for the best part of 20 years and I know hundreds of people here. Some wouldn’t care less that I’m trans, some would embrace it and some would think the whole concept hilarious.
In an ideal world, yes, I admit, I would be walking down the high street in far more feminine clothes than those I usually wear. I’d be openly en femme – and nobody would care or judge me.
But it’s not an ideal world, and that’s why I’ve been taking baby steps all this time – one step at a time – before starting HRT.
I want to start HRT so, so badly. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s the right thing to do. I know I’d regret it, sitting there as an old man in a rocking chair, if I’d not been brave and done it.
But I’m still scared about it. Absolutely terrified. I know it’s the right thing to do – but I keep asking myself: What if something goes wrong? What if I change my mind? What if I get DVT again? What if people think I’m a big freak?
The main fear is what people will think of me. I know it’s easy to say “Who cares what people think? Fuck ’em!” but I’m quite a sensitive person, and I take things to heart too easily.
I still don’t know whether or not I’m kidding myself with the “non-binary” label. I guess time will tell. And just not knowing one’s gender is pretty bloody scary, too. I was brought up male, I’ve considered myself non-binary for the past two years and now I’m asking myself if I’m a transwoman. Let’s get the full set of genders!
I guess one way to find out would be to talk to friends who care about me and love me, and believe I am a transwoman. Instead of hitting the roof and getting mardy, I need to ask them why they think that.
And, if I eventually come to agree, then I will need those same friends – more than ever – to help me come out in this silly little town. Even if it’s just to hold my hand while I take a stroll through the high street en femme for the first time.
I know I’ve had a tough time of late, but pushing away my best friend and lashing out at her is not the answer and, for that, I’m very sorry.