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  • Sarah Giblin

What being nonbinary means to me

I’m by no means an “expert” on being nonbinary, even if such a thing exists (spoiler alert: it doesn’t), but I’m just going to write about my personal experience with being gender nonbinary, and I hope that maybe some part of this can resonate with someone — everyone’s experience is different, and no one person’s experience is universal.

Hello! My name is Sarah, and my pronouns are they/she. So, what does nonbinary mean? According to the Trevor Project’s definition, nonbinary is “a term used to describe people whose gender identity does not fit within the traditional construction of gender as a binary choice between exclusively male or exclusively female.”

It’s also an umbrella term, like “gender-queer,” which many different gender identities can fall under. But if you want to know more about the intricacies of what the term nonbinary means, its 2021 — there are many great resources online that you can find.

I only recently came out to friends and in some spaces online, and despite knowing that my friends are incredibly open-minded and supportive, it was still a daunting experience. In hindsight, knowing that many of my friends also fall under the nonbinary umbrella, I’m not sure what I was so scared about.

But regardless, coming out is a scary experience for most people, and at times the thought of rejection or poor consequences is enough to keep someone in the closet for years. I remember being in middle school and high school and I had asked one of my friends to refer to me with more gender-neutral nicknames, before I even knew what being trans or nonbinary was.

Gender is often an ever-evolving concept and one’s own relationship with gender varies from person to person. For me, when I came out, I told my friends I wanted she/they pronouns, but over the course of a year, I’ve found that I’m starting to prefer they/she (I list the one that I prefer first). I’ve even been introducing myself with “they/them” accidentally recently, but that's something to unpack some other time.

I may someday in the future change my pronouns, and if that's something you’re thinking about too, just know that that is perfectly valid! If you want to try out pronouns to see if they fit, talk to people you trust and just do it! I was assigned female at birth and typically present more femme, and sometimes border on the line of androgynous, but how I dress doesn’t define my gender.

I have days where I wake up in a body that does not feel like my own. There are days where I consider changing my name, because the one I grew up with feels familiar, but some days it feels like the name of someone I used to know.

What being nonbinary means to me is that it just feels right; more so than “she/her '' ever was. More right than just being referred to with feminine terms and nicknames ever did. I still relate to and resonate with the experience of being a woman, as I lived 20 years of my life presenting as such. But I am nonbinary, and that is a part of me.

While my gender is a big part of my identity, it doesn’t singularly define me. It is a part of me in the same way that being a communications major, or loving theatre, or being a cat person is. Those are all parts of me that make up who I am, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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