How did you grow up with your gender or lack of gender?
Unfortunately I didn’t learn about the complexity of gender identities until I was 25. When I was 23 I had to attend a diversity training for a job and the speaker touched upon the different genders and I remember being very, very confused, but unable to exactly pinpoint what I was confused about. It wasn’t until I started talking to other non-binary individuals that it finally dawned on me, “Wait a minute, you feel like your gender?”
Once I realized that I didn’t “just know” what my gender was I began to investigate what that meant for my gender identity. Before I thought gender was just an advertiser’s gimmick based on what parts you were born with and what gender roles you’d be expected to engage in when you grew up. Girl’s played with dolls because they were expected to raise kids and boys played with trucks because trucks were cool, I guess. It didn’t matter because all the kids would say that they only played with their demographic specific toys but I knew they secretly played with both because, come on, toys are toys and trucks were cool. I didn’t play with either actually. Once I discovered books I had absolutely little interest in anything else.
Once I realized that gender wasn’t a marketing tactic and an actual inherent part of the identity I confirmed what I had known all along. I wasn’t a boy or a girl. Some of my earliest memories are from the 1st grade. When another first grader asked me what my favorite color was I didn’t want to say “blue” because that’s the boys’ color and I didn’t want to say “pink” because that was too girly so I mixed the two together like the little genius that I was and picked “purple”. (my favorite color is actually blue, but I pretty much love all the cool colors on the color-wheel)
I didn’t like playing with boys or girls. Boys were too competitive and unless you could fight your way to the top of the pecking order it wasn’t worth the fuss. Girls always had one lead bitch telling everybody what to do and I wasn’t about that life. So, I played by myself. I must have looked pitiful because one of the teachers would always talk to me. So instead of engaging with kids my own age I began conversing with adults early on and this made me more mature than my classmates which in turn only served to alienate me more. In simple words, I would say that growing up without a gender made me grow up quickly and solitary.
But the teacher who would take the time to talk to me also lived right down the street so when I moved away next year they gave me the best company of all, a book.