By Sarah Chasin, NFTY Northwest
The first time I realized that my gender identity didn’t fit into the binary scale that society has given us, I was scared to death. I had never met anyone who felt the way I did, and at one point I didn’t even believe that my feelings were real. When I spoke about it to my friends, they were accepting, but no one knew how to help me figure out exactly what was happening. I started to write songs, poems, and make art to help me define myself and express the feelings that no one else understood. I also used the internet. I searched far and wide for terms and definitions that fit me exactly, but I didn’t find a single one that I liked. At first, I came across the term ‘agender’. I read the definition and thought ‘well, this is definitely how I feel, so I guess this is how I identify’, and I went with it. I did that more times than anyone can count: Every time I was finding new words that I felt like I connected to.
After using so many terms and so many different pronouns, I found myself at a dead end, where there were so many labels that fit me in different ways, that I had no idea which one to pick and which one fit the best. Then one day, I met a person who didn’t associate themselves with anything in particular. They had a conversation with me about what it was like to just be human, and just be yourself. After that conversation, I stopped looking for descriptions. I did this for about a year. I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with my current labels, but I didn’t do anything to change it, either. Instead, I tried to develop myself as a person, whether I had a gender or not. After a long time, I finally started to feel comfortable with the version of myself with no labels. I definitely didn’t want to keep living that way, but I was finally able to spend time alone without trying to fix myself.
What I found over the course of those 2-3 years was that once you become comfortable with your own body and your own thoughts, your identity reveals itself. I now identify as a genderfluid person, using the pronouns they/them. I really couldn’t tell you how I came to that conclusion, other than learning how to accept myself.
I still have work to do though. I intend to keep learning about myself through any medium I can, giving myself the opportunity to develop and change as I go. I might not identify myself as genderfluid next year, and I may use completely different pronouns when I turn 20. The thing I like to remember is that there is no end point in terms of your body and yourself. The human brain is an endless bowl of information and experiences that change by the second. Your likes and dislikes will be fluid as well as the way you think. Actively learning about the ways my body can change and the different ways I can think has helped me appreciate the individual that I have become, and the individual that I might be in 10 years.