This year I had a life changing epiphany. I came to the realisation that I am gender fluid.
First, let me explain gender fluidity. Gender fluidity is a non-binary dynamic gender; picture it as a scale of 0 to 100, with man at 0 and woman at 100. Imagine standing at any point along the scale and moving up or down the scale every day; some days you feel like a man, others you feel like a woman, some you feel like both and others none of the above.
My ‘holy crap’ moment was in the last place I imagined it would ever be. In February of this year I was sat on the bus when an old man asked me for directions. He opened with the phrase “excuse me sir”; it wasn’t the first time I had been mistaken for a man but this time, for the first time, it didn’t bother me. This seemingly insignificant event caused me to look at my own gender for the first time.
I began researching gender and decided that how I felt was best reflected by the term gender fluidity. I still associated with being biologically female, and still use female pronouns, however this new term opened up a realm of possibilities and answered a lot of questions.
In hindsight a lot of events from my childhood now made sense, and I realise now that because I lacked any education on gender, my own was repressed. I was taught that gender determined how you are supposed to look and act in public; my mother was insistent that it was socially unacceptable for me to prefer what she perceived as ‘boy things’ over ‘girl things’ without any rational explanation why; what she had to say though made very little difference in how I dressed or acted, and I explored my childhood gender identity in an entirely subconscious way, and without a label.
I went to a private girls’ school, which was an environment dominated by female energy. I was taught the value of being independent and that your integrity is defined by your talent and motivation, not your gender. I learnt the value of being a woman entwined with an intrinsic ability to excel in life and it turned me into the feminist I am today. But having never received a formal education on gender identity the only thing I ever knew was how to be a woman.
When I was 15 I worked out that I am exclusively attracted to women, yet I could never connect to the words ‘lesbian’ or ‘gay’ despite being biologically female. It became obvious when I began understanding my gender that the reason I can’t connect with the term gay is because I don’t feel entirely female. In hindsight a lot of feelings I had as a child now make sense. My fluidity is probably the root of the gender dysphoria I briefly experienced as a child and explains my utter hatred of wearing dresses, although I still insisted that my bedroom walls were a pale shade of purple.
What I understand about myself now is that although I am biologically female and prefer female pronouns, I am gender fluid. I know that most of the time I feel like neither a woman nor a man and sometimes feel like some combination of both. In terms of my gender expression it tends to linger around androgyny; it makes me feel powerful that I can manipulate my output to the world in such a way that a subtle change of body language can control something as seemingly significant as gender.
Coming to terms with my gender was a slow process that involved a huge amount of self-reflection; it has been incredibly confusing and at times very scary. I now understand myself better as a person, and not just my gender, but also my general perspective of the world. I believe that this process of discovering who we are never ends, and it wouldn’t surprise me if in the future I identify as something else, but right now, in this moment I am gender fluid.