I’m an ‘enby’: One of 225,000 nonbinary people in the UK
Since when did having a vagina mean I have to have long hair
I’ve been kicked out of club toilets, spat at in the street, made to feel humiliated in front of total strangers – all because I don’t fit into the obvious boxes of the stereotypical woman or man. Is my androgyny really that much of a big deal?
My name is Saffy, I’m twenty-one years old and I’m currently slogging through my final year of Media with English Lit. I’m the Marginalised Genders Officer at NUSU. Oh yeah, and I’m a pansexual nonbinary person who uses they/their pronouns.
In a big, queer nutshell pansexual means that I’m attracted to all genders. So, I fancy people that identify as a man, a woman, nonbinary, genderfluid, genderqueer, agender etc.
Nonbinary, for me, is not only an expression of how I feel in my own identity, but it’s a political statement rejecting the societal assumption that you can only be a woman or a man. Nonbinary is kind of an umbrella term – it basically means that your gender is one that lies outside of male and female.
It’s a rejection of the widely accepted belief that women = femininity + vaginas and men = masculinity + penises. Sex and gender, despite being depicted as mutually exclusive in societal and traditional belief, are separate entities. Your ‘sex’ is your biology, in other words, your genitalia. Your gender is more complicated – it’s how you feel in yourself, in your mind and your conscious thoughts. The two don’t have to be linked at all, why should they be?
I was born assigned female at birth: basically the midwife saw my vagina and thought “this tiny little naïve baby is going to love Mac lipstick and halter tops.” This is stereotypical socialising at its best.
I’m sorry, but I don’t remember my vagina containing instructions on how long my hair should be. Unfortunately, those with vaginas are instantly put into the box of feminine expression. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way saying that those who are enby have to be androgynous and masculine presenting – that’s just me. But we shouldn’t be born into an attitude and have to stick to it.
I was born alongside my twin sister, Jasmine, and we couldn’t be more different. Our mum raised us to be decent people with the freedom to choose what we wanted to wear. I am so grateful for that, because I know a lot of people whose families are radically traditional and wouldn’t even entertain the thought of ‘deviant’ sexuality and gender.
As soon as I was old enough to decide, mum let me choose my own clothes and I became what is commonly known as a tomboy. I got my hair cut short at the age of 16 and never looked back. My sister on the other hand is feminine. I kind of love how different we are.
I am androgynous, meaning I have bits of masculine and feminine identity at different times. I don’t wear dresses anymore, and I wear boxer shorts and bind my chest (which basically means I wear a vest made of constrictive material that makes it look like I have a flat chest). But, I also like wearing outfits that show off my butt and I occasionally wear makeup. Sue me.
This year, in my role as NUSU’s Marginalised Genders Officer I want to really bring the gender binary into question. I’m not saying we should replace all gendered pronouns with they/their and dress in gender neutral clothing. I’m saying people need to unlearn the rigid binary and open their mind to more than woman and man.
I’ll be running a campaign in January called ‘Beyond the Binary’ to do just that. There’ll be a live music event, talks held by notable speakers, and zine making workshops. All to try and get people to question how they see gender now.
It shouldn’t matter how I dress/act/look to other people, but it does. In fact, people care so much about it they would approach people like me in the street and tell me I’d be prettier with longer hair, or if I wore a little make-up. I don’t want to sound like I’m full of myself, but people seem to like me the way I am – the ladies, the men, the enbys (nonbinary people). Plus, why should I have to dress to be attractive to others? I spent most of my teen years trying to be something I wasn’t due to fear of being different.
You can call us Tumblr scum, Social Justice Warriors, Special Snowflakes, make our identity into a meme to be cringed at and humiliated. But at the end of the day, there are over 225,000 people that feel this way in the United Kingdom. This is how we really feel, and every time you ask ignorant questions like:
- What have you got in your pants?
- This is all just for attention, right?
- Are you a gay boy or an ugly girl?
It just invalidates who we really feel we are.
I’m whoever the fuck I want to be, it doesn’t make any difference to you, so what’s the issue?