Updated: Feb 24
This article contains both my opinion and factual information. I am aware that people's situations are different from mine and this is simply what my journey was like.
Identification in the 21st century has become crucial; when society advances, previously known truths become obsolete. Pronouns are words that help describe or clarify one’s identification. There are multiple different pronouns including she, her, they, them, he, him, and others. To identify using they, them can mean that you are non-binary. Being non-binary doesn’t mean you have to look androgynous–no matter your gender, you can appear to be anything and still be something completely different. The textbook definition of non-binary is “neither one nor the other; somewhere in between.” As mentioned earlier, identification is a wide spectrum; people like to put themselves into a specific group by saying they are “male,” “female,” or “non-binary,” but another just as useful term is ‘gender fluid.’ Just like how the name sounds, gender fluid means “the identification of not having a fixed gender, and instead being somewhere between.” Gender fluid and non-binary are both terms that a person could use to represent themself–they both represent an area of the spectrum that is neither female nor male.
Covid-19 has put everyone in a very stressful position. Not only are people dying disproportionately, but everyone is stuck inside their house with their family. Discovering and exploring your identification or sexuality is very difficult, and when the only people around you are your family, it’s almost like a nightmare. The journey of becoming aware of your identification is one that differs from person to person, especially if you live in a household where that type of identification is ‘something to be ashamed of.’ Of course, being yourself is nothing to ever be ashamed of. If anyone, the people in a household who would ever think of you as less than because of how you identify should be the ones ashamed of themselves. Even if you have an accepting family, to rethink the person you have been for your entire life is scary. One’s identity can be many things, but when you take the time to actually try to identify those things it can become very daunting.
I only began to think about the idea that I might not be a cisgender woman during the pandemic. It was a struggle because I was alone with my family almost 24/7, and these were the people I was trying to hide from while I figured out what I was. I first decided that I was she/they, a mixture of she/her, and they/them. I knew I wasn’t at least fully female but I didn’t know what I was yet. I luckily had my sister who I am very close to–I told her and she was super supportive of my journey. I decided not to tell my family yet because I still felt like it wasn’t quite right. A few months later I was writing a piece for my English class, and we were creating an about the author piece for our final. In this, you could be who you are now, or who you want to be in the future when you would put out a book. I decided to create what I thought was a fictional character; their name was Cody Lea and they were non-binary, they were an archeologist and traveled around the world peeking into all of the Earth’s hidden crevices. Sounds lovely, right? Well as I read over my work before submitting, I came to a realization that no matter what I do, this Cody person sounds amazing–they sound like someone I want to become. What a wonderful realization I had made! And then it dawned on me, all my known truths that society had drilled into me turned my thoughts of happiness into despair. I began to think about what it meant to be non-binary and how I was supposed to act now that I had come to the realization. I immediately told my older sister who then helped me calm down and collect my thoughts. We decided that I wouldn’t tell my parents until I was sure. Then, a week later, I told my parents about my new identification. This was of course a shock to them but they supported me and slowly began to understand what non-binary meant and that I wanted to change my name and pronouns. To this day they still make mistakes, but luckily I have a family who is accepting and is trying to understand my point of view.
I understand that the journey is different for everyone and I am in no way trying to assume others’ hardships. If you are questioning or in the closet currently, take your time and don’t rush it, it’s your gender and no one else’s. Everything on this earth is constantly shifting and changing, therefore you always have the option to change or try out different pronouns. If you’re ever thinking about whether or not you’re something other than cis, go ahead and try using those pronouns for a while. Gender is a spectrum and you may have no idea where you land on that spectrum until you try out some of the other options.