Picture from ThinkGeek.com.
Okay, this is actually about a shirt. But it's not really about a shirt. It was intended to be that way, and it started that way, but then I realized it was about something else, and I decided that confusing sentences would be a perfect tool with which to illustrate this point.
Let's start over.
Since moving to Washington, I've done a lot of stereotypical thinking about who I am and who I've been and how much I hated living in the South. On that latter part, I'd like to digress just a bit and say that growing up to realize you're biromantic demisexual is not an easy thing to do in the South. And also that I'm not going to drag out details about that. It feels really self-explanatory to me, but I realize that not everyone is going to understand or interpret it the same way I do. And that's fine. It was a hard experience for me and that's just how it was for me; I can't speak to anyone else's personal journey.
You've probably cottoned on by now that this is going to be some kind of coming out story. But if I've already revealed my sexuality, what else do I have to come out with? Well, turns out to be my gender.
What I mean to say is: I'm genderqueer!
Thinking back, I was never fully comfortable with femininity. I've never liked makeup; I've never liked doing my hair; I've never liked my body. My fashion sense mostly amounts to men's T-shirts and jeans, because most women's clothing looks amazing on a screen but makes me ridiculously uncomfortable if I'm the one wearing it. As a child, I got into Pokemon and Zelda at a young age, which was not a great way to make female friends back in those days. One day at daycare, an employee made me stay away from all the boys and only play with girls for the day. I don't recall that day being a particularly cheerful one.
But it never really occurred to me that this was anything other than your standard chronic self-loathing, and part of the reason for that is because in all the time I lived in Arkansas, I never heard anyone speak a single word about the gender spectrum. Not once. I never heard "genderqueer" or "gender non-binary" or "demigirl" or anything like that. I had a vague awareness that those were all things that existed, but I knew nothing about any of them beyond that. I started researching shortly before my move, when I started growing a bit curious about it, and when I started realizing that some of the stuff I was reading fit me perfectly.
Back when I first realized I was bisexual, and then when I later realized I was actually biromantic demisexual, I was initially confused, but very quickly I realized that it was true. It just fit. I could tell. And it was the same thing when thinking of being genderqueer. It just was. No guilt, no shame, no big deal.
Well...okay, fine. A little guilt, but not for the reason you think. Mostly, for the latter half of that word, and how I feel like I might not be queer enough. Because practically, I still present as female and I still prefer female pronouns and I still look like a girl, if an unattractive one who mostly wears men's T-shirts and jeans because they're comfortable as hell. (But I've recently taken to wearing skirts when I feel comfortable with it, because there are some really cute skirts out there.) Because I'm still comfortable being called a girl. It's a bit complicated, but the simplest way I can explain it is: I am okay with being called a girl, but not with being called a woman. It sounds weird writing that, but it also makes sense to me. I hope it makes sense to you too. (Because I can't think of any other way to describe it, because words are hard.) Because I hate myself for a lot of reasons, but being genderqueer is not one of them. I guess I worry that it hasn't affected me negatively enough? I feel like that sounds bad and makes no sense. What I mean is, I know personally that prejudice exists, and I know that this is not something that is easy to deal with. And I'm sad because I don't want people to get hurt, and sometimes I still feel like I deserve to be hurt. (Though I'm working on it.)
So am I queer enough? I don't know. I just am what I am. I don't always like much of what's here, but it's what I have.
What I also have is a shirt. The shirt pictured up top. I got it at the mall because I happened to see it and I realized that after years of hiding bi and hiding demi and generally just hiding, I wanted to open up one tiny little window and let the light in. And you know what? I've gotten more compliments on this shirt than I have on any other shirt I've ever owned. Maybe I just live in a wonderful area, or maybe it's a sign, or maybe it's random happenstance. But it's pretty cool to me.
See how I started with shirt, ended with shirt, and the middle was a giant ramble? Yeah, that's kind of my thing now.