I was born into a female body. I have always liked the way it looked. I am a sister and a daughter. I am the granddaughter of many, many women before me.
I grew up climbing trees in Asia, and collecting insects and frogs. I had animals not dolls, dungarees not dresses. Most of my friends were boys. They were much more interesting. Girls always seemed to be plotting something, leering at me sideways, whispering, laughing at an inside joke. They seemed to move in packs. I stayed away.
They made fun of me at school for not shaving my legs (and many, many other things). I wanted to die. It was the start of a lifetime of mental distress, feeling like I couldn’t possibly be human. A bizarre creature.
I grew older, and discovered the power that this female body had. It made men do crazy stuff. It got me things I thought I wanted: empty people, and objects, to try and fill my void. I worked as a table dancer in my 20s but I felt repulsed by the female-ness of the dressing room, where they talked naked about periods and babies. I couldn’t wait to get back home and into my jeans.
I knew I didn’t belong with ‘the girls’, but I never felt drawn to be a man. They have always been much more relatable to me, but I’ve never felt like one of them. They were as different as another species.
If I had ever thought I might not actually be female, I must have brushed it aside. After all, what else was there? (This was before the Internet had made its way into every home.)
Androgyny was never for me either. I love my long hair, lipstick, mascara. I like to greet the world as a woman. But I am no femme. I only wear dresses with big boots. No heels, no long nails. Nothing to make me totter, flap, or flutter. I prefer T-shirts and jeans, urban sportswear. But always a woman, even at a quick glance, never a boy. So that made things even more complicated.
The absence of disgust with my own body, and the lack of need to change it or be male, was the life-long red herring that kept me apart from my true gender, or lack of it, for 37 years. That, and my ignorance, I suppose.
It was the veil that meant that I didn’t notice the things my subconscious had known all this time. I didn’t know that all these aspects, of how you feel or want to look, or express yourself, could all be working in combination, set at different levels, like sliders on a musical mixing desk.
I had known gender was more complex than a simple binary, but I had no idea how diverse the spectrum of non-binary was. Now I love and embrace its complexity, which in itself is a true reflection of me.
I feel whole at last. Last year my subconscious finally swum up to meet me, and asked where I’d been hiding all this time.