How Reclaiming My Femininity Made Me Feel Powerful
Maria Elena
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Ultimate Feline: Mister or Miss Calico

“I don’t judge people by their sexual orientation or the color of their skin, so I find it really hard to identify someone by saying that they’re a gay person or a black person or a Jewish person” Diana Ross

Pop culture always spotlights social issues, bringing them in front of the average person sitting at home. Newcomer entertainer Amandla Stenberg gained public attention for being recognized as a non-binary person in media publications. The use of the word “their” has so much meaning in the 21st century. At this moment in time, commentary on the subject of gender might seem like a fashion statement for this generation. But non-conformity is not a fad. The latest haircut can be a trend that will come and go. Trends have their place in history. Everyone remembers time stamps from certain periods in their lives. But gender and genderlessness is more than a moment in time; it is an entire existence.

Non-binary is the newest term to identity those who choose not to be identified. Assumptions at first sight are not entirely wrong. Only about 5 percent of Calico cats can be assumed to be considered male. Why? Sciences says that the distinct pattern of their furry coats are due to the dominate X chromosomes. Human parents can determine the sex of their baby from blood tests after weeks 7 of a pregnancy. The present of the ‘Y’ chromosome is accepted as a valid indicator of what is male. When babies are born, a doctor will assign the sex based on physiological and biology. But how you, I or someone else identify is based on our own inference, which includes the topic of gender.

The subject of gender has opened a Pandora’s box of sorts. Not many people including those who are nonbinary, know how to address the neverending questions surrounding this topic. This may not be an indication of anything negative for either party. The advancement of society should be expect to have some growing pains and lots of misunderstandings along the way.

And it is frustrating to be misunderstood. This is true, whether you are struggling to find the right words to say or understand why no one comprehends the words you speak. There is nothing like feeling confused and having the world around you not understanding you. It is true that at some point, finding yourself is chaotic. Some people from all walks of life get lost in the chaos. Healthy ways to cope with the madness is by asking for help. This is a part of the experience of growing up for most people. It doesn’t happen overnight that we come full circle with who we are inside.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the idea of gender norms as the following in their glossary:

Refers to beliefs about women and men, boys and girls that are passed from generation to generation through the process of socialization. They change over time and differ in different cultures and populations. Gender norms lead to inequality if they reinforce: a) mistreatment of one group or sex over the other; b) differences in power and opportunities. The dynamics between the use of gender norms and social expectations has produced pressures for individuals to remain enclosed to accommodate others. Cis-women unfortunately have held the cross for the forced use of gender norms. WHO cites these pressures leading to mental disorders which often lead to unhealthy habits to cope. The necessity of psychiatric help with drugs and alcohol abuse is now recognized, too.

Mind-numbing depression from isolation is sometimes beyond the walls of social obstacles. Life experiences sometimes led the way into an addiction. With drug and alcohol abuse, life only gets crazier. And reaching out for help with drugs and alcohol abuse is not easy. Many members of the non-conformity community are suffering inside, in silence, and they turn to alcohol or drugs to help them cope. It’s a natural response when it seems like no on understands you. A common psychiatric diagnosis that affect non conformers is depression and/or anxiety. And members that need help with drugs and alcohol abuse are still a major concern as well within the LGBTQAI community.

The psychological side effects of living life as nonbinary is one that influenced by the push back from society, including those close circles. Social commentary suggests that forms of dysphoria are a part of being non-binary. There are few categories within the spectrum of dysmorphic disorders. For example, muscle dsymorphia, “This false illusion of lacking muscle or an athletic body type can lead to unhealthy obsession with dieting, addiction to muscle enhancements such as steroids, and over-exercising.”

The most cited dysphoria in relation to the non conformity community is body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). Body dysmorphia and gender is one the top trending searches on internet search engines, why? Dysmorphia disorder is defined as a false sense of “ugliness” of one’s image. Non-binary individuals should not describe themselves as imagining any part of them as ugly or uncomfortable in their skin. The discomfort that non binary individuals may feel is usually from the uneasiness of their existence.

Everyone on this Earth is made up of the same qualities that make us human. The interchanging, intermixing, and intermingling of the pronouns his, her, their, they, or my are just pronouns. Who we truly are will always remain inside of us. Some people would say that the source of mental turmoil is when the heart and logic are not aligned. Everyday people fight between what they know and how they feel. Close bonds with people who are similar to you are comforting. However, no one wants to live in a bubble forever. Yet, plenty of non-binary individuals feel isolation and depression from ridicule. These kinds of emotional disorders often develop into even more serious illnesses, like addictions. Studies including non-binary identity persons, solidifies the increasing prevalence of substance use and forms of recovery help with drugs and alcohol abuse among LGBTAIQ. Who wants to live this kind of life riddled with addictions and dark corners? Life is meant to be engaging, and full of colors. Not all so-called outsiders are looking to be outcast from the general population.