|Sep. 25th, 2013 10:39 am Disclosure|
I read with interest the post Disclosure is a Spectrum, published yesterday on the neutrois/nonbinary gender blog Neutrois Nonsense. I've been fairly public about my gender transition process, but I respect that not everyone would feel so comfortable posting publicly about such a controversial decision (and many could lose their jobs, relationships, or even lives by doing so). My reasons for doing so are in part because I've always been public about the significant ways in which I deviate from mainstream society. I'll give a few examples.3 notes - Make notes
The first is being an atheist, my most longstanding non-mainstream identity, over 25 years and counting. In the San Francisco Bay Area, being an atheist is hardly unusual or even worthy of note, so most of the time I don't bother to mention it. Many of my friends are atheists or agnostics, and those that aren't don't push their religious beliefs on me (or we wouldn't be friends). If the topic of religion comes up or is relevant I will mention that I don't believe in any god/desses, but I haven't been an activist about it. Sometimes I think I should be, given all the damage I've seen inflicted on people in the name of religion. But it isn't a top priority for me right now.
The second is being vegan. Though I've only been strictly vegan (other than honey) for a couple of years, I've been vegetarian since '92, and had been trying to go vegan that entire time. Again, veganism and vegetarianism are hardly unusual in the Bay Area, but it does come up on social occasions, much more frequently than religion, obviously whenever I go out to eat. Few of my friends are vegan, though many are at least semi-vegetarian. I've been reluctant to be a vegan activist for various reasons that are too complex to go into in this post, but it's a very important part of my lifestyle.
The third relates to my sexual orientation. I came out as bisexual in '92 and have never made any attempt to hide that orientation, even marching with the bisexual contingent of the Pride Parade on several occasions. As I posted earlier this week I've come to realize that "bisexual" is a problematic orientation for a person of nonbinary gender, so I'm tempted to say I'm pansexual or polysexual. But given my much stronger attraction to men and my masculine sex identity, I'm essentially gay. In any case, in the Bay Area many sexual orientations flourish, and people probably feel less need to be in the closet here than anywhere else. It's a large part of why I love living here.
The fourth is being polyamorous. I've been poly since my first marriage in '97. Even in the Bay Area this is not a mainstream lifestyle, though many of my friends practice it. I've been much more public about being poly than some of my friends, and have strongly preferred to date people who are public about being poly because I really don't like keeping that aspect of myself hidden. I respect people who wish to stay monogamous, but monogamy feels so unnatural to me that I couldn't be that way without major distress, and I want polyamory to be recognized as a legitimate, healthy lifestyle for those who choose it.
So when it comes to being genderqueer, transgender, or trans* if you prefer, I feel this is just another part of my essential makeup; it just happens to have taken 43 years to realize it. I'm no more ashamed of being genderqueer than I am of having brown eyes, and feel no more need to hide my gender (or lack thereof) than my eye color. The problem is that if I don't speak out about it, my trans* status is invisible. Making major physical changes might make me look less female, but nothing other than repeated explanations, in person and in writing, will disclose my nonbinary status. And like polyamory, pansexuality, veganism, and atheism, I want to make it seen that being genderqueer is a valid identity and lifestyle choice, and hopefully make it safer for others who reject binary gender to speak out.