I am dusting off this much-neglected blog space at the cusp of a new decade, in the waning days of 2019. This has been quite a year for me, and 2020 promises to bring further changes, including a name change, which I will elaborated upon further.
I am in the process of trying to assume an identity that feels authentic for me, and I feel like this has been a lifelong mission of sorts. There are, of course, man levels of identity. As an animist, I feel that every identity carries with it a sort of spirit, or essence, of its own. I would like this identity that I project to be an accurate reflection of who I feel myself to be- for lack of a better word, the “real me.”
This year, I familiarized myself with the term “agender”, not for the first time, but in a way that allowed me to confront long-repressed feelings within myself. Agender, for the uninitiated, simply means “without a gender”, and it is a gender identity that exists outside of the culturally sanctioned gender binary of male and female. For some people, this idea in of itself is controversial, but it is not a new one.
I was, of course, born female and raised as a girl. But it never felt quite right for me- I had to make myself learn how to do girly things, and when I did them, I felt like I was simply pretending to be a girl. Yet if I tried to pretend I was a boy, it didn’t feel right, either. Instead, I spent a lot of time basically being a phony, and only now do I feel like I am unraveling all my varied experiences and the many ways in which I view the world and myself, stretching back to those early childhood days up until the present.
The thing about identity, even gender identity, is that it’s not actually all that stable. I am not the same person I was as a child. Or a year ago. Or even ten minutes ago. Everything in life is change, change, change. I am starting to become comfortable with this, because the idea of change used to be very distressing to me, to the point that the anxiety would cause me to dissociate. Under stress, including the stress to perform my assigned gender, I would feel myself start to drift away, until I felt completely unfixed from the human form, gender or sex. Yet even at the best of times, I simply feel more like a mental being in the way that I view myself, almost like an entity than an embodied form. My body is just the vessel I happen to inhabit, which is why for me, body dysphoria has never really been a huge deal.
So, am I changing my gender as I step into 2020? I suppose yes, but also no.
Many people like to associate a gender transition with butterflies. We all seem to be fascinated with this idea of the ugly caterpillar becoming a beautiful butterfly who can transcend earthbound limitations. But the problem with this is that we always tend to focus on the “before” state and what came after, rarely stopping to consider the very act of transformation itself, which is honestly, pretty fucking brutal most of the time.
So if on the outside it looks like I’m handling all this change just fine, I can assure you that under the hood, things are a lot more complicated. My mind is like ‘fuck all of this, I don’t need to be bargaining all the time if this is actually worth it.’ My heart is like, ‘be more patient with yourself and surrender to the process and time.’ My soul is like, ‘we have to do this, it’s part of the plan.’
Well, scared and anxious or not, now feels like as good as any other time to fully embrace all the change in my life, and to no longer run away from the problems that I feel have been haunting me for so long. I need to go through this to heal. So that is why I’m stepping forward now with what feels like the real me, as best as I can describe it at this time. It is me without gender (but, if anything, at the end of the day no gender is kind of like all genders- and there seems to be a whole lot of these going around), and with fewer of the assumptions that I felt were instilled in me at a young age. I am working to overcome the old wounds and trauma, as I feel we all owe it to ourselves to conquer our demons we encounter on the quest toward our most authentic selves.
I am now using the term nonbinary, as I feel that this label adequately describes my identity as I perceive it to be at this time. This could change- after all, we are all constantly evolving.
So, if you’ve made it this far, allow me to introduce myself.
I am Rowan.
I am they/them.
I am a fellow journeyer in this experience we call life, and I acknowledge you, bright shining soul that you are who is also living an embodied experience, for who you are. Thank you for your patience, and I wish you all the love and best of your personal journeys of self-discovery and growth as well.