Since discovering that I'm non-binary, I've invested a lot of time and energy into figuring out exactly what that means. I don't fit into mainstream non-cis narratives (primarily since I'm not a trans man) so it's been difficult finding ways to talk about my gender. I still can't articulate much of it, but this is the closest I've gotten. I hope that in writing this, I'm adding something to the conversation. This is a deeply personal narrative and I don't need or expect it to apply to other non-binary people.
I’m an agender woman. To me this means that I identify with womanhood in a social and political sense, but not as a personal identifier. I don’t experience gender in any meaningful personal way. I’m feminine (mostly), I want to give birth to kids at some point, I don’t particularly want to physically transition much and I'm not especially distressed by people using she/her pronouns with me. This, however, doesn’t make me female. That’s just something ascribed to me because of my anatomy. I don't know if that makes me trans though; I'm very wary of appropriating labels and experiences that are not mine to claim.
I was raised as a girl and the world sees me as female in pretty much every sense. As such, the world treats me like a woman. I choose to acknowledge and celebrate that experience by identifying with womanhood, hence being an agender woman. The way in which I am treated also means that I understand some of what real (by that I mean both cis and trans) women experience. This, along with fact that I often have difficulty forming relationships with men, means that I generally seek out the social/political company of other women.
Whilst I don’t know if I suffer physical dysphoria per se, there are times that I despise the perceived female-ness of my body more than anything, especially my bust size. If I do chose to physically transition in future (which I'm very undecided on) I would get a significant breast reduction. Ideally, I’d like to have a lot more potential for fluidity in my gender presentation, from semi-masculine, through androgyny, right up to high femme. However, because of the inflexible femininity of my body, I feel trapped. I do enjoy feminine fashions and makeup is one of my great passions, but the main reason my style is so consistently and persistently feminine is that I don’t feel like I have many other options. I play with androgyny - with button down shirts, trousers and masculine shoes - as much as I am able, but I’m really vain and refuse to wear anything that doesn’t look right on me, which rules out most masculine fashions.
My preferred pronouns are they/them for a number of reasons. The most obvious is that more than being gender neutral, they’re completely non-gendered. Everything from groups of people, to plants, to inanimate objects are referred to as ‘they’. Second, compared to some other gender neutral options, they’re easy to remember and use. The fallacious claims of grammar sergeants aside, most English speakers will know how to use ‘they’ pronouns comfortably. This will make things much easier if/when I choose to come out more generally and also minimises inconvenience and discomfort for those around me. I’m not trying to suggest that other non-binary people should choose their pronouns on the basis of cis comfort, but I don’t like being awkward or inconvenient so the comfort and convenience of others forms a significant part of my decision making process in my day to day life. The final reason for using ‘they’ pronouns is a much more indistinct one that I will do my best to explain. ‘They’ pronouns, with their general emphasis on groups, imply a level of plurality I feel. Being afab, agender and a woman feels almost like holding together three conflicting visions of personhood. Being AFAB (assigned female at birth) is something I was given and has shaped my childhood and adolescence. Agender is a word that best describes the absence of gender I feel, a gap in my self perception like a long rest in a piece of music. ‘Woman’ is an identity label that I have made the conscious decision to choose for myself. The community I have built for myself on the basis of womanhood is very important to me. Whilst my agender-ness is unlikely to lose me any friends, the shared experience of sexism and misogyny is one I find much too important to give up. My AFAB-ness and woman-ness are deeply interconnected, but both exist largely separate of my agender-ness. Cisnormativity is constantly trying to make me use the former fill the empty space created by the latter. But it would be like filling lungs with water; I need that space to live and breathe.
If ever I come out in general, I’ll use Mx. as an honorific. Again, I like the gender neutrality of it. Even so, I won’t be changing my name. My Nigerian name is gender neutral anyway, but even my Western name is tied to my parents, my childhood faith and my godmother in a way that means too much to me to sacrifice for a gender neutrality I will likely never be able to achieve, at least not for many years. So for now, I stick to Ms.; Miss is a total no-no and it is highly unlikely that, should I marry, I will opt for Mrs. This is because my womanhood is based solely on my relationship with and proximity to other women, and Miss/Mrs is historically based on a woman’s relationship with men. That’s something I want absolutely nothing to do with.
In short, I am agender and I am a woman. I am not female, a girl and especially not a lady. I am they, but will tolerate she. I may one day be Mx. and for now I am Ms. but not Miss and I will likely never be Mrs.
Second generation British-Nigerian fat agender person. Style enthusiast, decent baker and lazy poet.
Find me on instagram @mazisahedgehog