All this gender is wearing me out

I really don’t get the deal where society smears gender all over everything all the time.

Yesterday I got “ma’am”ed, I got “gentlemen”ed, I got “sir”ed, and I got “she”-ed and “her”-ed more times than I can count. It’s not like I was doing anything related to gender when any of it happened.

It wasn’t really more gender-flinging than usual. But I’m more tired than usual.

No matter how much it happens, it never stops giving me that awful pit in my stomach.

I’ve always felt like interacting with people is like trying to swim upstream. Everyone’s pushing me to move in the direction they expect me to move, instead of the direction I’m going.

They don’t do it on purpose. They’re just used to everyone going in certain ways, and they assume I’m doing that, too.

Coming out as agender has helped. Now I don’t have to stay away from people entirely if I’m going to feel like myself. Now I have people around me who are letting up on some of that pressure. There’s people who aren’t shoving my face in gender whenever we hang out. It’s nice.

It often takes a lot of practice for folks to recognize the ways they make things about gender in the first place. It’s a slow and tricky process. I’m grateful for the people in my life working through it.

Without them, I’d probably be living alone in the woods by now. Because society very clearly doesn’t want me to be part of it. Society needs me to be just as much about gender as they are, and I am not.

As a general rule, if I’m around people, I know I’m going to get my face rubbed in their demands for me to have a gender. And I’m going to get one imposed on me whether I have it or not. Who I actually am is not allowed. Who I actually am doesn’t even get to use the bathroom. I have to sneak into one of the bathrooms for more gendery people. And hopefully when I do, I seem gendery enough not to freak someone out or get blocked from entry or get asked to leave or get teased about being in the wrong place (all of which are more likely to happen than not if I attempt to use a public bathroom).

And I know—nobody means any harm. I don’t have any hard feelings towards anyone about this. People don’t know what they don’t know. And they just need to understand more so that the world becomes a more accepting place.

But educating takes a lot of work. And not everyone wants to be educated. Most people need to be convinced that there’s even something to be educated about.

I try to let people know that the gender they’re imposing on me isn’t accurate, but it’s not often as simple as “I’m not a she, I’m a they.”

Most people don’t know nonbinary is a thing, and a lot of them think it’s a joke or a delusion. Some even think it’s the loving thing to do to quote the Bible to me out of context, usually with the line “male and female He created them”—and to tell me that if I try to exist as myself, I’m going to hell. They usually think they know who I am better than I do—even if they’ve never met me. I’m not likely to be able to educate people like that.

There’s not a lot of interest in my point of view to begin with. And even if there were …

Explaining takes energy, and energy runs out.

But the situations where I have to explain myself if I’m going to escape gender purgatory? Those don’t run out.

Getting a gender wrongly imposed on me happens constantly. And it’s not like I have time for a full-fledged conversation every time it happens. When the busy barista asks me and my dad, “gentlemen, can I grab any food for you?” while she’s trying to zip through her line of customers faster, I’m not about to jump into an explanation about how I’m not really a man.

She’s in a hurry, and in my experience, people are already going to think of my lack of gender as an inconvenience to them. If I’m going to bring it up, it needs to be when the act of explaining isn’t, in itself, its own inconvenience.

Also, I’m not interested in giving strangers the false impression that I’m inviting them to ask me questions about my genitals. That’s how these discussions are often taken. It’s mind-blowing how comfortable strangers are asking me about what’s in my pants when all I’ve done is let them know I’m not the gender they just told me I was. Apparently if you’re trans people don’t think twice about dehumanizing you.

I guess I’m like everyone else in that some days, the best I can do is limit my exposure to people who need me to be someone I’m not.

For me, this means avoiding all strangers, all acquaintances, and all of the friends and family who still think I’m a woman.

Today is one of those days.

People need me to be a gender that I’m not, and then it’s on me to convince them that I can’t meet this need. That need is the problem—not my inability to meet it. But people are still going to be offended that I can’t meet their need, and are going to expect me to try to meet it anyway. They feel entitled to defining my gender for me. That’s a gross violation of personal boundaries.

When that’s the baseline of what it means to be around people, sometimes it’s just not worth it.

Today, I’m tired. Too tired to explain my lack of gender to anyone. Too tired to army-crawl along my timeline while people try to bury me in gender.

One day, I’d love to go about my life like anybody else. Like anybody with a “normal” gender.

Maybe that will become possible within my lifetime. Who knows, maybe I can even help it happen for other people like me.

Maybe in the next 20 years, an agender kid will be born, and they’ll get to have a normal life.

Wouldn’t that be cool?

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