Content warning: enbyphobia.
You wonder if people understand how it feels when you’re in a group project, and one of your team members says, “We got this, girls!”
You think to yourself, oh. I guess I haven’t got this, then.
Or when you’re at an event and the host says, “Welcome, ladies and gentlemen. Or welcome everyone, I should say, ‘cause we have to be politically correct.”
You think to yourself, oh. I guess I have to stay here.
Or when you’re filling out a survey and the only options for gender are ‘Male’ or ‘Female.’
You think to yourself, oh. I guess they don’t want my opinion after all.
Or when you overhear a Zoom tutorial on gender diversity and someone asks, “But what if I want to ask them [insert insensitive question]?”
You think to yourself, skin crawling, oh. I guess I’m just a case study.
Or when you display “she/her” in your email signature and realise how that makes you sound.
You think to yourself, oh. I guess I’m setting myself up for trouble. Even though I can use whatever pronouns I want. Present how I want. Be who I want.
Or when you find out that the day you were born, March 8th, is International Women’s Day.
Oh, you think. Pause. That’s actually pretty funny. Fuck you too, world.
This is a day in your life:
You wake up and do your thing, then other people come in and act like you’re someone else. They think you’re a woman, a Venus, an object, a ‘not like other girls’ girl.
But you’re not even a girl in the first place? So what the fuck?
But you keep that to yourself.
It’s safer this way.
“PSYCH. FUCK YOU,” you shout. Everyone falls over in shock. Your team members blink. The host lowers their mic. The survey’s researcher gasps. The tutorial attendee stares. Everybody you’ve emailed halts in their reply. Even your mother clutches her pearls.
“Respectfully, that is,” you add.
“But why?” they ask.
“‘Cause I’m non-binary, a-holes.”
“But your name! Your pronouns! The way you look!”
You shrug. “So? Get over yourselves.”
“We didn’t know! You never told us!”
“GEE, I WONDER WHY I NEVER DID WITH SUCH REASSURING REACTIONS.” Pause. You laugh. It’s better than crying. “I don’t care that you didn’t know I’m non-binary. I care that you never thought it was possible. You treat me like an afterthought, an obligation, a case study, some impossible impostor, like I can’t be in the same room as you, like I can’t hear you talk about me in the third person. Or you forget me entirely. WELL, NOT ANYMORE!”
You steal the host’s mic and drop it. It hits the floor with a satisfying thud.
“Oh,” says your team members.
“Oh,” says the host.
“Oh,” says the researcher.
“Oh,” says the tutorial attendee.
“Oh,” says your email inbox.
“I guess you have a point,” says your mother. “But your birth date isn’t my fault.”
You balk. “Mum, what the fuck? I don’t blame you for giving birth to me on a day that coincidentally celebrates women.”
She looks at you. Like you’re a broken mirror. Then her arms are around you, awkward as a promise, safe as a cradle, and broken or not, you don’t need fixing.
And she has a lot to learn, they all do, and you hope they will learn, for you, for the next person, for themselves.
And you will do what you always have:
You say to yourself, “Yeah. I’ve got this.”