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Why do some nonbinary folks consider themselves trans?

Nov 17, 2022

Why do some nonbinary folks consider themselves trans and others don’t? 

So this relates a to the last question where I talked about how labels need to be thought of as descriptors, not prescriptive.

Labels aren’t telling us what we can do and should do.

Labels are there for us to talk about ourselves. 

People who are nonbinary are people who do not identify with a binary gender.

They may be a gender.

They may be gender queer.

They may be gender fluid.

They may be bi gender.

They may be two spirits if they are Native American.

There is a lot of different ways that nonbinary can show up.

It is a huge umbrella for a lot of different experiences of gender that people have. 

A lot of nonbinary folks – I’ll speak for myself.

So when I first started identifying as nonbinary, I didn’t feel like it was OK for me to identify as trans unless I was going to do some sort of medical transition or some more significant social transition by like changing my name.

I had changed my pronouns but I felt uncomfortable saying that I was trans because I felt like I didn’t qualify because I hadn’t done the things to meet the standard. 

And I’m also a bisexual.

And the biggest bisexual thing is feeling you’re not queer enough for bisexuality or for queerness club.

So again, the biggest thing with bisexuality often is like feeling like you’re not queer enough to count as queer or like you’re somehow appropriating queerness by being bisexual if you are dating someone of a different gender than your own. 

I think a lot of nonbinary folks feel like if they identify as trans but are not medically transitioning or changing their name or doing something of that sort then they are like taking up space or resources from transpeople who need it.

And I think that there are ways in which that could be true, right?

If you start centering your perspective above all others when you are someone who is not necessarily medically or socially transitioning much, not changing much your life, that could be a problem. 

But there is no limit in the amount of space there is for transpeople or queer people.

We aren’t going to reach the societal cap on queers.

We aren’t going to reach the societal cap on transpeople. 

So I think that a lot of this is about ways that a lot of the narrative around transness has to do with things like medical transition, things like more significant or serious social transition has to do a with a much more binary experience.

And so, when looking at what it is to be trans based on the stories that are available, a lot of nonbinary folks look at those stories and are like, “Well, I don’t really want to get surgery. I don’t necessarily want to change my name. So am I even trans?” 

And to be frank especially on the internet, there are some binary trans folk who are awful to nonbinary people and do not count them under the label and get very upset when nonbinary people identify as trans.

So this is not just something that nonbinary people make up in their heads.

This is a very real thing that happens and that people experience. 

And again, a label is something you get to choose to describe yourself.

If you feel like trans is a label that would be helpful for you in describing yourself when you’re nonbinary, even if you don’t intend to medical transition, even if you don’t want to change your name, you still get to use that label.

Whatever it means for you, if you – like trans just means you do not identify with the gender you were assigned at birth. 

So if you are nonbinary, that is a label that can apply to you even if you never take hormones, even if you never get surgery, even if you never changed your name.

If you are identifying as nonbinary, I can almost guarantee that your birth certificate did not say nonbinary but you did not come out of your parent and then have the doctor say, “It’s a nonbinary!”

So you are trans if you want to be. 

I also think that again, part of labels is about ways that we join groups or signal our affiliation with groups or seek community from those who are like us.

And the trans space is not always super welcoming to nonbinary people.

And so, a lot of nonbinary people may not want to identify as trans because it just doesn’t feel like it’s for them.

It feels like that space is very much for people who are not like them, for people who are binary, for people who are just going from man to woman or woman to man, and that is where they are.

And like that is also valid. 

So when it comes to why does some people who are nonbinary say that they are trans while others don’t, the answer is that it’s a label that has a lot of very complicated feelings for nonbinary people and there’s a lot of very complicated community dynamics that also make it challenging in terms of whether that is a label that feels right for you. 

I do identify as trans and nonbinary.

I have taken hormones.

I haven’t been taken hormones recently.

Part of my experience of my gender is I’ll start taking hormones and be like, “Man, it will so great when this thing happens and my body changes in this way and then my body starts changing in that way and I freak the fuck out and have to take a break from hormones for a bit.”

And so like that is the stage that I’m in right now is that I had very much been enjoying having more hair on my legs and seeing it go further on my legs.

And then I started seeing hair on my upper thighs and like some more hair on my pubic area and I was like, “Oh, absolutely not! This is wrong. I need to stop.” 

And so, that may change and maybe go back on testosterone soon.

It may not.

It’s hard to say.

But my experience with medical transition is that it’s very challenging to navigate medical transition as a nonbinary person whose gender shifts and changes a lot because the changes that you get from hormones are very static, whereas my experience of my gender is very fluid and beautiful. 

And so, it’s hard to know what changes and how much change is good for me because what I really want is hot swappable body parts.

I want to be able to just click my tits off when I don’t want them and put them back on when I do.

I want a live bio dick that I can clip on when I feel like it and unclip when I don’t.

I want the flexibility to be able to shift my body to fit what’s happening for me in my gender that day.

And we don’t have that technology.

So instead, I have to use these very blunt instruments of change that I don’t even get to pick which of the changes that are going to affect.

I just have to take them and see what happens.

And I think that that’s much more complicated. 

So, I do consider myself trans.

I had a lot more difficulty speaking about myself as trans before I did hormones because it felt like almost like stolen valor of like I don’t deserve to be able to use the trans label because I haven’t trans-ed in the right way or hard enough or something.

And that is bullshit.

But it’s not a hundred percent bullshit.

It is very much a thought that is shared by many binary transpeople and cis folks.

So it’s complicated. 

The short answer is it’s messy and complicated because of internal ideas about what labels mean because of interpersonal dynamics, because of community dynamics, because of social dynamics, because of social media dynamics, because of discourse.

All of that makes figuring out where you fit under the trans umbrella or not as a nonbinary person much more complicated and messy. 

So if a person is nonbinary, they may or may not identify as trans and the only way you will know is if they talk to you about it.

And there’s no right answer here.

If you are a nonbinary person who feels like you haven’t earned the ability to identify as trans, you have.

You can use that label if you want to.

You don’t need to do anything else to use that label.

If you don’t want to use that label for whatever reason, that is also super valid.

Don’t use that label. 

So make the choice that’s right for you.

Don’t feel like you have to earn it or do a specific thing in order to qualify.

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