The race to find a gender

Read Luke’s personal account of how they came to grips with their gender

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Coming to Uni

When I came to uni, I was pretty sure I had myself figured out. I was bisexual, and I was honestly really comfortable with that label, finally. Those years that I had spent figuring out my sexuality were behind me and I could embrace the exciting queer life that I now knew I wanted. I went to my first social, dressed in an oversized denim jacket, my hair cut way too short and I had one of those rainbow face paint markers in my pocket. You know, just in case someone wanted their face painted in a bar. And when I walked up to the crowd of people outside the SU, for the first time in my Fresher’s week I wasn’t terrified. I talked to people, and I think I actually felt like I belonged there.

And then when I got to the bar, I was introduced to everyone properly. While getting to know them a little, I realised I was in the biggest group of trans and non-binary people I’d ever seen. Before I came to uni, I’d known a couple of trans people. But none of them closely, and definitely nobody who’d come out as non-binary at the time. Three years later, my cis friends are probably outnumbered ten to one by those who aren’t. And at this bar, suddenly I made friends with people of so many different genders and identities and I was given these options I didn’t know I had before. I knew they’d existed, sure, but seeing people I knew, people I’d come to love, living as non-binary and being their authentic selves lit a spark inside me that was hard to put out.

Discovering I was non-binary

For me, and for a lot of people I know, realising I was non-binary was a long, confusing process because I still at least partially identified as a guy. I was still comfortable with he/him pronouns, at the time probably more than I was with they/them, and I just kept thinking that I couldn’t be non-binary enough. That I was close enough to my assigned gender that I just shouldn’t make a big deal out of it. I was stuck in that loop for a while.

It took some really incredible friends of mine to make me realise that there’s no such thing as not non-binary enough. And a few months ago something clicked in my head (probably after a couple of drinks) that being non-binary finally made sense. Someone called me they, and while I always knew that I’d use those pronouns, I’d never had that rush of excitement at them being used before. 

Hardships and dysphoria

There are still hardships that I’m having to come to terms with. The fact that, while I experience dysphoria about some things, I know there isn’t much I can actually do about that yet. That there isn’t realistically options for the kind of body I’d actually want right now. I’ve found other ways to cope with that though. With hair dye, and plans for piercings and tattoos that make me feel like I’m in control of how my body looks and feels. Plus, they look really cool. Don’t get me wrong, there are parts of it that still suck sometimes, but figuring out how to be myself is definitely helping.

Why this is an important discussion?

I wanted to talk about this for LGBT+ History Month, I guess because it’s a history that gets overlooked. Being non-binary often gets considered this new age idea, just an extension of the community invented in the last ten years. But like with trans people, like with people of lots of identities, we existed long before we had the language to explain what we are. We existed in our own way, and for centuries people have obviously existed outside the gender binary, it’s just recently that the language to explain that has become normalised. 

I’m finally coming to grips with my gender and what that means for me as a person, and I can’t explain how happy that makes me. I have a lot of people to thank for it, myself included. I’m a non-binary guy, I use he/they pronouns, and I really love that. It’s okay to take your time, I certainly did, and it’s okay to not know. And if you do realise that you’re not cis, know you’ve got a whole army of us behind you.

Getting support

If you need support please get in touch with our Student Advice team. You can also find information on our LGBTQ+ webpages.

Luke Caesari | he/they | Second Year

 

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