Living between the binary
For those reading this that know me, this may be new information to you. Something you did not know about until now. Nothing has changed in the way I identify. I am still female, but the way I feel my gender is, is different to that of feminine.
When I was younger, I used to think the word for me was ‘tomboy’ a girl who liked more masculine things and didn’t really have an interest in the feminine things such as dolls, dresses and make-up. My favourite colour is blue, and I do really hate the colour pink! I loved this about me, as did my family. The fact I did not care about wanting to fit in with my peers was something to admire, and I had a lot of self-confidence for that.
When I was older I stuck to this belief. During school, the girls would be influenced by make-up and boys and how they look. I did not take an interest in this at all. Seeking a relationship was just not on the list of things I wanted. And as for my appearance, I had long hair which I did not put a great deal of effort into, just tied it into a ponytail every day and I didn’t like make-up so never wore any. In year 11, we had a prom night. My family were so excited to go dress shopping and asking me loads of questions about how I would have my hair. But I quickly shut everyone down and said that I am not going to be wearing a dress. I am going in a suit! I love a suit and tie. I was very set on this idea; I had realised that I never want to wear a dress ever again. It just wasn’t me; I did not feel comfortable in a dress. I was the only girl wearing a suit at my prom. But I did not care, I was happy and comfortable and me.
When I was learning about my autism diagnosis, I then realised more about my own gender as well. When I was told about the ‘female’ and ‘male’ presentation of autism. I did not fit solely into one of those categories, I was a mixture of the two. I did mask, which is common in women, but I also did not care about fitting in which was more a male trait. This answered two questions. The reason why I have been diagnosed as an adult is because of the masking. Without the masking I probably would have been picked up on earlier in life. But I have moved on from that particular thought. The other was about my gender. Because I identified with both autism presentations I began to question whether I was non-binary. I do not feel particularly female, but I know that I am definitely not male. So, I must be non-binary, and this relates to both my personality and my autism presentation.
To give a definition, non-binary or sometimes called genderqueer is a gender identity outside the gender binary. That is to say it is an identity that is neither male nor female. For me, non-binary perfectly explains how I feel inside. I am not male, but I also don’t see myself as female either. I am in the middle. Biologically I am definitely female, and I understand that but my personality and characteristics are not female, they are non-binary. I live in hoodies and jogging bottoms now, partly because of the pandemic but also because I dress for comfort not fashion. I now have a shaved head. I first cut my hair short in 2018 before I went to India, but I saw this as a practicality for the hot and humid weather, I stuck with my short hair and over the years it just got shorter until now its all shaved. I never liked my hair in the first place, I didnt care what it looked like and never put any effort into it anyway, so this is a much easier option for me. And if it weren’t for my sister, I would be going around with a monobrow because I just do not care on what I look like. I know I should a little bit, but I don’t very much.
I’m going to make this next bit short and sweet because I find this topic rather uncomfortable, and it makes me cringe even typing some of these words. This is very new to me, and not something I have ever considered until now. I have never questioned my sexuality. I always assumed that I was straight. I hadn’t known or felt any different. The last few years have left me wondering why I have never had a relationship before, was it do with me or other people? The answer is the former. Its to do with me. I discovered that I am asexual. This means that I have no sexual desires, feelings or attractions. I genuinely feel nothing at all. I hope one day that I do end up in a relationship with someone but right now and maybe forever, I may not ever feel anything like that. Then an intriguing idea was said to me relating to being asexual, and that it could link to my alexithymia. Because I struggle to identify my emotions this may also affect the more sexual feelings as well because of the alexithymia.
My gender and sexuality identities are something I am still learning about and coming to terms with, but these aspects of me are also related to my autism. This is how me being autistic as lead to discovering my gender and sexuality because of how I experience the world and who I have become.
(Left: Non-Binary flag. Right: Asexual flag.)