Gender identity is freedom, freedom from the boxes society makes, the boxes I tried to make myself fit in for so many years. Freedom from a mask so heavy I wonder how it took so long for me to see it. Brainwashed by society I tried to force myself into the role of a ‘lady’.

When it was clear that wasn’t me, I tried to embrace my childhood tomboy ways and dress sense but still so often acted how I thought I should. So often I ended up degrading myself, going along with men because I felt it was expected of me. Ignoring any pain or discomfort in sex. It was clearly my fault, everything always was. From a young age, even when I tried to get things right I felt I was in trouble so why keep trying? Why not give in to this rebellious label? Which as hormones started flying soon turned into being a slut. I spoke to everyone the same, I didn’t really see gender as anything to take into account when meeting someone, before I’d even had voluntary sex I was known as a slut because I’d ‘flirt with everyone’. I didn’t think I was flirting, I thought I was just talking. But a slut had female quonetations, so I assumed the identity. If I was bolshy enough then maybe I could take back control? But that didn’t happen. Time and time again I ended up in situations I didn’t want to be in but didn’t know how to stop. All because I kept trying to do what I thought was expected of me.

There is no person, no collection of people, no government or organisation that can decide my gender. Or that have a right to make assumptions on how someone of any gender should act. There’s no rules as to how I should act, how I should dress or look. Only I can tell you what my gender truly means to me. But I also don’t have to. If you meet a cis person do you ever question why they identify with the gender they were assigned at birth? I understand that without being told my gender, it may not be obvious, I’m not offended by strangers misgendering me, or colleagues who I have not come out to. But why when I disclose my gender, even to people I know, do I so often find myself almost apologising for the inconvenience of having to think outside the binary? When people look confused by the concept of neutral pronouns, why do I usually say not to worry, that I don’t mind when I really do. And when people who are used to neutral pronouns look confused by neopronouns, why do I say ‘they’ is fine? 

I am so used to bending over for society, ignoring my own discomforts and needs to try and not rock the boat. It sometimes seems easier to fit in whatever box the person I’m talking to has put me in, to ignore me, to not make a big deal out of it, to not have to keep talking about and defining my gender. But I don’t deserve to be treated like this, by myself or anyone else. I deserve to allow myself to be me without fear or guilt.

I am still on my own journey of discovery, I don’t have the time or energy to educate everyone I know and meet. I am not here to be a fountain of queer knowledge. I am here to be me, entirely and unapologetically me.