Noah, Or My Manly Chin
Hi. I’m non-binary. This is not a comprehensive term for me. I use this term, largely, for the benefit and connection of others. Saying my gender identity in its natural state is, as I imagine it, like pronouncing words from languages your communication orifice is not equipped for. And this is who I’ve always been. There’s pictures.
I am watching Season 2, Episode 1 of “We’re Here.” (Side note: I watch so much queer TV that I get targeted ads for Prep) In this episode, a person named Noah says: “I hate my manly legs” (paraphrase) and Eureka responds with: “If you had slim lady legs how would you feel? Would you hate them too?” Noah says: “Probably.” I say welcome, Noah, to my exact experience of my gender.
There has, all of my life, burned a desire to look neither feminine nor entirely masculine. It was, really, what led me to entering the goth subculture of the early 2000’s. The androgynous aesthetic was the cornerstone of the goth fashion at the time — I cannot speak for today, since I am no longer involved with that subculture. It was also a time when I realized it was not only my personal desire to be andro, but also finding out it was also key to my sexual orientation. However, I have a lot of gendering emotional damage from my internal identity not matching the body I have.
People, like me, who have been plus-sized for their entire life, know the sharp pain of having their bodies be a source of open contention. There are countless reasons for why someone is of a larger body type, and I am here to inform non-large people that it almost never has to do with food. We are so much more aware of our eating than you can ever even imagine. It is no one’s place to inform a larger-bodied person by anyone other than their personal physician of their health, their abilities, or criticize their food choices. Yet, it is STILL the acceptable abuse, strangely, in a culture that has an obesity epidemic! Being accosted for my size was what made me so intimately aware of my body at all times. It may very well play a key role in why my body feels so very wrong to me. However, I am still non-binary.
My body, due to its ability to retain weight, is gendered. It betrays that I am AFAB. Hips, breasts, ass. You might say “YAAASS girl” to this, but it is not always a yes for me. My default state is andro, so these gendering features make me weep inside. I am envious of thinner people who can bind their breasts or wear skinny jeans without appearing obviously female. As a gender-fluid person, I sometimes don’t mind or even like appearing obviously female, but there are times when the mirror reflects nothing of myself also. I don’t get to trade in the boobs for a beard tomorrow. I don’t have the ability to slim my hips at will. The NB uniform for larger bodies is jeans/khakis shorts or pants, and a baggy button-up shirt. FOREVER. I am not transitioning, because it really is who I’ve always been, so my andro or masculine clothing choices are always the same.
When I was younger, I hated my chin. People told me that my sharp features and square jaw were ugly, masculine. I heard that my big hands weren’t dainty. I internalized this hatred. I hated them in myself. I hated myself for being larger because the world hates larger people. When you’re gender-fluid, oh man there’s so much to hate any given day. Noah says their legs are manly, and I very much understand that. I hated my gendering features, either masculine or feminine. Then I realized something so important: I not only don’t care that my presentation is confusing to others, I love that it is. I have hairy armpits and legs, I’m plus-sized, I have a manly chin. If these features are disagreeable (or better yet, disgusting) to others, I am delighted. My features aren’t the problem, it is another’s belief that they have this right to my body.
Gendering is such a point of sorrow for many non-binary people. One of my favorite non-binary drag performers once said: “Non-binary people do not owe you androgyny.” As a non-binary person, I will go so far as to say I don’t owe anyone anything where it comes to my body. Not sex, not beauty, not thinness, not androgyny, not femininity, not masculinity, not an explanation. I have enough judgment on my body coming from myself. The judgment of others just reminds me to be kinder to myself.
On any given day, I can identify in any of the recognized genders: andro non-binary, female, male. I use my body to reaffirm my identity. When I am more masc, I think on my chin or hands, and love them. When I am more femme, I think on my hips or waist. When I am neither or both, my arms and legs because everyone has them. You can find something to love about your body ALWAYS.