It’s been almost three weeks since I came out as agender, and it’s been overall very awesome. My initial post got a lot of support, expected and unexpected, and I couldn’t be more grateful to those friends and family for being so open.
I don’t know how often I’ll do this kind of blog post, so I just want to take moment to remind everyone that I’m happy to answer questions as long as I’m not blindsided by them. Over the internet is fine, and in person will probably be okay as long as you tell me you want to hang out to talk about agenderness and such.
All that said, I have some stuff to share.
I want to start with pronouns. Like I said in my coming out post, they/them is the most accurate set for me right now. I gave people the option of continuing to use she/her because they didn’t bother me, and because I know genderqueer identities are confusing for people who don’t encounter them often.
What I didn’t count on was how much more invisible I would feel. My online communities have been perfect, but offline? I don’t meet a lot of new people, so I have to rely on the people I already know to adjust with me. And with the exception of my husband and a few friends at WorldCon, I haven’t felt the same support offline as I have online. Love, yes; support, not as much. More on that later!
Generally speaking, the feminine markers in my life–my name, my clothes–didn’t hurt me before I came out, I think because I was used to them. Cait is the name I’ve had my whole life. She/her are the pronouns people have always used to identify me. And yes, I stuck those pronouns in my Twitter profile when I was first learning about trans and non-binary identities, because I thought, “Yeah, these don’t feel bad.”
Now, though, I’m afraid that if I wear a dress, it’s all over, because offline most people still call me Cait and are still using she/her, as far as I know–which is the other issue with pronouns, they’re mostly used outside of the person’s presence. I broke down crying in the shower the other weekend because all of my clothes are feminine and I was devastated that I would be clocked as female no matter what I did. I had to go out right away to shop for masculine clothing, which was itself a stressful disaster.
I’m agender and I still like feminine things. But I’m struggling with my enjoyment of those things and the need to assert my genderlessness. In order to feel comfortable expressing femininity again, I need to know that the people around me, especially offline, understand and support my identity.
This may be time for a key distinction: I know my friends and family still love me. I know they support me, even amidst their confusion. But how many times have we seen love divorced from understanding? How often is support unexpressed, how easy for it to turn into avoidance of the whole topic?
I gave family and friends the option to continue using Cait and she/her, but how many of you are doing that without changing how you think about me? If singular they is the confusing part, I’d almost rather you use he/him, because then at least you’re acknowledging that I’m not a woman. I gave the Cait/she/her option, honestly, because I was afraid that if I asked too much, I would be ignored, and my requests rejected. I know I said things didn’t have to change, but now I’m wondering if I need change more than I thought.
If you are changing how you think of me–if you know, really know, that I’m agender–I need to know. In my last post I requested that I not be asked questions in person, but that’s because I don’t want to be interrogated or get into arguments. Expressions of support and acknowledgment are totally welcome in person, though! Still, it doesn’t have to be in person, you can shoot me a text or FB message or a blog comment. But if I interact with you regularly I need to know that you’re on board with this and that you acknowledge who I am.
I don’t want to hurt anyone with this. This isn’t meant to be a scolding. I’m not mad. I’m just trying to state my needs in a space where both you and I can have time to digest things. I don’t want to draw a lot of attention to my being agender because that’s not what it’s about–but I don’t want my identity to be ignored, either. I asked in my coming out post not to be hit with questions in person because I’m afraid of being hurt and afraid of hurting others. And I’m so afraid that I’ll discover some friends aren’t supportive.
I don’t have a rulebook. This is hella fucking scary, y’all. I need you guys.