It wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned that you were able to identify as something other than the bits you were born with. I just graduated from college and knew that I wanted to help people, but didn’t know in which direction to go. So I joined AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, a federally funded program for 18-25 year olds who work together on teams with nonprofits around the country. My team was sitting in a circle introducing ourselves while we waited to get our uniforms and gear along with the other members of the Blue Unit at the base in Sacramento. One of my teammates told us that they were trans and didn’t identify as either gender, but leaned more towards masculinity than femininity. And that blew my mind.
Growing up I went through phases of wearing pink and being soft to wearing plaid and trying to be sporty and tough, but no matter what I did, nothing ever felt right. I know most kids growing up go through phases and feel awkward in their body, but I felt like a stranger in my own skin. I was raised by my mom and grandmas, but when I was 8 my mom married an authoritarian with anger issues. White, heterosexual, and being cisgender were my normal, and I didn’t know it was okay or even possible to be anything other than that. My public school education has failed me on many levels, but my high school health teacher talked to us about “Mr Penis” and “Mrs Vagina” who were married, and then she passed out dinner mints that said “sex is mint for marriage” on the wrapper. She never discussed gender as different than biological sex, or even relationships outside of heteronormativity. My friends would talk about how many babies they wanted to have and then would look at me waiting for an answer. My answer was always a face and saying that I would rather adopt than have one of my own. I have just never had the desire to shove a watermelon out of my body.
It wasn’t until moving out to California and working at Fortunate Farm that I really even began to appreciate that I had a vulva. I was surrounded by strong and empowered women, and when we synced together we would make one another tea or share a bite from our chocolate stash. I still wasn’t a fan of bleeding for a week every month, but I began to whisper “Viva La Vulva” as I pulled the tampon string like a guillotine and I became transfixed watching the different shades of red from the Diva Cup’s shot glass worth of blood swirl into the toilet water. I began to think more about the women in my family who raised me, and the ones who helped raise them. How their fundamental rights were basically nonexistent, or were granted to them by the men they carried in their wombs, and how lucky they were because they were white.
Around the same time I began to realize and accept that I was nonbinary, my arm implant birth control was making me bleed constantly and causing me to have anxiety attacks that would last for hours. So I decided enough was enough, the tubes must be tied. On Mother’s Day I sat in the Harvest Market parking lot and told my mom that I didn’t feel like I was either male or female, but somewhere in the murky middle and that I had made the decision to get my tubes tied. She was quiet for a while, letting my words sink in, then she told me she would support whatever decision I made in my life, she just didn’t want me to regret anything.
In the state of California when you want a tubal ligation, you have to sign and submit some paperwork, wait 30 days, and then if you haven’t changed your mind you can make the appointment to get the surgery. It just so happened that the 30 days were up on my 25th birthday, so I made the appointment as a gift to myself. My mom came out for my surgery and sat with me as the nurses and doctors prepped me. One of the doctors used the term sterilization instead of tubal ligation, and at that my mom began to cry. She told me again that she supported my decision, and that I would always be her daughter. So I corrected her, and told her that I would always be her child.
At first I was afraid to tell people that I was nonbinary. I was worried that they would think that I was a fraud or just saying it for attention. But now, especially after the election, I see coming out as an act of defiance so I posted it on Facebook, and luckily I’ve surrounded myself with caring and loving people. I have had to answer a few questions for family members, but it has been a great opportunity for us to have honest conversations that we normally would not have had. I am trying to use my privileges as a white person that passes as a female to become a force for good, and have tough but compassionate conversations with people.
Age : 26