Welcome to AH&HL’s first annual guest-post series for Trans Awareness Week! The “Trans People and their Laptops” series aims to share a diverse set of trans stories, histories, and celebrations. This post is by nonbinary bisexual writer, Chiara (she/they/he). Read all identity posts.
“Who am I today?”, that’s the question I ask myself every morning. You’d probably wonder why I do this: my secret is that I’m genderfluid. And I say secret because almost no one knows it. But let’s start from the beginning of my story.
Twenty years and seven months ago… nah, I’m just joking. My name’s Chiara, I’m 20, and I’m from Italy, and yes, this last information is particularly crucial. My story is not one of those I-knew-it-from-a-really-young-age ones, nor the classic I-always-knew-I-was-different ones. I’m not any of those. My journey into my gender identity only started last year, at 19.
First things first, one thing I’ve always known (kinda) is that I’m attracted to girls. I declared myself bisexual at the age of 14, but I can perfectly recall moments before that where I acted like a jealous partner to my girl friends. I realized only a few months ago that I probably had a crush on those friends, but I was too little to understand my feelings. And most important, no one ever told me I could like girls, I knew no queer people and I had never seen queer representation on TV. Anyway, at around 14, I started to acknowledge my feelings for girls, and at 16, I decided to tell my parents I was bisexual. Worst decision I ever made. I was almost kicked out of my house and lost all my parents’ love. It took me three years to re-gain their affection, but we never, ever have spoken again about the subject.
So, what happened then? At the end of last year, I started questioning my gender identity. I always asked myself “do I like girls because I’m gay or do I like them like a boy loves them?”, yet I was never able to find an answer, and, frankly, I never gave importance to that question. I have to say I never actually liked my body; I always had weird feelings regarding my chest and my body hair, but on the other hand, pink is my favourite colour, I dress pretty feminine and I love that, I always wear make-up and earrings and my whole appearance is feminine. However, I don’t feel like a woman. Well, I don’t ALWAYS feel like one. Sometimes, I feel like a man; I don’t know how, but I just know I’m a guy in that moment. Most of the times, I feel completely genderless, as I didn’t belong to neither of genders.
Looking back at it, I reckon I’ve felt like that for a very long time, but I’m just starting to recognize what it is: being non-binary, being genderfluid. I tremble as I’m writing down these words. I am so scared of being myself. My family never accepted my sexuality;
, I don’t even want to imagine what could happen if they found out about my gender identity. Up to now, I came out only to a couple of my closest friends, and not even all of them are accepting. In all this mess, there’s a question that I can’t stop asking myself: why did it take me so long to understand I am not cis? No conversation, no representation. The first (and actually only) non-binary person I met is a Twitter friend and they’re helping me so much trying to find my answers. Apart from them, I don’t know anyone who is like me. I didn’t know what the words “non-binary” or “genderfluid” meant until I started doing my researches on the Internet this past summer. I still feel so alone in this new journey.
My point is, I knew a bunch of binary trans people, I saw some binary trans characters on TV shows, though they’re still very few, but I was completely unaware of the whole gender spectrum, of all those genders that aren’t strictly male or female, man or woman. And I blame the lack of representation in the media and in political places; I blame the disinformation, or the non-information; I blame the indifference of both “normal” people and activists when LGBTQ+ topics are talked about; I blame this patriarchal, binary society that needs to put everything and everyone into closed, fixed boxes, that hates you when you don’t fit their stereotypes or the labels they decided for you.
When three months ago I came out to a dear friend of mine, she didn’t even know what non-binary meant, and, after my attempts of explanation, she told me I “didn’t look trans” because I am “too feminine”. However, last week she messaged me saying that my story pushed her to do some research and that she had found so many people like me, people who identified as non-binary though their look wasn’t androgynous, people whose gender expression didn’t match their pronouns. All it took was a 20-minute-long talk. That’s what I’m trying to say: it really takes so little to make people feel seen, to make them feel understood and less lonely. It takes so little to make this world a more welcoming, accepting and better place. If only I had seen a non-binary character on TV during my teen years, if only I had met more (out) genderfluid people, if only society were less discriminatory, I wouldn’t have felt so strange, so different, so anomalous. If only this happened, I wouldn’t feel ashamed for discovering my true self only in my early twenties; I wouldn’t feel so embarrassed of being myself, of changing pronouns according to how I feel, of just telling the world who I am. I wouldn’t be so afraid.
Fear is an emotion I’ve carried my whole life, ever since I can remember. Fear is what made me hide myself, be disgusted by my identity. Yet, fear is my greatest challenge, the one I will keep fighting until I win.
Just a couple of days ago, while scrolling through my old playlists, I came across a song I used to love, “Little Me” by Little Mix, and I wanna conclude this random stream of thoughts with a lyric from this song:
“Wish I knew back then what I know now, wish I could somehow go back in time and maybe listen to my own advice. I’d tell her to speak up, tell her to shout out, talk a bit louder, be a bit prouder”. Be a bit prouder. Talk a bit louder. Always speak your truth. It’s hard for us in this world, I know, but we shall keep on hoping. Hoping for better days, a better time when we could be ourselves, free, without any restriction. This is my final wish for our community: to be loved just as much as we love.
Chiara (she/they/he) is a genderfluid bisexual student who is aggressively passionate about politics and foreign languages – they fluently speak three languages and they’re learning another two – and weirdly obsessed with Shawn Mendes. Their biggest dream is to work for the United Nations to fight for gender equality. You can follow Chiara on Twitter and Instagram (personal | photography).