Hi my name is Ash. My pronouns are they/them. I am 21 years old and I identify as non-binary (nb) transmasculine (transmasc). You might be asking yourself what all these terms mean. If you aren’t, congrats you already know a little bit more than some readers might. If you don’t and are a little confused, let me help you. Non-binary refers to any person that identifies their gender outside of the gender binary (female and male). This can mean they don’t identify with any gender, they identify with more than just those two genders, or a mix, meaning their gender fluctuates. I fall somewhere between fluctuating gender and a gender beyond the binary. My gender doesn’t usually change but I can’t really pin point it or give it a name. Transmasculine refers to my presentation. It means that I was born female (or assigned female at birth, aka AFAB) but strongly identify with masculinity.
I came out in 2016 as gay, right after the election, and thought that was it. It was hard enough starting to embrace my gay identity late in high school, starting to date, and then graduating all within the same year. You can ask my family and friends, I became a much happier version of myself that I never thought was possible. My coming out story isn’t glamorous or sappy or difficult. It was pretty easy to be fair, compared to what others go through. I sat my mom down and I told her. Done. Yes there was crying and hugging but she didn’t really skip a beat, and she never said anything negative. I waited about a week or so to tell my dad because I was more uncertain as to what his reaction would be. The time came to tell him and when I saw a chance, I took it. Now I’ll be honest. I’m not the best when it comes to sitting down with someone, one on one, and saying something that I’ve been dreading. There was probably 5 solid minutes of just silence, with some tv commercials on in the background. I finally said “I’m gay” and this man looked at me and just held his arms apart and said “come here.” We hugged for what felt like half an hour but I bet it was 5 minutes or so.
The rest of my family was a total breeze. I remember my one cousin said to me “it’s about time, we were wondering when you’d tell us” I laughed so hard. It honestly didn’t feel real. It was too easy, it wasn’t anything like I thought it’d be. I grew up seeing YouTube videos of kids coming out and parents kicking them out or hearing stories similar. I had grown up with the notion that it was not acceptable or looked at as wrong. It was never explicitly said but it was tiptoed around over and over again. I can remember being in middle school or high school when Caitlyn Jenner came out and transitioned. It was such an emotional thing to witness, especially with her being in the spotlight. I remember all the transphobic comments and laughter. I remember sitting in my family room on the couch, my dad was scrolling through the channels. He stopped on a news network covering the story, maybe an interview, and I remember clear as day him saying “what a freak.” That moment still lingers in my head.
Parents mean no harm with comments like that but to young impressionable kids, especially when you think you’re gay or bi or trans etc, they can start to form doubts about whether or not they’ll be accepted.
Flash forward to this spring. I got furloughed in mid March and was laid off for about 5 weeks. In those 5 weeks I really didn’t do anything or see anyone or go anywhere. I was totally down and out. This is when my gender identity crisis happened. It slowly hit me that I wasn’t happy at all with female pronouns (which wasn’t even a huge shock to be honest) and I wanted to make a change, but I didn’t know how. In those first three weeks, I spent the entire day by myself, whether I was at my place or at my workshop. That’s a lot of time to spend with yourself. Most of that time was spent looking at Reddit posts and trying to find something that felt like me.
(Quick little side note I should let you know that I had previously worked at a hardware store for 4 years, half of which I was constantly being referred to as a guy. I always used to tell myself that I just didn’t care and then was so surprised when I had a gender identity crisis)
Anyway I spent so much time researching pronouns and gender and I finally came up with a bubble that I seemed to fit right into. It was a really awkward thing to start actively changing in my daily life. I had spent 21 years internally calling myself female in my head by default that rewriting everything seemed impossible and so so tedious. It took some time (and honestly I’m still working on it) but I got to a place where I am very secure and comfortable in my own skin. Are there days I wish I could just be cisgender (cis) and female? Hell yeah but I wouldn’t trade this me for the whole world.
Flash forward to this summer. 2020 had already kicked some major ass and I was feeling pretty strongly towards coming out. I had already been using my current pronouns with my girlfriend, just at home between the two of us, for a couple months at this point and I decided that it was time for me to say something. I slowly came out to a couple people close to me. It was very difficult. It was weird. Okay it was really weird. I had seen other people, only online though, use other pronouns and I was really excited when I heard Kate use them for me, but telling people I had know for years was a different story. I told my sisters first. My oldest sister lives in Tennessee so it had to be a video chat but it went without a hitch. I don't think it could have gone better than it did. It was one of, if not the first, times someone asked me what my pronouns were. I felt so seen and loved it was insane. Next I told one of my childhood friends in person but I couldn’t find the words so I just texted her (yes right next to her I’m really shy sometimes). She was so amazing and kind, like she has always been, and I’m really grateful that I have her in my life.
After that, it became a little easier, don’t get me wrong it was still hard but a little less daunting. Next up was another childhood friend. This one went a little smoother and I actually said it out loud! I was so proud of myself for saying it and I knew then that I had to start preparing myself for my parents. I found a post that seemed perfect for what I wanted to say so i copied it and put it in my notes for safe keeping. I started dropping subtle (obviously not so subtle) hints that gave me a slight idea as to what my parents thought about the whole “life outside the binary” thing and from what I was hearing it seemed like it was going to add up to another successful and mostly stress free coming out story. Boy was I wrong.
I’m not going to talk about it here on my blog but something happened one night and I got pretty drunk. I was really upset and wasn’t in the right mind frame and somewhere along the way I decided that this would be the perfect time for me to come out to my parents. Over text. Drunk. Alone. Where no one could reach me. Honestly I really don’t even remember doing it. My family has a group chat and, remember that post that I copied and pasted? Well that got copied and pasted into my text box and got sent. The worst part? My being drunk? No. Texting it and not saying it face to face? No. The worst part was that I hadn’t proof read the post and it was filed with names of someone’s friends and all this other stuff that didn’t apply to me. They had a different chosen name too, which only made matters worse. It was so horrible and incredibly embarrassing. I had it all planned out too. I was going to sit them down and talk to them, like I had before. It was going to go well and everything would be okay. Instead I decided to drunk text them at 9 pm and totally screw everything up. I didn’t talk to them for almost 2 weeks. Even after that it took almost a month and a half for me to be able to fully look them in the eyes. It’s now been almost 5 months and I still feel weird around them most of the time.
So here I am, roughly 10 months into my journey and I am still, obviously, figuring things out. That’s okay. No matter where you are in your personal journey, it is perfectly normal and fine to still be working out the kinks. That’s what life is for. Finding what doesn’t work and finding what does. I’m inviting you to come along my journey with me. It might get hard or silly or inappropriate at times, but I hope you’ll come along for the ride.