My heart sometimes falls when I hear the word “transition”. Often because, to many people, it represents a medical transition, with a clear end point. It’s almost as much of an oversimplification as condensing the whole of trans experience into one magical “op”.
I am nonbinary, and have chosen not to transition medically. Just writing that, I feel an overwhelming need to explain myself, to prove myself trans enough to be part of this community.
Yes, I experience dysphoria. No, I don’t have an underlying condition that makes medical transition impossible. No, I absolutely do not represent other nonbinary people in feeling this way; in fact I know of at least one binary trans person who has chosen not to have any medical intervention. For me, it is nothing more than an utterly personal decision, based on the circumstances of my life as I see it.
Two years ago, I sought referral to the GIC. I was referred to a mental health professional for screening, after which I was told it would be straightforward enough to send me on. Two days before my screening, my father attempted suicide. In tears, I explained the situation to the receptionist, who booked me another appointment for three months later. Not having my own car, I asked my then partner to give me a lift. He explained that he did not feel that then was the right time. I realise now that he meant for him, not for me.
In short, my brief attempt to take the standard route did not work out. Looking back, I’m still not sure how I feel about this. My life was taken out of my hands by two people who claimed to love me, and yet acted, for whatever reason, with utter selfishness. Yet I have little desire to try again.
There is no “passing” or “living stealth” as nonbinary
Why not? It makes my life harder than it needs to be. I devote time and money to disguising my decidedly binary body. Even amongst trans people, I live in a permanent state of prepubescence. New acquaintances offer up words of wisdom: “Once you start to transition…”
I started my transition four years ago. I’m not exactly an old hand, but I’ve at least got to the point where misgendering confuses, rather than upsets me. So being tucked under someone’s admittedly well-meaning wing tends to grate.
So why stay as I am? Simply put, because changing my body will not change the way people see me.
My transition has no endgame. I live for those rare, beautiful moments where someone recognises that I am outside the binary.
“Can I see your ticket, young man?” asked a train conductor recently, before correcting himself, “Sorry, young… whatever.”
“Young whatever’s about right,” I smiled, and he reciprocated as he clipped my ticket.
The absurdity of that little exchange is not lost on me. For almost anyone else, that would be a terrible moment, and yet it absolutely made my day. Because it’s sickeningly rare.
There is no “passing” or “living stealth” as nonbinary. Most people have an overwhelming need to fit complete strangers into neat little pink and blue boxes. Yet, how can I blame them? Everything about the society we live in is so rigidly binary. Forget passports, nonbinary folk can’t even get a Tesco Clubcard! And don’t get me started on Kinder eggs.
Shaving my ridiculous peach fuzz every week is a five minute job. Binding is sweaty and stifling, but very rarely painful. Trying to work out which bathroom I can use in safety? That is my day to day.
The one time I tried to come out to a potential employer, she asked me to stand up and turn around so that she could better see the fit of my binder. She said that she’d have to speak to her business partner about whether or not they could employ me; I never heard from her again.
So for now my focus is on being visible. I’ve had my little victories- I asked National Rail to give the option of a gender neutral title on railcards, and they did. I can’t say for sure that I’ll never try my hand again at the GIC, though their poor track record with nonbinary patients is astonishing. I just know for me, right now, it’s not important.
So, just think the next time you use the word “transition”, and see if it’s really what you mean.