I don't feel like a man. I don't want to be treated like one.
I have been wanting to write this blog post for awhile. Am I "coming out of the closet"? Perhaps. Maybe someday. First I have to figure out the make and model of this closet I find myself in.
The truth is that I am not coming out as anything in particular. It's too early for me to make a judgment. Instead, I am going to express the few things that I do know about my gender — and how that might affect how I want to be treated.
I have never felt like I fit in with men. I always thought it was social anxiety or just having atypical (nerdy) interests (computers instead of cars, books instead of sports, etc.). However, I started to notice that it's more than just interests or anxiety. It's rooted in gender. I don't feel like a man.
Once I started to notice that I don't feel like a man, I also started to notice how much I actually wanted to be included in groups of women. I wanted to be accepted. As an example, I have vivid memories of the euphoria that came with my girlfriend inviting me to hang out with her girl group while they were getting ready for art prom, almost 5 years ago.
I also have distinct memories of ending up included in groups of men, where I feel myself become much less comfortable, and less social. I remember on a trip to Seattle being invited to a small gathering at someone's house, comprising mostly men not much older than me, just playing video games. Despite video games being my thing, I can remember how uncomfortable I was and how much effort it took trying not to be awkward. This was also about 5 years ago, and I still remember it.
In these situations, I often find myself wishing that I could just be perceived as a woman. Around women, it's because I want to fit in. I don't want to be perceived as a threat. Around men, it's because I don't want to immediately fit in. I don't want their assumptions placed on me. I know that this still wouldn't solve all my problems, but I am betting that it would make social interaction easier. I'm betting that it would feel better.
The issue, of course, is that I have never been a woman either. I was raised in the midwest, in a small town, as a boy. I never seriously entertained the possibility that this label did not fit me until like a year or two ago, when I was 25. That's a long time as a boy. It's a lot to unlearn.
As a boy, my dad taught me how to 'be a man'. As a boy, my family taught me how to 'treat a lady'. As a boy, the internet taught me the role of men in society. I don't agree with the majority of what I learned anymore, and it sure is a lot to unpack and unlearn.
But I did the unpacking, and I feel like I have finally gotten to a point where I don't feel any connection to manhood anymore. Which is why I feel ready to write about it and hopefully be more public about it. Because it would help — to not be treated like a man.
I wouldn't be satisfied with this post if I only talked about what I didn't want, so I will try to add how I do want to be treated. For now? As a non-binary person. Neither man nor woman. Genderfluid. As far as pronouns go, I think I would prefer they/them but I don't plan on correcting anybody. The way I see it now, using they/them would simply be a gift to me.
There is so much more I could say here about masculinity and all the ways in which I have had to detach from it — but I think this post is long enough. If you have made it this far: thank you.
To my friends reading this: You all are great, and I sincerely appreciate that I am able to feel comfortable around you.
To my family reading this: I have no one thing to say, because I expect each of you will feel differently. If you want, we can pretend you never read it.
To any stranger reading this: Hi! Wanna be friends?
Please remember, kindness is free.