Hi there! My name is Elliott, and I’m an introverted 18-year-old. I enjoy the simple things in life, like reading, going outside right after it rains, and living as my authentic self. To live as my authentic self, I don’t check either box: boy or girl. I am gender nonconforming.
Oddly enough, the first roadblock I came across was myself. I always felt like I didn’t fit in either category of “boy” or “girl”, but I told myself I had to. I presented myself as feminine as possible, and I did the “girliest” of things. I felt like I was living in a turtle’s shell when I was a snail. I had a friend bring it to my attention that I didn’t have to be only a “boy” or “girl”. They told me I could be nonbinary. Slowly, but surely I let myself become what I was meant to be. Doing the simplest thing, like making it look like I had short hair, made me feel like light cumulus clouds. I was free of the stereotype and traditional beliefs of what I had to be.
This was only the first battle. Next, I had to come out to my parents.
Unfortunately, it is very uncommon for someone to not only change their entire style but to present as “the opposite gender” or somewhere in between. I knew I couldn’t just start wearing or buying “men’s clothing” without my parents noticing. I was so scared. I grew up going to church every Sunday and Wednesday (youth group) and knew they were conservative.
I told my mom at first. The simplest way I thought she could handle it was, “Sometimes, I will want to wear guys clothing and look a little more masculine.”
After that, the conversation started, and she was totally understanding. She was so understanding that she actually told my dad like it wasn’t a big deal. I wish I could have told him myself, but I’m at least glad he knows.
To this day, I still face harassment for what I dress like and how I present myself. I get stared down like they can see through my clothes to decide which box to put me in. I have been physically shoved before. simply because of my presentation.
All I have ever done to this people is look differently. That shouldn’t be their problem.
In the end, I want to let all of you know a few things.
For the kids with conservative, Christian parents: First and foremost, always be safe. You are trans or nonbinary, no matter how you present or what others tell you. However, I’m here to let you know that it may not be as scary as you think. Your parents’ job at the end of the day is to love you.
To the Christian, conservative parents: I promise you, this is not the end of the world. Look up research, support groups, and other people’s stories. You still have an amazing kid who wants you to love and support them.
To the strangers who think I’m extra strange: Don’t be afraid. I know things are different, and I know things are changing. It is okay to be curious and to have snap judgments that society has bred you to have. Just remember that I am a person too. I go home and complain about that awful customer at work. I have cats who greet me at the door, and a husband who kisses me on the forehead goodnight.
Now is the time to make these changes. It is time to stop trying to put everything in perfect boxes. Let’s create an impact by making a space for discussions like this to be held. Have the curiosity of a child, asking questions only to learn. Remember that this world really is small, and it’s full of things with life, emotion, and love. It is time to stop creating gender-specific clothing. No print is too feminine or masculine. It is time for all legislators to create the laws that say, “I am human”, because I am. Drivers licenses and legal certificates need to change to include the options for people like me because we do exist. I hope all of you will join me to create a world of acceptance and love, but we will still be here even if you don’t.