Twenty-three years ago I entered the world as a writhing mass of constraints and potentials, able to achieve all I wanted, except that mountain of possibilities that had already been determined against me.
Birthdays are traditionally celebrated with a lifting of the social norms that make demands uncouth. Everyday practice is to accept your lot and work with it, but during the annual celebration fantasies can be made actual and desires may be followed. For one day we all pretend that those celebrating their births are the stars they were originally promised to be, able to make a choice about the course their life takes.
So here is a demand of myself and of you. If you could hold it in mind even for this one day that would be beautiful.
Having always felt in conflict with the category ‘man’ I want to intensify that conflict and begin a break with it. I really need not enumerate the number of ways that I have never been accepted as, or accepted myself as a man. Needless to say this is something I have had in mind for a very long time and I am grateful that age, whilst it doesn’t bring greater clarity, has brought along tools for dealing with this.
My gender is non-binary, as in I am not a man and I don’t think I am a woman. To that end I would prefer people use they/their/them to refer to me. You might slip up and I think that is okay, so don’t worry too much about this point. For me the pronoun is not the most important part.
What does this mean? That I’m coming out to you all about this because it is something I have given a lot of thought to. My intention is to state more clearly part of my own truth so that it can better align with my various relationships in the world.
As someone read frequently as a man I have various responsibilities, and this is not an attempt to distance myself from that. In fact, I think under patriarchy men themselves have a responsibility to dismantle their gender and whilst that dismantling may not look like my current process, it does mean an end to loyalty with manhood.
Most days there is no choice. I have certain privileges. I will continue to be favoured in society because of how my gender is constructed. Yet I also have no control over how the law constructs my gender, whether that is being seen as a black man in the eyes of police officers or being disallowed the right to scrub the ‘M’ off my passport.
But it is my birthday, so for today I am no longer a boy.