Being Genderqueer

I was a pretty ordinary cis girl up until the age of about 14.

Lots of things changed around then. I hit puberty. I found metal. I stopped dressing the way my mother wanted me to and started wearing baggy skater jeans, chains and hooded tops. I wrote dreadful poetry. And I had this feeling – this creeping sensation, right at the back of my head – that I wasn’t sure the word “girl” applied to me.

At university, I started having words with myself. Most of those words were about my sexuality – at 19, I finally acknowledged that I was attracted to female-bodied people as well as male-bodied ones, and started to work towards being less scared of it – but there was an increasing awareness of something askew with my gender identity. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, aside from this nagging feeling. I don’t feel like a woman.

To an extent, it was what most people call tomboyishness. I hate wearing skirts. I tend to be blunt. I like contact sports. I swear a lot. I prefer action films to rom-coms and beer to cocktails. None of this would make me any less of a woman, of course. It’s just social convention that people with vaginas aren’t meant to like these things, when plenty of them actually do. More than that, there was this feeling that something fundamental about the way I function is Not Woman.

This all sounds incredibly nebulous. My gender identity is nebulous. Asking someone what being genderqueer means is kind of like asking what it feels like to be in love: no two people will give you the same answer, and it’s extraordinarily difficult to explain to someone who’s never felt it themselves.

At 22, I was first introduced to the concept of gender variance. Even then, I couldn’t have explained to you what precisely it was that made me feel like I was gender variant. I still can’t. I can’t give any response that’s more specific than “I just am”. I came out to my boyfriend of the time, who told me I couldn’t be genderqueer because I was clearly female

To other people, I guess I am clearly female. I have well-defined breasts and hips, long hair, a feminine face, a high voice. And those who get to that stage of intimacy will hardly fail to notice that I have a vagina. I’m not planning to have surgery. Even if I identified as a trans man (which is up for debate), I couldn’t transition if I wanted to carry on singing. I like my hair the way it is. I quite like my breasts, some of the time. Mostly, I wish I could shed my gender periodically, the way snakes shed their skin, and grow a different one that suited me better for the season.