By Katy Garnham
Agender: Gender neutral, without gender, genderless.
Being agender is a struggle at times, as many people are not aware that agender people exist. I came out when I was very little - around 6 or 7 - though I wasn’t aware of it at the time. The conversation went something like this;
“Dad, why do I have to be a girl?”
“You don’t, do you want to be a boy?”
“No, I just want to be a Katy.”
It was just left there, as a cute quip. “Out of the mouths of babes” as my mum always said, but as I grew, went through puberty and experienced the first introductions to “womanhood” I felt awful, and depressed. At school I tried really hard to fit in with the girls, wearing make-up, dressing in skirts, talking about ‘girl’ things (though even to this day I have no idea what that means). Boyfriends kept me a secret because I was ‘butch’ so it affected the way they were perceived. I had to feign this femininity in order to be liked and comfortable rather than outcast. After a couple of years and a couple of brutally honest friends, I was informed I’m not girly, which wasn’t news to me. So instead, I tried to fit in with the boys and rough and tumble with the best of them. I bought boys’ shoes, I wore boys’ school trousers, I played rugby with the lads and though I enjoyed all of it, I didn’t like being labelled a ‘tomboy’. Prom was the breaking point. I felt a cloud of dysphoria accumulating around the dress, the hair, the way I was expected to act. After having my hair done, my make-up done, wearing nails, a gown, shoes, purse and jewellery, I felt sick. I sat in my dad’s BMW on the way to prom feeling a sense of dread. The car crawled up the drive behind other fancy cars, a horse and carriage, tractors (we lived in a horticultural county) and I looked at my Dad with sad eyes. Without a word, he handed me his sunglasses to cover my tears and turned up the rock music louder than we’d ever played it before. Stepping out of the car, I felt in control. I now had control of the way people were perceiving me. I’m not girly, or boyish, I’m Katy, and this is what Katy does.
Around the same time, my younger brother was transitioning socially, so our discussion around gender is what kept both of us going. Validating each other. I officially came out to my dad on holiday, after some soul searching in August of 2014. I stopped shaving, I stopped wearing make-up, and I dress now in what I am comfortable in, rather than what I am expected to wear. I came out to the rest of my immediate family, and now rather than my parent’s daughter, I am their child. ‘Sister’ was replaced with ‘sibling’, she/her pronouns are no more – I am exclusively they/them. There are difficult days where I feel alienated, but my friends and my family keep me grounded and remind me: I am valid. It’s okay that I don’t experience gender. It’s okay that I’m under the radar in society because I know who I am. I’m genderless. Stop pushing your ‘female’ expectations on me.
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