The Measure Of An Enby

Am I nonbinary? The signs point to the fact that I am.

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

When you’ve met one enby, you’ve met one enby.

I realized that this motto was true even before meeting one enby as an enby on a dating app. I suspect I have met some enbies a long time ago, but I did not know that they were, and they did not tell me that they were. At any rate, when I run into someone who declares that they are nonbinary while dating, I don’t assume. I ask what their pronouns are, and that they being nonbinary means to our relationship. I’ve gotten a variety of answers.

I’m going to explain here how it is for me. Not that I have to do this, but I prefer to explain where I’m coming from, rather than let people assume that they understand where I’m coming from.

Let’s start with a simple, and true, proposition: gender is entirely a social convention, and nothing but a social convention. Not only this, but it is the patriarchal aspect of society which wants to impose a gender binary on everyone. There are only men and women, and they exist only to make babies. Everyone who does not fit into this mold is a freak.

Now, I do accept that the label man is a better approximation of what I really am than the label woman. Still, it is only an approximation of what I am. So what am I? I am me, an entity which is more complex than the labels of man and woman would suggest. Nonbinary is a better label than either man or woman.

I am now making the choice of calling myself nonbinary, just a male-presenting AMAB one. However, I have been nonbinary, if not from birth, then for as far as I can remember. I’ve always had a propensity to ignore the patriarchy. Early on, I did not criticize the gender binary, but I did not care to necessarily follow all of its edicts. For instance, I asked my parents for dolls one Christmas, because I saw no reason why I shouldn’t play with dolls. Now, I did not have dolls wall to wall, but I did get my dolls. I just did not care that boys shouldn’t have dolls.

In addition, throughout my childhood, I would hang out with my aunts and my female cousins more than my uncles. This happened especially on my mother’s side. Why? My uncles and my male cousins were perfect exemplars of the masculine, gruff, competitive man. They talked about fishing, hunting, and sports. These were subjects that never interested me.

I fished a bit with my father when I was a kid, but the activity itself was not thrilling. It was more being with my father and my brother, and going on a trip, that was interesting. I never hunted. I did a bit of sports, but I wasn’t great at sports. The only sport I followed was F1 racing. The women’s discussions were much more interesting for me to listen to. It was all about feelings, and other important topics. I did not care that, according to the patriarchal edict, I should have been socializing with the men.

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In 1996, I met my ex-wife, who is older than I am by 20 years. Society did not look kindly on our relationship. I was supposed to find a woman relatively close to my age, have a family with her, make babies with her, and all that jazz. Oh, I was going to have a family with my ex-wife, but babies? Nah… Society’s disapproval of this relationship came in all sorts of ways. There were suggestions that I was an ax murderer. Or that my wife should “have her fun” but dump me. Or questions about those children that we weren’t going to have. Our relationship lasted 26 years. Our marriage, 22 years. It wasn’t a flash in the pan.

My decision to pursue a relationship with my ex-wife was a big middle finger given to social conventions and the patriarchy. Prior to that time, I had been lusting after older people, but never acted on it. I also knew before I met my wife that I was pansexual. However, I did not know that I was autistic. It would have to live over twice as long to realize this. I moreover did not know either that I’m nonbinary. I’ve finally come to this realization today.

Ultimately, I find that the entire attribution of certain characteristics as masculine and feminine to be entirely arbitrary. The world does not tell us that hunting is a masculine activity, and that painting your nails is a feminine activity. It is the patriarchal aspect of society that decides it so. Why should I follow the patriarchy’s edicts regarding gender, any more than I should follow patriarchy’s edicts regarding anything else?

More importantly, why should I impose on my partners any kind of socially mandated stricture? I want them to simply be themselves, and for myself to do my utmost to care for them. Does it matter if they do something which is not concordant with their sex, or apparent gender? What if a girl wants to replace the brake pads on her car, or a boy wants to wear a pretty dress? It does not matter, one bit.

Here’s a true story. Once upon a time, I had a partner who identified as a bisexual (or pansexual) woman who revoked consent right in the middle of our encounter. She was no longer “feeling it.” I simply stopped what I was doing to her and asked her why she was not feeling it anymore. She couldn’t tell. The first and foremost thing on my mind was her well-being.

Now, do you know what the patriarchy says a man should do in this instance? A man should do whatever he can to get what is his and get the encounter to continue. We had negotiated ahead of time what I’d be doing. She had agreed to it. As a man, I could have told her that she owed me. Or I could have begged that our encounter continue. However, I did none of this. We stopped. We watched a couple of movies. I had no idea how the evening would unfold. I did not follow the script the patriarchy had in mind for me.

I’m fine with being called a man, even if that’s only an approximation of what I am. Someone could call me a woman, but I feel this would be less appropriate than the label man. However, if you want to use a better label to talk about me, nonbinary is much better than either man or woman. My pronoun preference is he/they/she, but I’m really fine with any pronoun, provided that the person using them is not trying to demean me.

People who insist that I cannot be nonbinary would do well to first read the following article. It dispels a lot of the myths about nonbinary folks.

If they still gatekeep, then they should go jump into a lake.

Ultimately, I think I am undefinable, and I am fine with this. At the same time, labels are useful in some contexts, so if man and woman are inadequate approximations, what remains? Nonbinary. Using this label is still an attempt at defining what defies definitions, but it is better than man or woman.

Finally, I think it also explains very well why I bawled my eyes out when I watched the movie Nimona. I used to be baffled at my reaction. Not anymore!



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3 responses to “The Measure Of An Enby”

  1. Morothar ⚨ Avatar

    @yourautisticlife I don’t have good words right now but as an fellow enby:

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