After a few years of fabulous genderqueer outfits, I decided that in the end, my relationship to gender was mostly about femininity. It’s not that I didn’t identify with being nonbinary, abstractly, but most of my life was with and around women, and I identified a lot with them, with their modes of expression and mutual identification. I think so much of gender is less about what you identify as than who you identify with.

I loved, and still love, what being nonbinary represents. It’s a protest against believing that gender is ever natural, or that our identifications with it are ever settled. It invites life outside cishet categories. And yet I never did find much of a nonbinary lifeworld. As a nonbinary person, there was only one of me most places I went. It felt unstable to have my gender be a state of permanent exception. Also, it was exhausting and I was always so tired.

Meanwhile, it became surprisingly nice to participate, in a bunch of ways, in everyday femininity. There was a world out there for that. And when people started calling me “she” because of my appearance, it didn’t feel like the least wrong option. It felt nice. I liked thinking about femininity and parenting and our emotional existence in the largely feminine online spaces that I found. (For me, femininity was always an extraordinary social space compared to masculinity, which was mostly emotionally dead.)

I began to wonder if “nonbinary woman” might be a good way to see myself. I have never thought that femininity is just one thing — race matters, class matters, socialization matters, social locations matter, identification isn’t essence, and women’s spaces are sites of struggle. But even if it’s awkward and always a work in progress, femininity is a space I like being in, somehow. In spite of it all. I changed all my pronouns and things. I would change my driver’s license if it were legal in Georgia. I finally found an unambivalent part of myself, after all.

(I reread this passage. I’m tempted to delete it, because it’s unambivalent. I don’t delete it.)

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