Living outside the binary

In August I wrote a post for Caleigh’s I Have a Voice project about gender – gender identity, gender expression, specifically mine. It’s been interesting since then – nice to have finally gotten it out there, because it had been welling up inside – I think I’ve come to understand myself a bit more and I occasionally write addendums in my head.
Today’s kinda started off on a not good foot(?). I feel sick, I’m sleep deprived and (I think unrelatedly) I feel so tired of feeling like my very existence is both a threat and threatened. Not physically, but because…. I don’t know. Live alternative to the way you grew up, get married, do not have kids, and watch as your friends get married and have kids, and try not feeling the pressure from everyone and the world and your upbringing to conform and join the rest. Try not feeling vulnerable when your existence flies in the face of everything you ever knew and were taught; and while you wouldn’t trade it for the world, sometimes, it just, gets old. Because even this has stigmas attached.
I don’t identify as a woman even though I have female anatomy. I don’t really connect or feel at-one with my body most of the time. It’s a weird state of flux – I often feel as though my body and I are at odds if not all out war, but also, like, I still feel “fat”(thanks hormones!) and sick and hormonal and self conscious and all of those things. I occasionally disassociate, and holding my partner’s hands keep me tethered and grounded (this really doesn’t happen that often, but, it’s happened).
I identify to myself as gender-neutral or genderless, for ease when talking to people, I use genderqueer. I don’t feel like I am a man the same way I don’t feel like I am a woman. I don’t embody the binary roles we try to split people up into at birth. I am me, I am human, I exist, the end.
I frustrate myself though, because gender identity and putting people into categories of binary gender is so ingrained that even though I don’t accept it on a personal and logical level, it’s still a thought pattern that I’m trying to unlearn. I still find myself trying to categorize people – the way it kills me to be categorized – instinctually, which is when I stop myself and step back and say “that is a beautiful person” end of story. Because gender really doesn’t matter – not as a category and certainly not as binary.
Gender is a social construct that we force people into because we can’t accept that people don’t fit outside of our two boxes. Which leaves those of us who exist outside the boxes feeling broken and wrong. We either learn to suppress it and squeeze into the box, or we change and let ourselves live – but it’s lonelier out here, and the people who either embrace or have squeezed into the boxes don’t really understand.
Gender presentation is often mistaken for gender identity, but they are not the same thing. Just like not everyone who wears plaid is a hipster (and not all hipsters wear plaid). I present myself in the way that gives me confidence. I spent far too long hiding my body in baggy clothes and layers, so I present as femme. I accept female pronouns because existing is complicated and I don’t feel like correcting people (not that it’s not a valid thing, because it is, I really want gender neutral or genderless pronouns to become common – I just don’t have the emotional energy do it; I don’t even have the energy to correct people’s pronunciation of my name, which is largely why I go by Kiery now), but, if you use hen you will win all of the things.
The idea of women are this and men are that is soul crushing. The idea that your life and path and interests are chosen for you at birth because of your anatomy is ridiculous.
The culture we breed of women must want babies or something is wrong with them and all men care about is fucking and their own pleasure is archaic. We are human, and we are more than that. We are more than one organ of our body. But try accepting that and living as though your life’s worth does not depend on the use of your reproductive system, and you’re bombarded with social stigmas of something is wrong with that person.
I’m 99% sure that guys deal with this too. Nice, considerate, empathetic guys are ridiculed and shamed for their lives – not being manly enough. Like women not having children are shamed for not being womanly.
However you identify, however you present yourself – your worth is not (well, should not be) in your anatomy.
But that doesn’t make it any easier.
I’m still fighting old thought patterns and habits, I get angry because I’m not where I want to be. When I think I’m making progress accepting myself (and others) something happens and I feel like I lost it.
I don’t know how comfortable I am sporting the genderqueer label, but it’s better than getting angry whenever someone refers to me as a woman (strangely enough, _lady_ doesn’t bother me, but that’s probably because I say it in a sexy voice…laaadeeey and it doesn’t hold the same connotations for me that woman does and as I said before she/her are okay, because I present as femme but hen is best).
Or maybe it’s because I don’t feel queer about it (even though that’s kinda the best term we have atm). I am a person, gender doesn’t apply.

Background in chronological order (AKA previous posts on the subject. It’s like you can watch the evolution and how I’m still dealing with the same things a year later!):
Women are less
A Freeing Realization
Because of What it Means
Coming To Grips With Gender (Profligate Truth)


  1. Warbler Avatar

    A lot of people I know/used to know are getting engaged/married/popping out babies left and right.
    I am still in my first year of college and still not “settled” as you might call it, but I still feel like somehow its a competition and I’m losing and they are winning.

  2. Lana Avatar

    Awesome post. I don’t feel like I’m a man at all. But I’ve never felt like any gender. Just I feel like I’m for some reason existing in a body, and I don’t know why.

  3. Kevin Avatar

    Kiery, thanks for sharing this! If you don’t mind a novice question, how would you like “hen” to be used with regard to you? – e.g. what part of speech? – use it in a sentence? thank you!

    1. Kierstyn King Avatar

      I like it because you can use it similarly to him/her (though it’s obviously not exactly the same): Kiery lives with hen’s partner in Maine; hen has a cat named Tonks.

    2. Headless Unicorn Guy Avatar
      Headless Unicorn Guy

      Is “hen” the latest attempt at a gender-neutral (or genderless) animate personal noun for English?
      If so, attempts at coining one have a poor track record. Ungendered animate personal nouns are all over the sciece fiction lit community — s/he, hir, sahn — and none have ever caught on beyond the small circle of whoever coined it. The closest thing to it in the mainstream is “global replace string ‘man’ with string ‘person’”, which sounds as awkward and wordy as something out of mid-Cold War Sovietspeak or that George Carlin monologue on a similar subject.

      1. Kierstyn King Avatar

        Hen is actually Swedish and in use in a children’s book there – it doesn’t translate to English very well, but all alternate pronouns are ill-fitting into our current language/grammar structure. Hen was the first one I’d heard about and that had been adopted. I later discovered xe/xyr, and…all of the kinds in Wikipedia, but hen worked in my head better.

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