Beyond the Binary- Haley’s Ongoing Gender Journey

People always say life is complicated, yet often they don’t say the same for gender and sexuality. Too often it is “male” or “female,” and “gay” or “straight,” but what about those who don’t fit in those boxes?  More to the point, how do these folks feel mental health wise when they are consistently forced to pick one of the two boxes?
A group of students sitting around a large table in celebration of asexuality awareness week. They are all smiling towards the camera.
One type of sexuality that is often ignored is asexuality or rather people with little or no sexual attraction and/or desire. This is asexuality awareness week, so Woodsworth Inclusive and Rainbow Trinity decided to host the first ace event in U of T history!
A table with pop, chips, a cake, and some tim hortons donuts.
So healthy.
A fruit tray on a table, with cantaloupe, pineapple, watermelon, melon, and strawberries. It looks like it hasn't been touched.
But we had a fruit tray!
Although I can’t speak for the many gender expressions, gender identities, and sexualities that do not fall under the gender and sexuality binaries, I can speak to my ongoing gender journey. Perhaps it will be useful to folks who are feeling the same way but are not ready to talk to other people about it (which by the way, is totally okay). Over the past year, I realized that I was not comfortable expressing myself in a completely feminine way. I never really wore make-up and rarely did I do my hair (ponytail life-style), but during the summer, I took the next step: I chopped off my hair. Soon, I confined to my good friend about my gender expression and identity. I said to them, “I don’t really see myself as a man or a woman.” My friend, who is non-binary themself,  hugged me and said they will support me no matter what. Thus I began my gender journey. I started buying clothes in the men’s section (which by the way, is quite nerve-wracking), and I began to really open up to my close friends about my gender expression. Still, I have kept this journey quite private as I am worried how my peers and family would react. Then, I went to the on-campus Centre for Women and Trans People. It is a drop-in centre that hosts all kinds of activities and events. More importantly, it is a place that is safe and free of judgment.  Although I was nervous to go, I immediately was greeted with open arms and some tea! It was probably one of the best decisions I have made. I realized that being honest with myself doesn’t mean I have to open up to people about it immediately. In other words, to do what is right is to do what I am comfortable with.
A picture of the trans centre, with its coach, fridge, microwave, and stove.
So snazzy- and look they even have a kitchen!
A cup of green tea with trans* related posters around it.
Tea that one of the lovely folks from centre made me- afterwards we talked about gender expression and the fluidity of gender in time and space. It was really nice and helped with my self-healing.
Some posters featuring the diversity of gender (agender, gender neutral, cisgendered, genderqueer, non-binary), and a poster explaining the difference between sex, gender, and sexuality.
Some rad posters.
Me at Trinity College's Quad. I am wearing masculine-tailored pant, a baggy floral shirt, with short hair and some running shoes.
While I like wearing a sports bra, masculine-tailored pants, and baggy shirts, I also like floral prints and lots of colours- both of which are considered “feminine.”
“So Haley, do you identify as a transman?” No, dear reader. Although I do not see myself as a transman, I really don’t know what or how to characterize my gender expression. At the end of the day, those labels don’t matter to me. Where I am right now on my gender journey, which often people would mischaracterize as just being in “transition,” is where I want to be at this moment. And that, my dear readers, is all that matters. Here is the phone number for the Centre for Women and Trans People(416) 978-8201. Lots of love, Haley

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