Non-binary

2020. A global pandemic. Time alone. I'm 16 and trapped in my own home like a rat in a cage. My only company are two adults I have nothing in common with, two slobbering dogs who only love me for the food I give them each night, and a violent mixture of thoughts and internet access. At the time I already knew I wasn't exactly who everyone told me I was. I wasn't the only student who cared enough about my grades, but I was the only one who didn't, I just happened to be able to pay attention in class. I wasn't the kind of person who would never harm a fly, but I was so close to the edge of insanity that I knew I wouldn't feel anything if I hurt someone, only refusing to give into the urge for violence due to the understanding of consequence. I wasn't a girl. I wasn't a girl, but I didn't feel like a boy either. At the time I didn't understand that there were more options than just girl or boy, so not feeling enough like a boy to call myself one, I decided to keep the label of girl I hated that everyone decided to slap onto my back. Then... I was alone... alone with dogs who could not talk and parents who I'd rather not talk to at all... and a violent mix of my own thoughts and the internet. The internet is a large place, and one day I stumbled upon an idea within this vast landscape called the internet. That idea was about the illusion of gender. That idea was the thought of the non-binary gender identity. To not identify as either male or female. For the first time in my life, I looked at a definition of a gender and was able to say, “oh... that's me.” I have never felt so comfortable in my own skin before. In fact I feel like a skeleton, for skin is the most neurologically sensitive organ in the human body, the part of the body that feels the most pain, so to feel so comfortable means I must not have any skin at all. However... people are always going to be afraid of skeletons. Hearing the words “that's me.” echo through my brain not only filled me with comfort and euphoria, but also with an undeniably disgusting and distinguished fear. “People are going to try to kill me now.” Is a good way of wording that fear. This thought that people want me dead now constantly eats my mind. I'm a kid. I shouldn't be afraid of dying simply because I prefer one word to another when people address me. I shouldn't be, and yet here I am. I'm afraid of children just like me, children from my very same school. I'm afraid of them because they throw around queer slurs like nothing is wrong, and equate queerness to weakness. That is the same thing as a white man saying a racial slur. I know they are only children like me, but if they think that behavior is okay then so do their parents, and if their parents think it's okay then they will give their children the tools to harm people like me. I'm afraid of children. It's as though I traded my safety for the idea of comfortability, like I sold a 24k gold watch for a dime. It's strange how much I value this dime though, a dime of comfortability. I guess if you've been running your whole life and suddenly realized you can walk instead, you would be more content walking away from danger instead of sprinting. I do say though that I'm happy with that exchange though. I'm not happy because it's a good exchange, I would have loved to never know I existed, ignorance is bliss after all. The reason I'm happy though is because there is a much worse exchange that could have happened. A worse exchange? Well of course, I was practically alone when I didn't want to speak to my parentals and couldn't speak the languages of dogs. I was alone, with nothing by a violent mixture of my thoughts and the internet. I was sad. I was depressed. I was alone with a violent mixture of thoughts and internet. So I am happy that this was the horrible exchange I was given during a global pandemic. I truly am. I am non-binary.

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Jane Doe

Aspiring writer, budding linguist.

Cape Town, South Africa