I AM WHAT I AM NOT
Artemis. I am not a man. There’s a lot of things about my identity I feel hazy on but that has for the last 3 years been constant, and I have wanted to separate myself from manhood since I was at least 12 (at least).
I guess it’s a sorta weird thing to base your identity on, what you’re not rather than what you are. But honestly with the influence of transmisogyny within my life that’s how I best relate to gender. Anything else feels sorta fake. Even calling myself agender feels sort of fake sometimes. “woman-thing”, with a heavy emphasis on “thing”, is probably the closest word to defining myself in terms of what I am? But “I am no man” is the strongest rock that I can tie my identity to.
It sucks to try to work out who you are when you’re a nb (nonbinary) trans person heavily targeted by transmisogyny. It’s such a powerful force within our society, and causes amab (assigned male at birth) trans people to have the gender binary strictly enforced upon us, more so than other trans people. This is a major point of transmisogyny, and is even clearly visible within lgbt spaces. A trans woman or amab trans person who is not in any way a man will be under incredible scrutiny if their presentation is ‘butch’ or ‘tomboyish’. We must be hyper-feminine women or we will be considered men.
On top of that nb identities are often viewed as ‘masculine of center’, because we are seen as an extension of the popular view of androgyny. You’ve seen it before I’m sure, the monolithic image of a skinny and incredibly pale white person, probably with a short undercut, generally wearing some variation of a suit. It’s an incredibly harmful perception, both harming nonbinary figure out who they are if they don’t (or can’t) fit this image and also creating a ‘legitimate nonbinary identity’ for cis people to hold us to.
But I’m not hyper-feminine. I sorta stopped shaving my body hair last fall and since I started feeling confident about my body I’ve wanted to grow out a nice goatee. In fact while I often wear makeup, especially dramatic eyeliner and ‘odd’ colors of lipstick, I also will use mascara to make my laser-damaged chin scruff more visible. I feel most confident with short hair. My ideal style is some weird mix of goth and punk styles. And most importantly my sexuality is the same as my gender, “No Mans”.
I live in opposition to manhood. I will not begrudge any single person because he feels unable to separate himself from the label of “man”, but it is impossible for me to not have disdain for the social construct of manhood. What is a man without the veil of biological essentialism? Within our western patriarchal society, it is very much defined by misogyny and chauvinism.
On a related note, my mother says my name would be Skye if I was afab (assigned female at birth). There is a game coming out soon called “No Man’s Sky”. In an alternate universe, I am “No Mans Skye”.