I’m writing this today, not as a woman, but as a person. A human being. I’m writing today as myself. That’s important to me. I’ve thought a lot about this topic over the last year or so, a lot. It has consumed some nights. Trying to understand in case I did feel like discussing it one day I wanted to get it right. Often I worry about getting it right based on what I think other people want to see. In this case, I don’t think that matters. My perspective matters. I have so much to say and I struggle really hard to stay on topic when I start writing. I don’t write often, not as much as I would like, but when I do it just starts to pour out of me and like if I don’t get it out now, I’m going to lose it forever. Which isn’t far from the truth. Certain things come back around, but many are lost within my head.
What am I talking about then? Being nonbinary. Why? Well, even though I didn’t know it at the time, I was always nonbinary from the first moment I questioned “Why do I have to be a girl?! Its not right!” Oh lord, how I did not want to be a girl. I didn’t want to be a boy either. I wanted to be Laura or whoever I was. I wanted to just be a person. Sure some days I played up my female assets, that’s what I was expected to do because I was supposed to be female. But I’m not. Its an outward wrapping over a mind and soul that is very much just me and doesn’t feel comfortable being labeled as female or male. It feels incredibly wrong.
Why am I talking about this here? Menstruation, PMDD, pregnancy, post partum psychosis, all of it worsened a dysphoria I have suffered with from a very young age and never had any name or label to call it. In my disorganized world, I like labels. Labels make me comfortable, so when something is felt but has no label, well its scary. This dysphoria was gender dysphoria. Sure I had pretty dress and shoes, long hair, and read and did girly things. I also played with grasshoppers, wandered around in the woods, wanted to fight mythical creatures with swords, I wanted to save the damsels and the animals. I wanted to be the hero. But girls weren’t really heroes. Not even in the 80s and 90s really. I loved wearing my jeans and tshirts. I loved cars and dinosaurs. I enjoyed “boy” stuff which is kinda acceptable. You know what I didn’t like? I didn’t like baby dolls or barbies. I thought they were just absurd and pointless, no imagination, no creativity. They were only useful as riders of all my various horses. I did love horses. I also remember feeling very often how unfair it was that I be born a girl, it wasn’t that I had wanted to be born a boy, but just the unfairness of it all. I didn’t want that life. And I felt very uncomfortable being pushed into a role that I didn’t choose, I didn’t want, nor one that I could any where close as well as those who apparently understand it and enjoy it. In elementary I was consistently told I was dyke, lesbian, and all other kinds of unkind names. I didn’t understand it. I knew it was negative to them and the part that I didn’t like was that they were rejecting me some how. But the words themselves were lost on me. Thanks to my naivete. Yes, I was different. I was something to be scared of and I didn’t understand why.
Then came puberty and the slavery to hormones and womanly things began. Now I had to be a proper young lady now that I was bleeding out of my uterus each month and could produce babies! I grew out my hair, I dressed for my new body, learned makeup and hair dye. You could say I went provocative all the way. Well, if I had to have this body, wasn’t that what it was supposed to be for? Sex? Attracting men? Isn’t that what I was supposed to be good at? Oh how I wish I could go back and just hug myself and tell me how wrong I was.
I hated menstruation. I hated my periods. I felt dirty. I felt wrong. I had no control over it and that made me feel even worse. And now I had to be responsible for so much more. Taking care that I had pads or tampons, making sure that I didn’t bleed over my clothing, washing underwear because it was stained, or the sheets, the spots on the mattress. It was horrifying to me. I know many feminist aren’t going to like this part. I’m supposed to like bleeding every month, be in touch with the nature of my body. For me, that’s bullshit. I hated every moment of it. Remember my birth control pills. Buying pads that itched and were bulky. The cramps. The fatigue. The crippling migraines. Cleaning blood off my hands, legs, vulva. I cringed every time. I hated it. The fact that I could have babies. Eww. I felt more alien in my body.
And there are those who tell me I’m supposed to love that part of me. No. I can’t do that. Not even now.
Dysphoria, meet dysphoria. My mental health took a huge hit with menstruation. PMDD is brutal all on its own. Add to that many unknown diagnoses and you have a maelstrom of self loathing, hatred, shame, and confusion. My headspace was never good most days, but the cyclical PMDD crushed me. My period started when I was 14 and half years old. Is it a coincidence that by the time I turned 16 I was dropping out of high school? I think not. Is it a coincidence that I got married before I was 19? I think not. That’s what girls do right? Get married? No offense to my husband, we are still married at 16 years and I do love him still! But it was a role I was playing. Is it coincidence that until my PCOS made it so my periods would skip for months at a time that I couldn’t keep a job? I think not.
Nearly 3 years ago when I had my surgery, part of the relief was not just that I no longer had PMDD. But that the very things that so many people consider critical in being female were no long a part of me. I could cry with joy at the thought that I no longer have a uterus! I can no longer have children. Many women cry because they think this means they are no longer a woman. For me? That is what I have wanted for so long. And I feel shame for that. I feel shame for being glad that I am rid of that which so many women would love to have again. But I’m not a woman. I’m not. I don’t expect you to understand. I felt enslaved. I felt forced. I felt violated. Just by having a uterus and ovaries and all the rest that came with it.
Now, I feel free. I’m not a woman. I’m me. A person. Free of PMDD. Free of servitude to dysphoria upon dysphoria. I have so much work still ahead of me. So many more holes to claw my way out of. This though, this is freedom to be able to do just that.