So what are we doing here today?
Answering questions on the the subject of being a nonbinary male.
How many questions?
20, as per the title.
Do these questions up front count?
You bet your ass they do. I’m not sure I can stretch this conceit out to 20 actual questions.
Hadn’t we better get started then? We’re getting through these questions pretty quickly.
Works for me!
So… “nonbinary male”. Paradox much?
Not really. Want me to talk you through it?
Does that count as one of my questions?
No, but that one does.
It’s actually pretty straightforward. I was assigned male at birth – AMAB – and that’s my physical sex. A lot of people assigned male at birth grow up with a masculine gender identity and are perfectly happy with that. That’s what we call cisgender or just “cis”, and similarly the same is often true of people assigned female at birth.
I’m comfortable with presenting… mostly as male. I guess my style is on the androgynous side. I wear some make-up, sometimes, but not to look like a woman. I wear it because I want to and to cover some fairly horrific dark circles under my eyes. I wear some items of women’s clothes, again just because I want to, and in quite androgynous cuts. A couple of sweaters, some jeans, that sort of thing.
Any particular reason?
Yep. Testicles. Women’s knickers seem to have far less material around the taint, and a guy needs something to support his undercarriage. I bought some seamless pants to wear under tight trousers and let’s just say that they didn’t really give me the support I needed. In fact it was like trying to balance my balls on a tightrope. It’s just a practicality.
You said “his”! So you identify as male?
I’m not precious about my pronouns. I answer to he, she, they, it or hey you. Anything except “Kevin”. I’ve known a large number of Kevins in my life and all of them without exception were uncommonly plain.
Thanks for that, Oscar. We understand the “male” part of “nonbinary male” – you’re just talking about your body, not your mind.
Yes, that’s a good way to put it. I have what medical science would loosely term ‘a male body’ – as if a medical marker for maleness really existed – and I’m fine with that nomenclature.
What can you tell us about “nonbinary” then?
I can tell you but you’ll probably think I’m being flippant.
We’ve known you for a while now.
I take your point. So we talked about physical sex – the body I’m in. We also talked about my gender expression – the way I talk, act, dress and do my makeup.
The third component is my gender identity. Think of that as the way that I feel about myself in my mind. It’s one’s gender identity that causes them to think and act the way they do, as opposed to their body or, as Kryten put it, what they have stashed in their slacks. My genitals don’t define the way I think of myself.
So what does make someone think about themselves the way they do?
In my opinion, I think it’s social programming, social imprinting. It’s the mechanism that makes us think that boys should wear blue and play with cars and guns and grow up to be astronauts, whilst girls must wear pink, play with dolls, wear make-up and be subject to wolf whistles and male sexual entitlement.
Are you sure about that?
It’s just my opinion, I don’t know the science or the brain chemistry. But I think of it a bit like a Venn diagram. If it was having a penis that defined “maleness” and drove male behaviour, then the circles marked “male behaviour” and “penis owner” would be one circle exactly on top of the other. All penis owners would act the same way, if owning a penis was what drove behaviour. But as we know, not all men grow up exactly the same (and not all penis owners grow up to be male). Therefore, it must be something other than having a penis that drives male behaviour. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.
Why did you think we’d find that flippant?
It’s not that part that’s flippant, but this. When asked to explain, I find it easiest to compare gender identity to star signs. Some people believe passionately that they’re a Scorpio and factor it into every aspect of their thinking. Some people don’t feel so passionately, but when asked what they are they instinctively say, “Scorpio” and know it without feeling it as it were. Some have no interest in what their star sign is and just ignore it all, whilst some people think astrology is an embarrassing anachronism from a time when people looked to the skies and thought they could perceive the shapes of the gods. They weren’t really shapes though, because they change as soon as your perspective shifts.
And it’s the same with the notion of binary genders; they’re an embarrassing anachronism that disappears as soon as your perspective shifts.
Don’t hold back, say what you really mean. So how do you define “nonbinary” then?
Technically it’s an umbrella term that literally means “not identifying as male or female”. There are lots of subdivisions, because who doesn’t love a good label. “Agender” people consider themselves to have absolutely no gender. “Genderfluid” is for folks who may swing between feeling masculine and feminine (and maybe other things too). You might also feel that you’re on the spectrum between no gender and one of the binary genders, without ever going towards the opposite gender – in which case you might identify as “demiboy” or “demigirl”.
So which is your label?
I only use nonbinary.
It describes me better. Some days I feel totally agender. Some days I feel maybe 80/20 male/agender, sometimes it might be 80/20 male/female, whilst some activities give me a strong female feeling. I guess I could use “genderfluid”, but I feel that “nonbinary” describes all aspects of my personality, not just my gender identity, so I use that.
What do you mean by “all aspects”?
Some days my gender expression is quite masculine (and wearing a smart man’s suit really makes me swing that way) and some days I bum around the house in leggings or a skirt. Some days I’m only attracted to women, some days people that look like women, some days it’s all people, and on many days, probably most, I’m not attracted to anyone. I have strong feelings about social welfare, and being tough on crime. I use nonbinary to identify as being neither male nor female, neither gay nor straight, neither sexual nor asexual, neither socialist nor conservative, and so on.
“… people that look like women”?
See also: “gynephile”. But that’s a topic for another day!
Okay. “Nonbinary” meaning that your whole identity is fluid; “male” strictly referring to your physical sex. Did we get that right?
Perfectly right. But remember; the language around this is new and fluid. The way one person uses nonbinary may not be the same way that I do, and they may not choose to use it alongside a mention of physical sex. Always ask people first how they prefer to be addressed. To do anything less is unspeakably rude and you don’t want to be mistaken for the President of the United States of America now, do you.
Do I have any questions left?
Nope. This was fun though, let’s do this format again some time.
Can’t wait. /s