My partner has just begun having their facial hair permanently removed, the beginning of what some would call their transition. Neither I, nor my partner to my knowledge, have ever used this word to describe the series of gender confirming body modifications they intend to get. “Transition” is just another word that’s not for us (non-binary trans* people). I too, like Princex Achilles of A Genderqueer Menace, feel like the linear implication of the word, moving from one point to another, is an inaccurate way to describe these processes for non-binary and genderqueer people. But that’s okay with me, I’ve gotten quite adept at going without words.
When I first came into this I was obsessed with finding the right word for me. And by “came into this” I mean “was introduced to queer theory and post-modern gender theory” and by “right word for me” I mean “label”. I thought that having a label would let me know what I was. Much like “man” and “woman” were supposed to do. Was I neutrois? Agender? Third gender? An androgyne? If I could just figure it out then all of the feelings of incongruity would melt away, right?
Well, its been a while since then and I still don’t use words that are any more precise or descriptive than “non-binary” or “genderqueer”, and I’m long past caring. I have lived so long outside of genders that fit neatly into boxes and labels, I have lived so long without even the language to articulate myself that I’ve just kind of gotten used to it. There are no words for us.
Non-binary and genderqueer people aren’t given the words to describe ourselves and that’s okay for now. We can learn about ourselves as we struggle to articulate ourselves in this language and also, somehow, beyond it and its unacceptable limitations.
If I had found a simple label for myself, all neat and tidy and waiting, already outlined for me by those who came before (as I so desperately wanted) I’d have never done as much struggling or as much growing as I have. And I needed it, I didn’t want it, it seemed scary and impossible and hard. But it was good for me, (especially as an anarchist) to learn to think in ways that aren’t yet tidy and labeled, to learn to think beyond the constraints of my own language and to be okay with that.