I don’t owe you my gender expression

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Helena Edwards, Opinions Editor

This past week has been an uncomfortable reminder of my gender identity. I identify as non-binary and use they, them, and their pronouns.

However, society is not as caught up to ask for pronouns always or default to they and them when a person does not know someone’s pronouns.

What brings this up is that I get called miss and ma’am a lot at work. My immediate reaction to this was a feeling of guilt.

I thought of ways in which I could help and possibly fix the situation. Maybe I should start wearing my binder again. I could start presenting more androgenous, but how?

Voice training to deepen my voice was another option I could pursue. Did I need to cut my hair shorter because it is getting far too long and looks too feminine in that way?

I then realized that I am allowed to be uncomfortable with the terms of miss and ma’am being applied to me, even if someone is just being polite.

I can then choose to correct them if I want to, but most interactions at work seem quick enough that I would not want to risk the discomfort of being called ma’am being prolonged by correcting a costumer there and it go awfully wrong.

It should be on my own terms whether I want to dress more masculine or androgenous to fit my gender identity.

On those days when I do it and do not feel pressured to do so are when I feel truly comfortable in my body.

I can do traditional feminine things like wear certain types of clothing and paint my nails, but at the same time what matters most is that my pronouns are still being respected after they are addressed.

I am still valid in my gender identity even if I wear dresses.

I am still valid in my gender identity even if I do not bind. I do not have to fit this specific mold of what others expect to be respected in my identity.

Dealing with how people react to how I identify is a monster on its own, but it just adds to the monster in which is gender dysphoria.

Once I have told someone my pronouns, I expect that person to use them which does not seem like an unreasonable request.

How I present myself should not affect this. I do not owe my gender expression to others.

Helena Edwards is a sophomore psychology major. They can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]