Someone wrote…

Growing up with languages that have no gender options outside the binary made it really difficult for me to discover my identity (non-binary/agender).

The lack of words for who/what I am in my native tongue still makes is hard to get a proper sense of self, and I struggle with feeling unreal. I spent a lot of years during my teens and early twenties wondering whether I was transgender, simply because this was the only viable option or explanation for what I was experiencing, yet it never fit properly.

I have spent decades of my life trying to conform sufficiently to my assigned gender to pass as invisible. And invisible is what I became, not just to others, but to myself. If there is no word for you, if no one ever talks about you in language that actually includes you, it is difficult to feel like you are actually present in the world. In order to be seen, you need to be named.

What’s your experience?

And what are you thinking about gender right now?

Posted by on April 17th, 2016 at 08:00 am

Category: your voice 3 comments »

3 Responses to “Languages”

  1. Anonymous

    I have spent most of my life feeling the same thing. This is the way I expressed that feeling a few weeks ago in response to an open-ended question about gender and pronouns:

    AFAIK, most people (but not all) think in words. Often, in order to better understand ourselves, we must have a word to use as a label, to see how it fits. There is also the drawback that a label comes with presumptions that vary with each person’s personal associations and may not be accurate.

    Only once I learned of the concept/label of Agender, did I realize how much better it fit me than thinking of myself as Androgynous.

    Only in the recent decade or so, facilitated by the internet, have we had this explosion of words describing the multitude of genders that have been marginalized by cultures that define binary genders as the only possibilities.

    As this lexicon evolves, so does our ability to define and express our identities. Often, only by being able to define and express ourselves, do we feel validation of our identity rather than feel exiled by our culture’s vocabulary denying our existence.


  2. Adryrn

    You worded your description of this feeling so well o__o. Thanks to when I was born/what my native language is, I probably haven’t felt this invisibility as keenly or for as long as you have, but it’s still helpful to see it explained like this in someone else’s words. Thank you.


  3. anta

    I feel for you.

    Luckily, I only encounter this when I study new languages or talk English/Swedish. Finnish is not perfect, but at least I can go for days and days without anyone gendering me out loud.


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