It was my very first visit to a therapist. My father took me because he believed I was addicted to my phone, while I was in 11th standard, which is completely unacceptable.
Before consulting the psychiatrist, we had to give history to a psychologist first.
A number of questions along with a few tests (i believe they’re called psychometric?). One of the tests was to draw a person. I was given a paper and a pencil and an eraser, which I did not touch.
“Draw a boy or a girl, doesn’t matter.”
I hadn’t drawn in several months. Some sort of angry emotion seized me; I drew the most androgynous person I could draw.
The eraser left untouched.
I was praised for my skills, by the psychologist taking my history, and another one who entered the office.
Was asked if I have formal education (I do not).
When I went to the psychiatrist, he took one look at my drawing and proclaimed me to be very intelligent.
I do not know what he meant to imply.
The rest of the visit was tense and uncomfortable, as a first visit to a therapist is likely to be.
This incident is not very significant on the surface; it’s hardly something worth noting.
At that time, there was only one person to whom I was “out”. Only one person who actively used my pronouns.
My identity was still very nebulous, I wouldn’t fully call myself non-binary until months later.
But this incident is something that floats up to my conscious mind every now and then.
It is now more than two-and-a-half years since this incident. I haven’t visited the therapist much since then. Hardly twice.
At one point I believed therapy would help me solidify my relationship with gender, but that’s not what happened in the end.
I was very unsure with labels. Am I genderfluid? Non-binary? Agender? Am I a trans man?
What I did know were my pronouns. They are he/she/they.
I knew I wanted to be referred to by he/him pronouns but I never experienced any significant dysphoria. I was unsure whether it is within my rights to claim those pronouns.
Back then the only representation I saw was in the Magnus Chase books by Rick Riordan. They had a genderfluid main character, Alex and a non-binary temporary character. I did not experience gender the way Alex did. So I felt unworthy of that label.
Only much later I would come to know how incorrect that depiction of gender fluidity was. I had been in LGB circles passively in social media for a long time, and was woefully ignorant about transness.
I was very scared about speaking about my own gender experience. “I am already bisexual, am I asking for more attention by coming out as trans? The more I learn the more I become?” is what I would constantly think.
I learned a lot watching trans people on Instagram. I followed a lot of them. Listened to what they say. I learned that I don’t have to have dysphoria to be trans. I learned that non-binary, genderfluid, and agender are all labels under the trans umbrella.
I came out to another close friend. Then I came out to my cis-het male partner a day after the Trans Day of Visibility, on March 31.
It was hard. He was disappointed that I did not come out to him earlier (we had been dating for more than a year).
I was terrified and asked my friend for advice. She said I shouldn’t pressure him into accepting. I shouldn’t push him to say something. It’s like I “want him to be a transphobe”.
I learned not to ask cis people for advice after that.
I used to regularly count and recollect my most dysphoric moments. To validate my transness. Only very recently I saw what Dan Rebello said about transness on their Instagram page.
They said that being transgender is not about gender dysphoria but about gender euphoria.
It was quite frankly life-changing. I now remember my most euphoric moments.
When the first person I came out to casually wrote “i love him” in their tags
I remember how i cried then.
When they used my pronouns again sometime later when i was sure they must’ve forgotten. How i cried of joy again.
Every time my friends say something gender affirming to me and my heart leaps.
(It’s very rare but I’ll take it)
It’s been quite a journey. One thing that I have realised is that: the more I learn, the more I discover about myself.
As for androgyny, I no longer think it’s essential to being non-binary.
It is so tiring to see people demand androgyny of non-binary people.
I think they fetishize the ambiguity because it is so foreign to them. The transness, the androgyny, the Other.
To see a non-binary person with long hair in dresses and breasts as non-binary would require deconstruction of gender itself. Something most people aren’t willing to do. To see someone confident in their identity as something you cannot fathom at all must feel alien. So they feel threatened. And demand Otherness in looks, demand androgyny so they can make sense of the Otherness in identity.
If only they could let go of the clutches of the gender binary.
I wish to see a world devoid of binary, but I don’t hold high hopes anymore.
Raavi/Maitreyee is a 19-year-old MBBS student. Maitreyee is non-binary and his pronouns are he/she/they. They enjoy drawing, both digitally and traditionally, and are an avid fan of the music group BTS.