As part of International Non-Binary People’s Day, we spoke to MT about their journey as a non-binary person who has experienced thoughts of suicide. MT is a 31-year-old non-binary lesbian who uses they/them pronouns.
How old were you when you first realised your gender didn’t match the gender you were assigned at birth?
I was about 16. I didn’t really talk about it. I didn’t have anybody to talk about it to. I didn’t know if the thoughts were normal or making sense.
What were your first thoughts when questioning your gender?
I didn’t feel I related to the girls around me. At first, I just thought it was because I was gay and was around a lot of straight people. I related more to wearing guys clothes, not wearing make-up, not putting much effort into myself and being really casual. I didn’t like certain parts about my body; having breasts was a big issue, I wasn’t comfortable with that.
When did the term non-binary become a label you considered using?
I first heard the term non-binary when I was 27. It stayed in my mind and made me question it for a while. I didn’t want to rush into it. I felt like it was a big decision to make. I didn’t really label myself until I was about 30.
What impact has not being comfortable with your gender had on your life?
Being misgendered never really bothered me until recently but I hated growing up in my body for many reasons. Growing up and looking at my body, noticing my breasts, having my period. It felt like I wasn’t meant to be going through this – my mind rejected it. I couldn’t get my mind to connect to the physical changes.
Did your gender confusion lead to experiencing thoughts of suicide?
There were times when I wasn’t happy with myself in many ways; the way I looked, the way I felt about myself, and not understanding myself. There were times when I did think about suicide when I wasn’t comfortable with myself and my gender. I have attempted suicide in the past and I hurt myself to try and forget about how it was impacting my mind.
Do you feel more comfortable now you’ve come to terms with being non-binary?
I do actually. I have never been one for labels but suddenly identity and labelling was very important for me. I ended up feeling that being able to say I’m non-binary was very important for me accepting it and telling my close friends and family. I feel better being out as non-binary.
How does it feel when somebody misgenders you?
I’m not quite comfortable correcting people if they mislabel me, e.g. in a shop, but I cringe because I feel in my heart that’s not right. It does impact me and make me wish I didn’t appear to look like a female in people’s eyes.
You have identified for a long time as a lesbian and now your gender identity is non-binary, how does this fit in with how you see yourself now?
You hear the word lesbian and you automatically think of a woman loving a woman. It made me sit and think – I don’t identify as a woman, but I still love and am attracted to women only. I did a lot of research and found some blogs online. A few people have written about their journeys which helped me feel comfortable. I identify as a non-binary lesbian and I believe we can exist.
What do you wish would be different for the next generation who are experiencing questions about their gender?
Assuming gender is something we have to try and move away from – even I do it sometimes. I think we’ve got to make it more acceptable and have more awareness about different genders.
If you could say anything to your younger self, or to young people going through a similar journey of experiencing thoughts of suicide and questioning their gender, what would you say?
If I could talk to my younger self I would say you’re going to make it a long way past 18 when you thought you were going to end your life. I honestly grew up thinking 18 was going to be it for me and I turn 32 this year. It hasn’t been easy – I will admit that – it’s authentic and truthful to admit it hasn’t been easy. I’m still here and pushing through is something that helps make you grow. Finding out who you are along the way, you change so much in your 20s, every year you’re changing and growing. Life’s this big journey and you never know where it’s going to take you. I think I’d tell myself to hold on.
If you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide, and need a safe non-judgmental space to talk, PAPYRUS is here for you. Call HOPELINE247 for free, confidential advice and support on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039 967 or email firstname.lastname@example.org from 9am to midnight every day of the year.