Non-Binary Person Inspired to Explore Gender Identity and Leave Toxic Ex During COVID Lockdown. “I Had Finally Chosen Myself.”

by Taylor Mckenzi

“Would you still love me if I was nonbinary?” And he goes, “Slightly less.”

I’m Taylor McKenzi and I’m from Austin, Texas.

When I was younger, I knew that I wasn’t like the other little girls around me. When we would play pretend I would often choose Harry Potter, as opposed to Hermione. I liked both dinosaurs and horses. There was a lot of gray area in there.

I decided to go into acting in my early 20s. I got my degree in acting and that was a lot of fun, but due to bills and stuff, I had to put that on pause for a second, pay the bills, go to work.

When COVID hit, however, in 2020, I refocused. I wanted to follow something that made me happy again. So I decided to audition for Stella Adler Studio of Acting from New York, because they were offering online classes. I auditioned, got accepted, and got into the class.

During the class it was the second day. And the teacher had asked, “I’m sorry, I should have done this the first day. I would like to know everybody’s pronouns, just so I’m respectful.” And he gave options. She/her, he/his, they/them. And when he said “they/them,” I’m like, Oh, okay. I almost said “they, them.” I never had explored my gender identity before. I grew up very Christian. So a lot of that was repressed.

I had started exploring that idea and it was kind of made complicated by the fact that I had just started talking to this new guy as well. I would slip in little things of like, “Oh, I don’t feel either way ha ha.” You know, whenever gender was brought up and I think he just kind of brushed it off, but there was one day where I finally had built up to the question of something along the lines of “Would you still love me if I was nonbinary?” And he goes, “Slightly less.”

As we continued on with our relationship, I kind of started uncovering who he really was. He had hidden a lot of things for me. And I had actually found a Trump flag in his closet and I asked him about it. I’m like, “Hey, what’s this doing in your closet?” And he goes, “Oh, it’s nothing. I just like to collect memorabilia from elections and stuff.” And it always ate away at me.

He had started mentioning things like, as long as you’re with me, you’ll always be taken care of because he had a really good job. And he had a couple businesses on the side too. And I knew that he had a lot of financial power.

I’m a silly person. I’m goofy. So I like to share memes a lot. There was a meme that I had sent him that was something along the lines of I want to dress spooky and not feminine. I want to be spooky. And he said, “Well, I don’t want a spooky partner. I want a respectable partner.”

It kind of hit me at that point, I needed to start thinking of ways to make my own money. Because at that point I was coming to terms with the fact that this may or may not work out. So I ended up taking a software engineering class from ACC. It was a bootcamp to completely get the basics down.

During that, I had wanted to get my nails done and – I just really like having my nails long. It makes me feel good. And he had said, “Oh, you shouldn’t get your nails long. It’ll slow down your typing.” It wouldn’t have slowed down my typing. I type fairly well with them, thank you. Things like that. Just little things like that.

I was starting to make progress in the bootcamp. And we were coming up on our midterm. It was going to be a four hour long coding session, right? I knew that I really needed to get some sleep, things like that. I was really trying to take care of myself, but tensions between us were getting high. When we would fight, especially the last one, he asked me to sleep on the couch. Sometimes even without a fight, he would just fall asleep on the couch. He wouldn’t care to come to bed.

The day before the midterm, I was on the way to San Antonio to get my first dose of the COVID vaccine. On the way there, I really admitted to myself that I had one of two options. I could either stay with him and force myself to be the hyper-feminine person that he wanted me to be. The one who wore dresses – but not too much. Or I could choose to be myself. It took me a while to get there because that allure of financial security was something that I’d always wanted and always looked for my entire life.

When I got home from San Antonio, I told him, “Hey, I need to stay at my sister’s a while. I’m going to go. I’m going to have my friend come and help me get my stuff tomorrow and going to stay with her.” And he said, “No, no, you can just continue sleeping on the couch.”

The next morning I woke up knowing what I had to do. I took my four hour coding final and then 20 minutes later, my friend arrived. We packed my stuff up. I got my dog and I told him that was it.

So I had arrived at my sisters. And then the next day I had done something that I kind of did in my spare time. I had always gone on Amazon and searched nonbinary pride flags, just kind of secretly. When I went and searched this time, I found the right one and it felt right. I added it to my cart, clicked buy. And that was that. I knew that I had finally chosen myself. And that was the best thing I ever did for myself.

Today, I’m thriving mentally. I’m in a very loving, very happy relationship. I look forward to our future together there. He accepts me for exactly who I am and he’s along for the ride. Being honest with myself has given me that strength to go for the win.

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