One Person’s Journey From Identifying As A Tomboy, Then Femme, and Finally Gender Non-Binary.

by E Garcia

I’m E Garcia and I’m from New York City.

When I was a kid, I was a huge tomboy. I remember when I was 5, I asked my parents if I could get a mohawk and dye it pink, purple and green for some reason. Of course, they said no. I told them then that if I couldn’t do what I wanted with my hair, I didn’t want hair at all. So they took me to get a haircut and they did let me get a buzz-cut, which I kept all the way through elementary school.

I loved when people would ask me if I was a boy or a girl. I played with the boys at recess always. I didn’t really have many girlfriends. When I started middle school, I was really young. I was 11. Puberty started, so I started, you know, getting breasts. My body was changing and I was really, really uncomfortable with all the changes.

In seventh grade, I had two of the cool boys in my homeroom and I was super excited because my teacher placed me at their table. I was really excited that I got to sit with them and get to know them a little bit better. But I remember I sat down at the table and they pretty quickly started making fun of me. I remember they were calling me a “manly lesbian” as if I wasn’t even at the table. It just made me feel so ashamed. I didn’t even know of what. Like, I didn’t know my sexuality at all. I just knew whatever they were calling me was bad.

So after that and and other similar bullying incidences, I – it wasn’t such a conscious decision, but I think I realized that it was just easier to fit in if I was femme – if I was what I was supposed to be or what was easier for other people to understand. So, you know, I finish growing out my hair and started dressing completely differently – like very feminine. Unrecognizably feminine. I dated a boy for a long time which is about my sexuality and I don’t have any regrets about that. I loved him very much. But it – that kind of helped me pass without the bullying, which is really all I wanted. I just wanted to fit in. It was nice but it didn’t feel totally right. Like, I was never super comfortable in my clothes.

But it wasn’t until I was in college and everything sort of came tumbling down at once. My long relationship ended, my parents told me they were getting a divorce, and I very shortly after started my first relationship with a girl. I think all of those things combined forced me this sort of look inward and think about – are these choices I’m making, these things I’m doing, true to who I am or do I just feel like I need to do them? That sort of is what led me to all of these changes and then I moved back to New York and reconnected with my old high school soccer coach, who had since gotten married. We actually connected because I went on a date and I was talking to the person I was on a date with about our queer role models when we were kids.

So after that date, I reach to her on Facebook just to congratulate her and everything she had, you know, done. She got married since then and she was, like, “We need to get a drink.” So we got a drink and started catching up. She had just started a clothing line, Kirrin Finch, and she was having a fitting party. So at this party was the first time that I met people who identified all different kinds of ways and specifically with gender identity. It was the first time I met somebody who went by they/them pronouns, which I had heard of but I’ve never – I never had a face to put it to. That was sort of when I started to realize that that was me.

Shortly after that fit party, I looked in my closet and I took every single dress in that closet and put it into a duffel bag and brought it to my little sisters’. Because I hadn’t worn them in almost a year and I decided that it was time to cleanse myself of that past self, that person that I felt like I had to conform. I gave the dresses to my sisters and I never looked back.

I started writing about how I was feeling, both for myself and as a way to communicate with other people. So I wrote a blog post coming out about my gender identity. I had a lot of really great reactions to coming out and people just congratulating me and people who were asking questions, which I really appreciated. Because it’s hard for me to talk about it and I needed practice talking about it too, because it was new for “adult me” to start exploring this. So that was really helpful.

So today I am very lucky to say that I’m comfortable with who I am. That being said, I still have a lot of things figure out. I wear a binder every day and I didn’t ever love the idea of elective surgery, but I also don’t love the idea of wearing a binder every day. I mean, it’s painful. I feel like my posture is not as good because of it, so that’s something I’m working on. It’s still tough for me to communicate with certain people about my pronouns.

All told, I feel very lucky. I know who I am now. I know how I like to wear my hair. I know how I like to dress to make me feel authentic and comfortable. In a way, my story feels kind of full-circle, like I’m coming back to my most authentic self, which is the 5-year-old that wanted a mohawk and buzz-cut. So I think that I changed in that I kind of went away from who I really was and then came back to it after many, many years and a lot of, sort of, like, shedding of expectations and fears.

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