Over the next few months, I became more familiar with what it is like to live as a non-binary person. I went to sleepaway camp and was placed in the girls’ bunk where there was a junior counselor who was also non-binary. Seeing them living openly was really validating. I thought, “Here’s another person like me—this is a real thing.”
When it was time to head back to school for seventh grade, I emailed my teachers to let them know about my pronouns. I’d assumed everyone at school would be understanding, but a lot of teachers and kids didn’t get it. Every time someone referred to me as “she” or “her,” it felt like being stabbed. I’d think, “I’m never going to be perceived as how I am.” When I asked my teachers for help, they told me I needed to teach my classmates about gender. I thought, “Aren’t you supposed to be the teacher?” I guess they saw gender as my thing, something they couldn’t explain. So one day I got up in front of my class and tried to describe the gender spectrum. I was not happy about it, but I thought it was the only way to get people to stop misgendering me. I didn’t have many friends in my grade, so not a lot of people listened, and some kids laughed. It was mortifying.
I spent a lot of time at school trying not to be called out for being different. During gym, the teacher would split us up between boys and girls. I chose to sit out or wander the halls. Life at school was lonely, so I looked forward to spending my afternoons doing things I loved: drawing, band practice, chatting online. Journaling—with words and illustrations—really helped me process everything I was feeling. Even if something not-so-great happened, I recorded it so one day I could look back and see how much had changed.