The “mutual friend” I mentioned in my last post has a medical condition that has affected zir hormones to the point where ze is “chemically intersex.” Ze identifies as “on the spectrum” for both gender and sexual orientation, “not completely cis and not completely straight.” Ze has shared some of zir experiences with others, but does everything in zir power to present as the gender ze was assigned at birth, and as straight. Ze wants to come out, but can’t because ze would be rejected by zir family, church, and community; ze can’t afford to take that risk right now.
Last night this friend shared details of zir condition with me that ze hasn’t been able to share with anyone else, because I’m the only person ze feels comfortable enough with. We talked about the bond we share, how we can understand each other in ways other people can’t, because we’re both somewhere in between male and female, straight and gay. We both know what it’s like to live in a world where everyone wants to put us into one of two boxes, and neither box fits; to be free of those boxes is a constant, painful, terrifying struggle. There is so much pressure to just try and find some way to fit in the box we were each assigned, let it close in around us and smother us. My friend’s struggle is currently to fit in zir box; it is the only way ze can live. As tempting as that may be at times – and believe me, it is very tempting, almost every day – stubbornly, persistently, and repeatedly breaking out of my box is the only way I can live.
I take comfort in knowing ze sees, respects, and can relate to my struggle. And ze told me last night that, since I have the courage to be out, ze can vicariously experience the freedom that brings through me. It gives zir comfort, and hope, and the strength to continue zir own struggle. That is worth every moment of fear, frustration, and uncertainty.
I’m making a difference, just by being myself.
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