Blue and pink. Cars and dolls. Sports and homemaking.
All of the above have been associated with traditional gender roles as we have known it since the 1940’s.
But now we are in the midst of a revolution, where the concept of gender is anything but binary. According to a 2013 study by the Intelligence Group, “More than two-thirds of people ages 14 to 34 say gender no longer defines destiny or behavior as it once did.”
For example, senior Iain Ferguson identifies as non-binary, more specifically genderfluid. He feels his gender fluctuates day to day, moving up and down the spectrum of masculinity and femininity, while sometimes not identifying as either gender.
This means sometimes he may look or act differently depending on if he is having a more “masculine” or more “feminine” day.
“On masculine days, I will talk in a deeper voice,” Ferguson said. “For masculine, I am more comfortable in my body in that point in time, and I am more outgoing.”
But feminine days are smothered in dysphoria for Ferguson. He wishes that he had a female figure so he could at least pass as a girl on those days. For Ferguson, his dysphoria is synonymous to depression.
“I’m almost certain at this point that I have depression,” Ferguson said. “I haven’t been diagnosed with it, but I definitely know that it’s there.”
Ferguson started to discover this identity his freshman year after a difficult time in middle school.
“In middle school, I was very confused on who I was,” Ferguson said. “And, to be honest, I’m still figuring out who I am. I felt like I was all over the place.”
Ferguson looked through some labels, but none quite fit like genderfluid did.
“There is demiboy and demigirl, but that didn’t really go with me because I felt like I was all over the place,” Ferguson said. “Sometimes I feel like ‘I am feminine today. I am a girl.’ And other days I don’t feel anything. I am just a person. And other days I am a man.”
During his freshman year, Ferguson started looking into the LGBT community more in-depthly. At first he was just a really supportive ally, but when looking deeper, he discovered more about his gender.
“I started off thinking about myself,” Ferguson said. “And in the beginning of high school I actually started to look into it, and I thought, ‘Maybe this will help me understand who I am’.”
Living outside traditional gender can be a struggle for some, including Ferguson. He sometimes finds himself in fear because of the horror stories of other non-binary people.
“You hear stories of people that are assaulted or killed who are like me, and sometimes they get to me, and I lock up,” Ferguson said. “But I don’t want to live afraid. I understand that the only way to do that is to be open, and hopefully people will see that I don’t mean any harm. I’m just trying to be a person and express how I feel.”
Ferguson came out publicly in a post on Facebook during his sophomore year, showing that he isn’t afraid of anyone that may hate on his rainbow-colored parade.
However, his parents have been a little hesitant of accepting his genderfluid identity.
“My dad at first, he thought it was ‘just kids being kids’ and asked me to take the post down. But I said ‘No,’” Ferguson said. “I can understand where they are coming from because they are trying to protect my future, but at this point, I’m trying to make my own future of who I want to be. My dad wanted me to be like him, but I don’t want to be like my dad.”
Ferguson’s parents are supportive at times, but they “don’t put an effort to understand” his complex gender identity.
“I don’t communicate with my parents about these things anymore,” Ferguson said. “It’s hard for them to understand.”
He even grew a beard to be more masculine to please his dad. But as he became more comfortable with himself, he shaved his beard and stripped off the mask he had worn for so long. With a clean-shaven face, it is much easier for him on those more feminine days. He also grew out his hair to shoulder-length to more easily fluctuate between his male and female days.
“I [also] wear bracelets I have made every day, but I show them more on feminine days,” Ferguson said. “I also don’t want to wear tight clothing because then the clothes hug my male figure.”
Some advice Ferguson offers to those that are questioning their gender identity is be to patient.
“Honestly, it takes a while. You have to understand yourself and what you’re feeling.” Ferguson said. “You don’t need a label at first. You may not even have words for it yet, but eventually, you may find the term you are looking for.”