I have to start by saying a gigantic thank you to Louise for making the #TalkFear tag happen, and for encouraging a discussion about topics that aren’t usually easy to talk about.
When I first thought about fear and what fear meant to me, this quote from Frank Herbert’s Dune immediately came to mind:
As a teenager, I had this on my bedroom wall, sandwiched between Gothic poetry and maudlin song lyrics. I don’t think I really understood what Paul Atreides was on about though until fairly recently. But that’s because I didn’t really know who I was until fairly recently as well.
I’m genderqueer. This is a gender identity often covered by the trans umbrella term – you may have seen it written like this: trans* – and it means I don’t identify with a binary definition of gender. My self-expression includes aspects of what could be considered traditionally masculine and feminine. I guess what I’m aiming for is a more androgynous look – as much as my wide-hips and short stature will allow.
Fear has hung over me like a giant guillotine for most of my life. The fear of not being ‘normal’, the fear of being ridiculed and ostracized for being different, the fear of disappointing others, the fear of being who I am, and the greatest fear: the fear of not being who I truly I am and living a claustrophobic, miserable, dishonest life.
Since embracing my genderqueer identity, my gender dysphoria (the feeling of being in the wrong body) is a lot better because I’ve given myself permission to express my true identity. This means giving myself permission to appropriate my husband’s clothes, shop in the guy’s section at stores, cut my hair, and not care about how un-girly I am. And while life is so much better and I am so much happier, fear still persists.
I still fear ridicule and rejection, especially in professional environments, and still worry when I meet new people and how they might react to knowing how I identify. I also, somewhat strangely, fear that I’m not genderqueer enough, that I’m not radically anti-binary enough to truly claim the identity of genderqueer. While judgment from outside the LGBT+ community is half-expected, there is also judgment within the rainbow community, and that absolutely terrifies me.
Without fearing who I am and the odd looks I might get for dressing like a boy and not conforming to societal ideals of the feminine, I can simply be who I am. And that is both comforting and liberating. Everyday I will face my fear and permit it to pass over me so that I can continue to be my authentic self the best way I know how.