Nonbinary Life: Meditations on Post-gender Phenomenology


I call myself nonbinary but that’s just a convenient fiction, like all genders. In reality, I don’t know what “I” am except that I am an “I,” a human being with a particular set of ever-changing beliefs, desires, and dispositions.

And even with that fleeting knowledge, I know that my “I” is also a convenient fiction, a linguistic device of my conscious (and unconscious) mind to encapsulate the mystery that is my inner life.

And my consciousness, the foundation of everything, what is that?

I do not know.

To think it is just the activity of atoms and quarks stretches the imagination.

But to think it is something more sets me before a vista of possibilities truly difficult to behold.

I think “I” am somewhere in between these two views, wherein I do not believe we know what atoms and quarks are capable of.

But something I do know is that I live in a society that loves neat and tidy categorization.

They say you are either one thing or another, with no fuzziness allowed, as if the multiplicity of my being could possibly fit into the political caricatures of “man” or “woman.”

I have been on hormones for almost six years along with a legally different name and a quasi-feminine, slightly androgynous appearance.

Many people who do not know me assume I am a trans woman.

While by definition I am trans, I do not consider “trans woman” the best label to describe me.

The closest label is “nonbinary” but even that is deficient. Because it is not that I see myself outside of the gender binary, it’s that I just really don’t care.

I am deeply agnostic about my gender and that stems mostly from no longer caring about gender.

While I do not wish to demean the much-needed efforts for gender liberation (a cause I whole-heartedly support), in my own personal phenomenology, I hardly think of gender anymore.

That’s not quite true. I think of gender whenever society, work, and culture makes me think of gender, which is frequent, given the social conditioning of our gendered and normative culture.

But in my best moments, the moments where I am truly myself, where I am in a flow state, I am not thinking of gender. I am not experiencing myself as being gendered.

I am not writing “as a woman,” or “as a man,” or “as a nonbinary person.” I am writing as a person. A human being. A thinker. A philosopher.

In my best moments, I am post-gender.

Caveat: I am not saying it would be better if everyone thought in this way. I am merely describing my own phenomenology and my own aspirations.

While my trans experience and my gendered body do influence my consciousness, when I am truly living in the moment I do not think of these things through the lens of gender. I do not have a gendered body. I just have a body. There are just parts, which do things, which embody my consciousness.

Do not get me wrong, I occasionally still experience gender dysphoria. The reality of social gender and the reality of my body sometimes comes crashing into my consciousness, especially insofar as there are discrepancies and anomalies with respect to what’s “normal” or “expected” for someone born with my bodily phenotype.

However, what I am saying is that I am my happiest when I am not contemplating my gender.

One might think this is a privilege, to be able to not think of my gender. That many women would love to not be able to think of their gender.

And I would agree with this statement, which is why I do not take it for granted. I cherish my ability to experience the world beyond the lens of my own gender, to truly not care what I am or who I am.

It leaves me free to focus on my post-gender goals. To write and think. To achieve financial independence. To create art. To love and be loved for who I am. For who I truly am, and not just the fictional shell I necessarily project in virtue of my superficial physical and social cues.

And for me, that is true freedom. Freedom from gender. I do not believe I will ever achieve this goal, insofar as it is dependent on radical changes in society. But the small moments of freedom can be stitched together across time into a coherent narrative that lends itself to my happiness.

And like I said, I do not wish this state of being on anyone who does not want it. For people who love their own sense of gender, for those who have fought very hard to live their gender in its fullest extent free from social torment, I applaud them and support them in their gendered quest.

I want everyone to be happy with their gender or lack of gender. In this sense, I am a true gender liberal. Everyone should have the freedom to decide for themselves how to experience themselves with respect to the concept of gender.

But for me, I will continue dreaming about a post-gender life.

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