And this is Gila.
Gila who is transgender, who is 19, who is non-binary, no specific order, no time to give explanations.
Because Gila spends their life explaining themself, to people who don’t get it or who don’t really want to get it.
Gila grew up in the conservative town of Fish Hoek. A jewish family in a christian town, a transgender body in a cisgender crowd. Isolation.
Lucky for them, lucky for Gila, there would be spaces in which to be safe.
Although Gila’s family identifies as Reform Jews, their everyday life is pretty secular. Their children never went to synagogue, nor would they pray or follow rituals in an orthodox fashion.
So for 5 years, on Gila’s own initiative, Gila took part in a progressive jewish youth group. Of course, they learned a lot about religion, but, as it happened to be a space of expression, Gila got to explore more. The leaders educated them about LGBTQI+, and when the group took an exercise about gender expression, Gila took more time than the other kids. This made Gila wonder, and they realised the longing in their heart.
And as Gila started putting labels and pronouns on who they really were, a troublesome journey on a cisgender sea started to take toll. Gila became the queer banner of the group. They were constantly invited to promote the inclusivity of the organisation, and exploited them.
Gila felt used. So Gila left.
But the outside world is no better. It may even be worse.
As long as they can remember, Gila never felt comfortable being a “girl”. They would rather lean toward the masculine side of the gender spectrum.
So when Gila came out as transgender and non-binary, things should have been easier. People had been misidentifying, misgendering them for the longest time. Now people had their answer. But you know, these days, people always come up with a better one.
Gila is transgender. They do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth: female.
Gila is non-binary. They do not identify with the traditional gender binary: male or female. It is not an in between. It is just not the binary. The binary cisgender people, an overwhelming majority of humanity, tend to aggressively reapply whatsoever. And you would be surprised how well-intentioned some of these people are to Gila.
People want to call Gila gender-fluid. Because Gila’s very demeanor and use of fashion is so broad it’s confusing. Gila just shops in both sections, doesn´t make their gender fluid. Skirts, pants, leggings or hoodies, they wear it all. Very naturally. Gila’s style is as constant and consistent as their identity.
People want to call Gila a lesbian. A butch lesbian. Because their hair is short. Cisgender heteronormative maths: short hair plus female equals female masculinity equals lesbian. Well, their answer is simple: “I’m more of a gay boy than a lesbian,” Gila says jokingly.
People want to call Gila agender, asexual, a-everything. Because Gila does not provide a convenient look, nor an appropriate image. So people get agressive, and often intrusive. Because they have a trans body, Gila is not allowed to have a sexuality. People assume they do not have any. They would be surprised to know Gila has a boyfriend and is attracted to masculinity. Androsexuality.
Gila feels suppressed. They feel pressured from the world at large. Just like they did now, Gila relentlessly gives explanations so people can feel better, making at ease lazy minds, hard to please.
Gila feels punished. And it’s a double plight. Deep inside, Gila wonders if they were meant to be a cisgender boy, but just weren’t allowed to be. Now, because they do not identify as a cisgender woman, they have become a disobedient woman. For they are trans and non-binary.
Gila feels the burn. And it hurts like hell. Because people assume their identity is a quirk, a whim, transitory. Because people only focus on what they look like, can never look past it.
Well, we should all burn for Gila. For we know a zillion words, a million names and a shit ton of colour shades, but when it comes to gender, we are stuck in a binary
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