by Ronnie Riley (nonbinary; they/them)
I spent so much of my childhood confused, scared, and angry. I never felt like I fit in. Not with the girls. Not with the boys. I tried a bit of both - overcompensating in dresses, crushes on men, being the first AFAB (assigned female at birth) to join Beavers in Kitchener, Ontario, choosing classes like auto shop. Not once did I feel like any of them were the right answers, but I thought that's what I should do. I thought I should like the feminine things, but I felt more comfortable with the masculine.
It took years of self-torture, education, and friendship before I finally opened myself up to the possibility of being nonbinary. I didn't know what it meant until I was twenty-one, and even then - I didn't recognize that it was my answer to all those traumatic questions I avoided my entire life.
But when I did try on the label of nonbinary, not only did it feel right - it felt like coming home, like that's where I had belonged this entire time. Not only that, but it gave me a community of people who understood how I had felt, and how I was feeling now. And it allowed me to become more sure of myself - no confusion, fear, or anger in sight.
Now that I know who I am, I feel like I can truly be myself.
And no one can take that away from me.
As loud as TERFs and JKR may be, I will always stand tall. I will always lead with my heart. I will always be myself. My whole self.
No longer are the tears that come over confusing feelings and thoughts that I dismiss before they're even fully formed. No longer will anyone be able to take this from me and try to diminish it.
I choose me.